To: The USA/RS Board of Directors and the Figure Sports Committee

After reviewing the new requirements and the proposed changes for the adult competitive program, I feel compelled to respond because of my dis-agreement with several of the proposed changes to the important aspects of the program. I have been involved in the sport since 1943 as a competitor, teacher, judge and rink operator. I have served USA/RS in many capacities. Competitive roller skating has, and continues to be, my life’s passion.

I believe that the key problem with competitive skating is the continual reduction in the overall number of competitors. Every action taken by our organization should be focused on bringing more people into the sport and keeping those that are here.

I can agree with the concept of Bronze, Silver and Gold, but I do not believe that as structured it will bring more skaters into the program. The difference in age divisions for bronze (18-49) is too large and will discourage new adults and those who wish to return from competing. A 45-year old will not wish to compete against an 18-year old.

We have a successful adult program that needs modification, but the reduction of three elements to two elements does not encourage athletes to compete. Aside from the cost of training, travel to regionals and nationals, costumes, there will now be a de facto increase in pricing. Current rate of entry is $80 or $26.66 per element. With two elements it will now be $40. Adults are realistic and also realize that they may not win or place but they enjoy the exercise, the camaraderie, and refining their skills. I fear some of our dwindling members may choose to not compete at a time when membership revenue is necessary.

The difficulty of the requirements raises questions. The purpose should be to attract new adults who could conceivably skate with USA/RS for a target 10-year period. The requirements in the introductory level (Bronze) must be less difficult to attract new and retain existing adults in the competitive program. The requirements should be those that comprise the first three achievement tests. To make requirements that are too difficult is self-defeating to the athlete and ultimately to USA/RS.

The proposed number of two (2) requirements for the Bronze and Silver divisions seems discriminatory to the adult athletes. Youth skaters skate three (3) figures or three (3) dances. What rationale could be used to explain to a valued customer that age means they, or USA/RS, should expect less? Additionally, I believe this could open the door for an age discrimination suit.

Historically, a skater could challenge up to another division. We allow Sophomore skaters to challenge up to Junior, and Junior skaters to challenge up to Senior, as well as many other examples as specified in AR 8.02.12. These skaters, upon placing in two (2) events at Regionals are allowed to participate in both events at the Nationals. My own skater, Nicole Leonard, skated and won both the Junior WC and Senior WC divisions at both the Regional and the National Championships. With the new proposed adult rules, the skater may only skate one skill level at Nationals even though they qualified in both at Regionals. It makes little sense that participation rules should change as a competitor ages. It also looks like you’re taking away something from the adult competitors. I fear that denying the adults the right to skate both events at the Nationals is a recipe for loss of membership as well as being discriminatory.

The dances used in the adult program have been a vehicle from the past to encourage skaters to continue to skate or return to competition. The greater majority of adult skaters began, were trained, and nurtured in the American Dance program. I strongly believe the dances utilized in the adult program should be those based upon American technique and rules currently existing in the American Dance manuals.

Participation in, and the quality of, the sport of artistic roller-skating are on a severe downward slide. The intelligent work done by those who formulated teaching techniques, as well as the methods used to develop the masses of skaters seems to have been forgotten. I assume that those advocating the current changes wish to respond to the loss of participants and mean well. I also believe that any business has to change with a changing market.

The larger the participation levels the better the base of skills. Larger participation numbers also financially support the parent organization. They also support the operator of the skating center, who we wish to have participating in our sport because these are primarily his/her customers.

The ultimate driving force in any proposed change should be, “Is this decision going to bring more participants into our sport”. It should not be, “how is this going to affect our world standing”.

I strongly recommend that the Board of Directors consider tabling the changes to the adult program for this coming season. I also believe that the Board should appoint a special committee to review necessary changes in the adult program. This committee should be comprised of coaches who participate actively with adult competitive skaters. This will also help those in the field and participants to believe that due process has been considered prior to change being implemented.

Respectfully submitted,
Bob LaBriola

P.S. If you agree with my beliefs, please forward these thoughts to any concerned teachers in your area, as well as reaching out to the board themselves at – [email protected].