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Jersey On Ice - Response to Comments About TLC's Figure Skating Reality Show

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Deana Stoka, Michele Barbieri, Kristen Gerard, and Adrea Astorga - Coaches, Jersey On Ice

Deana Stoka, Michele Barbieri, Kristen Gerard, and Adrea Astorga - Jersey On Ice Coaches

Courtesy The Learning Channel

A figure skating reality show, Jersey On Ice, featuring three coaches in New Jersey was aired on The Learning Channel on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Many people in the ice skating world have been critical of the show. There has also been some confusion related to the qualifications of the coaches and level and type of skating shown on the show.

This article summarizes and addresses some of the negative comments that have been posted since the show aired. It is also meant to clear up any untrue facts about the coaches.

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The Coaches' Unprofessional Behavior and Poor Sportsmanship:

The main concern that has been expressed by viewers is that the coaches behaved in an unprofessional manner. They used (bleaked out) language that is considered inappropriate for young people to hear. It is true that most figure skating coaches do not use the (bleaked out) foul language these women used during the show, but it has been said that some coaches, even at the most elite levels, have used inappropriate language on the ice and behind the scenes.

The way the coaches interacted with the skaters and with one another is not usually done in public, but it should be noted that some of what is shown on reality television may be a bit scripted. The ridiculous situations that caused bickering could have been planned, but it should be noted that there are many conflicts in figure skating which may seem trivial to outsiders. What was shown may have been meant to give audiences a comical glimpse into the intense and highly competitive figure skating world. What was shown could perhaps happen, but in a much "quieter" manner, at any skating rink.

The Coaches' Qualifications and Credentials:

Anyone can teach skating in the United States. This means that people with very little credentials or experience can call themselves figure skating coaches. This issue disturbs many people in the figure skating community. It is true that many ice rinks in the USA do have unqualified individuals on their teaching staff.

The three coaches who appear in the Jersey On Ice reality TV pilot may not be PSA, Professional Skaters Association, members, but may have been approved by the rinks they teach at to coach skating.

Deana Sroka and Michele Barbieri have stated that they do have skating students who participate in US Figure Skating tests and competitions, so this means they need to be registered with that organization as coaches. Also, to teach at any US Figure Skating function beyond the Basic Skills level, coaches must meet a CER, Continuing Education Requirement. The PSA's website does not list their names under the coaches that have met the CER requirement, but the Floyd Hall Arena's skating director thinks this may be an error since Sroka and Barbieri are not PSA members.

Low-Level Skating Students:

The skaters featured in Jersey On Ice are very low level figure skaters. The comments say that basic skating skills, jumps, spins, and other moves are taught poorly by the three coaches featured in the show.

It is true that those who "know skating" did not observe excellent, or what is considered intermediate or high level skating according to US Figure Skating's standards. In fact, it appears that the highest level skaters who skated in the show were possibly skating at about the Pre-Preliminary to Preliminary level. They competed at the ISI Silver and Platinum levels, which are new levels in Ice Skating Institute's competition structure.

Not the "Real" Regionals:

Most serious figure skaters train each year with the goal of participating at a regional figure skating competition. Much preparation is involved to get ready for "Regionals". To qualify for a regional non-qualifying or qualifying event is an accomplishment in itself since there are very difficult figure skating tests that must be passed before an ice skater is eligible.

It is unclear what type of "regional skating competition" the skaters in Jersey On Ice were training for. They may have been getting ready for an Ice Skating Institute team competition that is held annually in Lake Placid, New York.

Concern About Approval of Governing Skating Bodies Regarding Participation In the Reality Show:

There have been assumptions that US Figure Skating, PSA, and ISI sent out notifications that participation in TLC's figure skating reality show would cause skaters to lose their eligibility to compete. These assumptions may or may not be true. The skaters who participated in the show are low-level skaters and were not paid, so loss of skaters' eligibility was not an issue.

TLC did a lot of searching for ice skating coaches that fit in with what they wanted the public to see. They were looking for someone with a "Cake-Boss Personality," and the three coaches from New Jersey were exactly what The Learning Channel was looking for. It is true that they are loud and say what is on their mind.

TLC may have contacted the skating governing bodies for assistance and it is true that US Figure Skating did not wish to be involved. Statements have also been made by the PSA and ISI. Both organizations do state that they did not endorse or encourage what went on.

Lack of Knowledge About What It Takes to Be an Olympian:

Those who start skating seriously after the age of ten can possibly be serious competitive figure skaters, but it may be too late to "make it" in competitive single skating, especially for a girl. Sadly, it may be too late for the eleven year old who appears in the show who stated she has Olympic dreams, but, with the right training and coaching, she can still accomplish much in the sport.

Possible History of Disreputable Behavior From the Coaches:

Rumors have circulated that one of the coaches was once a stripper and another one smoked marijuana. These accusations are not true.

More About Jersey On Ice:

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