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Offline mamabear

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Club Ice
« on: October 26, 2016, 08:47:50 AM »
As far as I know our skating club hasn't been purchasing/offering club ice in that last 5-6 years.  It has been discussed at meetings and so I've heard some coaches views, some management views and some club member views.  I think there are 2 primary concerns among club members  1) Would we have enough skaters to cover the cost?  We would need 18 skaters and it's rare for us to have that many on any given freestyle (yes-I know we are small!)  2) Why should skaters pay more for club ice when some of them purchase an unlimited freestyle pass for each month? 

I'm interested in information from other clubs on what the benefits/drawbacks are of club ice in your area.  Also, anything you would care to share along the lines of "be sure you have this in place"

Offline lutefisk

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 09:00:31 AM »
Our USFS FSC used to offer club ice but stopped after the membership level dropped too low to cover the cost of the ice time.  More recently, the rink's ISI Team started offering a dollar discount per session to team members skating at any of the scheduled FS sessions.  The rink also offers a frequent skater card (you pay for 10 sessions up front) for FS sessions to non-team members which provides the same dollar-off price.  Our FSC is slowly rebuilding but isn't at the critical mass required to cover club ice and with the ISI-Team discount and the frequent skater discount, I doubt that club ice will ever make a come back at our rink.

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2016, 09:40:49 AM »
If there are very few rink-run freestyle sessions, it serves that need.  This is the most-valid reason to offer club ice.  One of the Club near us does that at one of their rinks (they operate out of five different rinks!) - there's a weekly club ice session on a Friday afternoon. The downside is that working parents/adult skaters can't fit it into their schedules.  It is an extra cost - there's an up-front contract for the full amount. 

When I first moved here, our club offered freestyle sessions as Club Ice.  Skaters had to reserve/pay up front for each session.  An ice monitor had to be at the rink with a list, to make sure that everyone skating had paid for the session and the sessions had to be crowded in order to break even.  (20-25 skaters.  Our ice is incredibly expensive to rent, far more than in the North East.)  Eventually, the Board decided it wasn't worth the effort - the rink offered freestyle sessions and a discount punch card that lowered the per-session cost below what we could offer.  That gave families more flexibility in scheduling.

When I was on the Board of a NJ Club at a rink with NO freestyles, we had these seasonal contracts that broke the full cost into four payments.  The Board members had to address the problem of overdue accounts.  That was painful, to be honest.  You have to be a bulldog or listen to their sad tales of why they couldn't pay but they will.  The Club started losing money because people would walk away when they got behind on their payments.  The pay-as-you-go method means that if the weather's bad or it's a school holiday, no one comes and the Club has to pay for the shortage.  We worked around it by not scheduling Sunday-after-Thanksgiving sessions, which was good.  Usually, there's a hockey team that wants extra ice, so the rink was willing to be flexible.

For comradery and socialization among the skaters, a Club meetup during public skating or an open skating party are better - both are less expensive, can accommodate more skaters of any level, the skaters can impress the public and goof around without being reminded of the expense.  An open skating session creates a level playing ground by restricting the higher-level skaters from doing doubles and triples.

Before Regionals and our annual singles competition, we offer member-competitors the chance to perform in an exhibition and invite everyone.  For the Regionals exhibition, we have a short send-off celebration with a short speech, cupcakes and lemonade.  The singles competition exhibition is held before our annual membership meeting so we usually get a good turnout for both.  We don't currently charge a registration fee but in the past, we had a lot of last-minute cancellations.  That hasn't happened during the last few exhibitions but if it becomes an issue again, we'll start charging a token fee.  (On the books, we consider this part of their membership fees.  We charge a little extra for the LTS USA to cover the cost, since they usually participate.)

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Offline Neverdull44

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2016, 10:23:48 AM »
We have alot of freestyle sessions, so there is no need for the club to purchase separate ice.   Skaters all have different schedules, and it would go unused.    But, the club does purchase an hour of ice for a Halloween Costume Party.  It's free for club members, and learn to skate kids and non-member (guests) pay a nominal fee.    We also get a party room, pizzas, cake, etc.   We also purchase ice for the annual show practices.

Offline dlbritton

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2016, 12:32:03 PM »
My rink has 6 hours of freestyle sessions weekdays and 3 hours on Saturday with 1 hour of club ice just before LTS/Freestyle classes on Tuesdays. The club ice sessions appear to be rather crowded but many of the skaters are also in lessons immediately following club ice. I am somewhat surprised at the amount of freestyle time given that I rarely see more than 3 or 4 skaters in a morning session (5:30 AM-9:30 AM) although I have never been by before 8 AM.

I believe our rink is really supported by hockey leagues which run at night til well after midnight even during the week. I think the rink is only closed from about 2 AM til 5 AM.
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Offline Matsumoto

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2016, 06:21:37 AM »
Our rink typically has about 8 hours of freestyle for the entire week.  Our club offers one session of club ice during the week but we rarely break even on it.  It is nice to have that extra hour every week for figure skating though.

Offline Query

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2016, 10:12:51 PM »
My facility has about 35 hours/week of freestyle/dance sessions, and our weekday mid-day public sessions are usually uncrowded enough to do freestyle there too. But none of that is on weekends. None on evenings either, unless you count Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5:30 PM as evening.

Club ice adds 90 minutes of club ice / Saturday. So if you need Saturday ice at our facility, you have to go through the club.

Later in the season that will be shared and/or replaced with production rehearsal. The ice production is also done through the club, and is for many people a major reason to belong to the club.

I don't know if that is up or down from previous years.

Maybe I'm missing the point, but why belong to a club that doesn't have club ice time? Isn't that the major reason such clubs exist?

Offline skatemom189

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2016, 07:52:36 PM »
My daughters main rink has two ice surfaces.  One is kept very cold and is used for hockey.  The other is a much more reasonable temperature and used for freestyle.  It has rink freestyle from 5:30am to 2:00pm, and club freestyle from 2 to 6 p.m. Mon to Friday.  Pairs can only be done from 10 to 3.  Otherwise it is all open to all levels above basic 4.  Mid day publics are held on the hockey side and no backwards skating or freestyle anything can be done on it.  There is also rink freestyle on weekends early mornings.  LTS is held 6 - 9p.m. on a few weeknights and 10-2 on Saturdays.

Offline mamabear

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2016, 03:23:57 PM »
My facility has about 35 hours/week of freestyle/dance sessions, and our weekday mid-day public sessions are usually uncrowded enough to do freestyle there too. But none of that is on weekends. None on evenings either, unless you count Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5:30 PM as evening.

Club ice adds 90 minutes of club ice / Saturday. So if you need Saturday ice at our facility, you have to go through the club.

Later in the season that will be shared and/or replaced with production rehearsal. The ice production is also done through the club, and is for many people a major reason to belong to the club.

I don't know if that is up or down from previous years.

Maybe I'm missing the point, but why belong to a club that doesn't have club ice time? Isn't that the major reason such clubs exist?

This is the figure skating director's point.  Our rink is run by the local park board and we do have 25 hours a week of freestyle time. 

From the figure skating director's perspective-Club ice is essentially an obligation of being a figure skating club and should be offered.  Club skaters should be willing to participate because the park board gives them a very reduced rate on unlimited freestyle passes (150.00 a month so yes-we are spoiled)  3 years ago-morning ice was discontinued.  There were public ice sessions weekday evenings and freestyle sessions most days after school.  This has changed-there is now 10 hours of freestyle ice on weekday mornings (time vary), 1 hour on Saturday, 3 hours on Friday evenings and 3 hours on Sunday.  We also have classes and power class which makes up the rest of the 25 hours.  Most sessions have 10 or fewer skaters (Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons before LTS may have 15 or so)

From a parent's perspective- Club ice would be an additional 10.00 for what purpose?  We won't break even since we would need 18 skaters at 10 each.  The primary purpose of the club would be for social events/exhibitions/support. 

The figure skating director and coaches have been strongly encouraging club ice but several club members seem hesitant.  I was curious to see how other clubs handled club ice since we haven't had it here as far as I know.  We do purchase ice time as a club for exhibitions.  Shows are put on by the LTS program with admission going to the Park Board.

Offline Query

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2016, 06:22:36 PM »
While I still feel that clubs mostly exist to provide extra ice time, clubs are partly social. Figure skating, if you aren't in a synchro club or production team, can be a lonley sport.

18 people would be a moderately busy freestyle, busier than what you already have - but on club ice, some pre-teen and early-teen girls may congregate by the hockey box, not skate, and not take up much ice.

Clubs also represent a way to organize tests and competitions. Are those already available within 1/2 day's driving distance of your area?

For a few of the kids, they may represent experience organizing things, and community service, that they can put down on college applications.

Depending on how your rink handles things, club ice could represent a major financial obligation. If not enough people come, who is left with the obligation? In addition, it represents a major time commitment. Most USFS[A] clubs expect parents to volunteer a substantial amount of time, and there are officers with extra obgligations.

In the U.S., for the USFS[A], there is "SafeSport".

  https://usfigureskating.org/content/Safesport%20FAQ.pdf
  http://www.usfsa.org/content/safesport%20handbook.pdf

I.E., there are all kinds of time and financial obgligations towards safety, aimed in part at making sure that everyone is provably innocient of abuse (not just actually innocent), and has done everything they could to prevent abuse of kids by other kids as well. E.g., Required training and test passage; you can't have just one adult in a room with minors; you sometimes can't have kids in a room with other kids, or sometimes by themselves, unsupervised by adults; you can't transport kids not your own without all kinds of paperwork; all adults coming into contact with other people's kids must be properly vetted; reporting requirements; insurance requirements; etc.

If you already have a USFSA club at all, even without club ice, many of these things already apply. But club ice represents one more time set that these things apply, and perhaps an increase in the number of adults who must be vetted (and registered and insured?? I'm not sure.) and mutually supervised.

All in all, if you already have 25 hours a week of freestyle sessions, it's a lot to expect. (I wonder if ISI clubs represent much less work and requirements for the parents. And I assume that most other countries have few such issues.)

Offline mamabear

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2016, 09:13:57 AM »
There is way too much congregating by the hockey box on freestyle but that's a whole other can of worms-  the figure skating director had said 25 but I feel like I'm missing that number somewhere.

Monday and Wednesdays have 5:45-7:45 a.m. so that's 4 hours. 
Tuesday and Thursday have 5:45-8:45 a.m. so that's 6 hours.  The last hour would pretty much only work for the homeschoolers/college students in the club
Tuesday and Thursday have 3:15-5:15 p.m. so that's 4 hours.  The first hour isn't as well attended as the last hour because school isn't out for some skaters until 3:30 or just the time getting from school to the rink
Friday has 3:45-5:45 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. so that's 3 hours
Saturday has an hour tucked in the morning
Sundays have 9:45-12:45 I think....it might be 8:45.  That would be 3-4 hours

So, I'm only coming up with 21-22 hours.  There are classes offered on Wednesdays from 4-6:45 and Saturday from 11:15-11:45 but additional cost with those.  I think she must be including those as well. 

I think one advantage the club could emphasize is that if we did an hour or two of club ice a month-we might have a time that works better for people. 

We do buy ice for testing and have held competitions.  We do abide by SafeSport. 

But, we don't buy ice from the rink on a regular basis for practice purposes.

Offline VAsk8r

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2016, 11:03:58 AM »
Wow, I am super jealous of those of you with a lot of FS ice. We get about 8 hours a week.

That said, our club tried offering club ice for several seasons, and they were always a big money loser. The only ice available was early in the morning. At the time, IIRC, it cost $250 for an hour, and we charged $10 per club skater to keep it cheaper than rink rates and a benefit to club members. We were able to afford it because the club usually made a boatload of money off its holiday show.

We never got more than 15 skaters (and usually more like 5) for a number of reasons:
- We don't have that many skaters in our club anyway, and at the time most of our skaters were more casual and low-level
- The schools in our areas have widely varied start times; public elementary starts around 7:50, middle and high around 9, private schools somewhere in between, so any time that might work for the elementary crowd would be "ugh, I don't want to get up that early" for the high schoolers.
- Many kids in our club live and attend school 20-30+ minutes from the rink, while parents work in the same area that the rink is in, so that's a lot of driving and complications added to the morning routine (although people did work out carpools)

We finally dropped the sessions because we lost so much money and those who didn't come complained about it.

The rink now offers an early morning session primarily to fill its obligations about how many hours of freestyle we get per week, and since September we haven't had more than four skaters there. I am one of only 2 adults in our club, and I don't enjoy getting up early, but it's great to have one guaranteed almost-empty session every week.

Offline Query

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2016, 09:23:46 AM »
It may amuse you to know that, despite our 3 full size sheets, along with a seasonal outdoor rink and an additional curling surface, we have more public and freestyle/dance ice ("work sessions") than hockey stick and puck practice.

In fact we have no stick and puck practice on surfaces maintained by our organization. There is also a hockey practice surface, also maintained by a separate organization, where people can do stick and puck surface almost all the time, but it is really tiny, and infrequently surfaced. So it is rarely used.

Hockey players have to make do on Learn-to-play-hockey ice (which is in short supply, relative to the currently increasing popularity of hockey, and "pick-up games".

Of course, they sell about as much ice as they can, including the most popular times, to multiple hockey teams. But in addition to the games themselves, most of the hockey teams only get a couple hours/week or so of dedicated practice time (their equivalent to club ice). I think the serious figure skaters put in more time. We also allow figure skating tricks on the less busy mid-day public sessions, but we don't allow sticks and pucks to those sessions.

I'm not saying we make figure skaters completely happy. But in some respects we support figure skaters better than hockey players. :)

However, 4 local single surface facilities (Fort Dupont, Bowie, Piney Orchard, Bel Air; All but Fort Dupont are now owned by a company whose owners have strong ties to the hockey community) are currently talking about expanding to two surfaces. That might make more room for hockey practice sessions. Considering how many surfaces their are in the metro DC area, I find it hard to believe there is sufficient demand for 4 new surfaces.

Offline lutefisk

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2016, 09:02:12 AM »

However, 4 local single surface facilities (Fort Dupont, Bowie, Piney Orchard, Bel Air; All but Fort Dupont are now owned by a company whose owners have strong ties to the hockey community)
[/quote]

Bowie ice arena is owned/operated by the City of Bowie.  I take a lesson during one of the two evening FS sessions each Tuesday.  There are additional early morning pickup FS sessions Fridays and Saturdays.  Also there are plenty of typically empty morning Publics for those with flexible work schedules:  http://www.cityofbowie.org/DocumentCenter/View/4611

As for Piney, that rink has always had a strong hockey orientation in as much as it was built to be (and for a time used as) the Cap's practice rink before they moved to northern Virginia.  Current management is sprucing up that rink after years of deferred maintenance.  Piney's ice quality is improving and they tend to leave more lights on than in the past.  I only skate at Piney when Bowie closes for it's annual two months of spring maintenance so I can't speak for the entire year's schedule over at Piney, but there seems to be plenty of accessible ice time for figure skaters, and Piney does have a FSC.  I've never skated at Fort Dupont or Bel Air  but I suspect if one googled their monthly schedules, one would find some ice time (I should go to Ft Dupont just to rent one of their bumper cars--perhaps the next best thing compared to driving a Zamboni!).  In my experience it's a rare rink that doesn't support a local cluster of figure skating coaches and their students.

Offline Query

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 07:46:36 PM »
Lutefish: I've frequently skated at all of those rinks except Bel Air - but you are right Bowie isn't owned by that company. I was thinking of Rockville Ice Arena.. Though the Bowie pro shop has recently been taken over by the same company that manages the pro shop at Laurel, and which has also taken over the pro shops at Rockville, Piney and Bel Air.

They have all had a significant number of public and/or freestyle sessions. A lot of local skaters and coaches are worried that the purchase, last summer, of Piney and Bel Air by the company that owns the Rockville rink (with its strong hockey club connections) might change that to some extant.

I am unaware of bumper cars at Fort Dupont, and I know the rink pretty well. Are you thinking of Tucker Road?

Offline ARoo

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Re: Club Ice
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2016, 10:01:12 PM »
We have no club ice. Our rink provides us with freestyle sessions at much better prices in any block of available time we can find. During the winter (October - March), we get about 6 hours per week (4 1/2 hours of that are 5:45am and 6:30am sessions).

We generally get one afternoon a week. Almost no one can get on until 4pm, which is 15 minutes into the 1 1/2 hour session. Every other available time slot is taken by hockey. If a team is gone or someone cancels, we may get one additional afternoon in a month and they generally find us a few hour blocks for holiday ice show practice.

Since it's a city owned rink, they probably can't get away with giving us no time at all, but they don't have to give us the affordable ice they do. They could still ask us to buy full price ice and resell it as club ice like we did until about 4 years ago. Even if we wanted to buy club ice, it would be cost prohibitive and there isn't any ice for us to buy anyway.