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What is U.S. Figure Skating’s Adaptive Program?

The U.S. Figure Skating Adaptive Program offers recreational and competitive avenues for skaters with physical and intellectual disabilities to thrive. Through skating and artistic skill development, skaters will construct a foundation to build success on and off the ice. Rinks, programs and clubs offer adaptive skating programs for skaters of all ages and experiences.

Why Participate in Adaptive Skating?

Skating has several great physical, psychological and emotional benefits for skaters of all ages and ability levels. Some of those benefits include:

  • Helping to build strength, balance, coordination and flexibility while also promoting an overall healthy lifestyle.  
  • Gives skaters a positive social environment where they can interact with peers who enjoy the same interests.
  • Being on the ice can boost a skater’s mood.
  • Adaptive sports like skating can help individuals build their self-esteem, confidence and allow them to become more independent.

Adaptive Skating Opportunities

U.S. Figure Skating offers two tracks for adaptive skating that give athletes the chance to participate in skating both recreationally and competitively.

Skate United

In collaboration with Move United, Skate United offers skaters with physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in classes at their local club in a supportive environment of their peers. Athletes can also test within Learn to Skate USA’s test structure to earn badges and the ability to compete in 6.0 competitions.

Special Olympics

Special Olympics classes and events for individuals with intellectual disabilities allow skaters to earn badges for improving their skills on ice and work towards their own personal goals in a fun and encouraging environment to instill a lifelong love of skating.

Skate United and Special Olympics categories are offered at National Theatre on Ice, National Showcase, adult competitions and other local events.

Skating Accommodation Memorandum (S.A.M)

A Skating Accommodation Memorandum (S.A.M.) provides appropriate and reasonable accommodations for skaters who are testing moves in the field and freestyle and competing in nonqualifying 6.0 competitions.

Email memberservices@usfigureskating.org to inquire how to apply for a S.A.M.

After a request has been submitted, it will be subject to review by the Adaptive Skating Committee and medical professionals. If the request is approved, skaters are permitted to use these accommodations at competitions or during test sessions.

If a skater wants to request the use of a S.A.M. during competition, they must notify the LOC during the registration process. The LOC will then notify the Chief Referee and judges.

For testing sessions, skaters must notify the test chair during registration who will then pass along the necessary information to the judging panel.  

Click here for additional information about Skating Accommodation Memorandums.

Starting an Adaptive Skating Program

If you are considering starting an adaptive skating program at your rink, here are some questions to consider before getting the process started in order to give your athletes the best and most accessible experience possible:

  1. When will you hold adaptive skating classes at your rink? Note: it may be beneficial to hold your classes at quieter times during the day if any students may become overstimulated.
  2. What legal aspects are required before starting a program? All skaters and instructors must be members of U.S. Figure Skating or Learn to Skate USA before stepping on the ice for the first time. Also, think through any waivers or legalities that would be necessary to ensure everyone’s safety.
  3. Is your rink accessible? Are there ramps, accessible parking and accessible restrooms? Are there any physical barriers that may make it difficult for students to access the ice?
  4. What kind of equipment might you need to accommodate skaters with disabilities? Please refer to page 11 of our Adaptive Skating Manual for a list of companies that manufacture and sell adaptive skating equipment and assistive mobility devices.

Stories From Our Community 

Below are features highlighting some of our amazing adaptive skating programs from all over the country doing great work to ensure that all skaters have an opportunity to participate in the sport.

Get Involved

Click here to find a program near you by searching for clubs in your area and visiting their website.

For additional helpful resources, please refer to our Adaptive Skating Manual.

Questions?

If you are interested in starting an adaptive skating program at your rink or have any questions regarding adaptive skating, reach out to memberservices@usfigureskating.org.

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