You have your confirmation letter, the timetable, your bags are packed and the hotel is booked. Your speeding to your competitive destination, and your adrenaline is pumping! Oh, the thrill of competitive figure skating. Whether this experience is for yourself or your child, certain rules and etiquette apply, and here we are going to look at some do's and don't's to get you through your big day.
How will the day pan-out you ask? Generally speaking, you'll know your skate time having received it via the post or email from the host club. You should have a timetable for the day (but don't worry if you don't because they will have plenty on the welcome desk at the rink) and this will help you to plan your day. The rule of thumb is to be skate-ready 30 minutes before your scheduled events time. You need to liaise with the organisers while at your event and ask every now and again if they are running early or late and calculate how this could affect your skate time.
Upon arrival at the ice rink, go for the registration (or check-in) desk. They are normally quite obvious and set up in the main lobby of the rink (although I once totally missed the desk at a major competition and almost got banned from skating because I didn't check-in! So really, really, find that desk! So important!). You'll give your name which will be ticked off a list, and give over your music CD. You may or may not receive a welcome pack with important information about the event and/or venue, and a badge to wear.
Find yourself somewhere to set down. This is easier if you are not alone. If you are accompanying your child you can sit here during the whole competition and watch them skate, so make sure you're in a comfortable spot. If your child's coach is present then they can look after your little skater during off and on ice warm-up while you guard the bags. The most common place to sit is in the stands. IceMom has a very good post on competition from a mother's point of view and there is an interesting and quite disconcerting point in her post about parents talking badly about other children! Click here to read it.
You'll need somewhere to get changed, and more often than not the club/venue does not provide spacious changing rooms to do so. Let's face it, for all the rhinestones and glitter, behind-the-scenes skating is far from glamourous!! So, the toilets it is then! Another option if you are staying (or live) near by is the arrive at the rink in your skating attire. The pros of this option being you don't have to worry about changing at the rink, and the fact that you're ready to rock'n'roll if your event is running early. The cons are mainly discomfort if you have a journey to the rink, and the possibility of creasing the skirt while sitting on it (in the car for instance). There is also the peeing issue if you're wearing a dress (what a fankle!!).
If you can, bring some home made food. Most ice rink food is just horrifying! Dirty oil, see-thru fries (yes they're that saturated!), burgers and fizzy drinks are about as good as it gets. If you're lucky you'll get a sophisticated café serving slices of toast and a latté. Woo. I suggest bringing home-made or store-bought food and drink where possible. Don't forget to provide for your coach too.
Bring cash. You'll probably want to get your little star a gift, and there are usually a decent amount of stands at open events. A flower to throw on is a nice touch, and a teddy bear to bring home is even nicer. There may also be industry merchants at the larger events selling such items as figure-skating-related jewellry items, rhinestones, apparel, boots, and blades. This may be a good time to stock up on tights if you otherwise have to go afar to purchase them at any other time during the year.
I really do suggest getting hair and make-up ready before coming to the rink. The environment will be a more relaxed one, whether you're at home or in a hotel room. I'll be posting new entries really soon on how to do hair and make-up for figure skating comps, so keep coming back!
As IceMom points out in the aforementioned blog post, do something nice for your coach. S/he has seen to your kid all day and gone through a stressful time just like yourself and your child. Why not show your appreciation by offering him/her a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, or a box of chocolates? You can generally get these items at reasonable prices at your local store and it won't go un-noticed, I guarantee you. Even a thank-you card the next time you are in for training can really touch the person who spent alot of time and effort to help you (or your mini skater).