A Guide to Adult Figure Skating

Figure skating is not an activity just for the young

Blurred view of a woman skating with white ice skates
altrendo images / Getty Images

Many people think figure skating is a sport only for young people. To be sure, many of the jumps and other techniques figure skaters learn in order to compete at an Olympic level take years to learn. Those who start ice skating while very young may have an advantage in mastering these skills.

But that doesn't mean there are no opportunities for adult figure skating, which even include participating in competitions. U.S. Figure Skating and the Ice Skating Institute both have a variety of options for adult figure skaters, and test and competition opportunities are available at the local, national and international levels. 

So where do you compete if you came to figure skating a little later in life? 

Adult Ice Skating Competitions

U.S. Figure Skating says its adult skating program offers opportunities for all skaters, "whether you are an adult who became a skater or a skater who became an adult." 

First, you'll need to determine if you qualify for competitive skating. Sectional championships, which are the annual qualifying events for U.S. Adult Figure Skating championship competition are held all over the country every March. The US Figure Skating's Adult Championships are held in April. and draw hundreds of participants every year. 

As with junior-level or Olympic skating, competitions for adults are divided by age and test level. There are competitions held across the different skating events, including free skating, solo and partner ice dancing, pair skating and artistic showcase events.

Special Skating Tests for Adult Figure Skaters

Adults who figure skate are always welcome to take standard figure skating tests. In addition, adult figure skaters in the U.S. can take proficiency figure skating tests that have been designed for those age 21 and over.

There are adult moves-in-the-field tests, adult free skating tests, adult free dance tests, and adult pair skating tests. The ice-dance tests are the same as the standard ice-dance tests, but the adult and masters (for skaters age 50 and over) ice-dance tests do not require skaters to solo dances. Special tests for adult skaters are part of the U.S, Figure Skating's Basic Skills program.

In the U.S. Figure Skating structure, the competition groups are divided by age.

  • Group I: 21-30 years
  • Group II: 31-40 years
  • Group III: 41-50 years
  • Group IV: 51-60 years
  • Group V: 61 and older

Adult Figure Skating Camps

For adult skaters who want to brush up on their skills or get back into action after a long hiatus, there are several ice skating camps around the country designed especially for adult skaters. And most skating rinks offer learn-to-skate classes for adult skaters.

For example, every August, adult figure skaters from all over the country congregate in Sun Valley, Idaho for a summer skating camp. Participants take part freestyle, ice dance, pair skating, choreography, coffee clubs and in group clinics. Private lessons are available and skaters also enjoy skating on both the indoor and outdoor ice sheets.

Another popular camp for adult figure skaters is Dorothy Hamill's Figure Skating Fantasy Camp. Participants join the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts for six days for training and instruction.