|As skaters advance through the Intermediate level there will be a great improvement in their agility, ease and power. The training emphasis will begin to shift more specifically towards the complex jumps, spins and movements included in free skating solos.
Single jumps are fairly easy and safe to learn, but no one learns double jumps without falling often and sometimes hard. How skaters react to this turn of events will shape their future involvement in skating. Some don't notice they are falling; with others, it is all they notice and it can spell the end of their skating or a change to a different branch.
Because of the demands associated with learning double jumps, skaters will need to skate more often if they expect to sustain progress- a minimum of three times a week up to five or more times a week. This also means a larger commitment of the skater's and parents' time and money.
Skaters will now have their own solo to perform in competition and for their Preliminary Free Skate test. Skaters get a solo, on average, about once a year but those who train infrequently may keep their solo longer. A skater's solo includes elements selected for their quality and difficulty and should be performed fluidly in keeping with the character and rhythm of the music selected. A solo is much more complicated than drills and skill practice alone. It can take a lot of time and practice to choreograph and rehearse a solo to performance readiness. Even so, drills and skill practice should not be replaced by exclusive solo practice. The most important aspect of a skater's training at this level is skill development and so strategies have to be devised to add solo training without disrupting regular training. This partially accounts for the increase in ice time. Because of the amount of time involved in participating properly in solo events solos are not recommended for skaters who skate less than twice a week. This includes skaters who may have signed up for two sessions a week or more but have a long history of absenteeism.
Understandably skaters are in a hurry to pass tests and move up a session. This and the fact that the Preliminary Free test is fairly easy to pass means that some will want to try it as soon as possible. But learning to skate well takes time and pushing skaters to try tests early usually means spending more time on the next test anyway. In the meantime skaters will have to compete at a level for which they may not yet be ready.
Participation in tests and competitions involves some added expense. Skaters are required to dress appropriately for the event; skating dresses with beige tights for girls and proper skating pants for boys are mandatory. Competitions charge an entry fee and there is a test fee for trying tests. The coach will charge for the preparation of the skater's music and extra lessons. It is also likely that skaters at the Intermediate level will receive a higher proportion of private lessons to group lessons than before. Skaters will also require extra ice time to prepare.
Soon skaters will compete in Club competitions and possibly represent their club in outside competition. Competition means performing before a panel of judges. With this may come a skater's first exposure to performing with nerves. Sometimes the experience focuses skaters' efforts but it is often unnerving. Hopefully by this time skaters will have developed solid enough technique to withstand the butterflies that are a normal reaction to performance.
As the skater's repertoire, knowledge and skill grows he will begin to use skating to make personal statements. He will be required to address the artistic component of his skating as part of the overall mark. At the Intermediate level an emphasis on carriage, line and form will be the primary focus of artistic development. Artistry is born in the mastery of technique. Skaters cannot make meaningful artistic statements without the ability to control and manipulate their bodies. Skaters at this level who skate a minimum of three times a week and are nine years of age or older may be ready to begin Creative Movement classes. Creative movement is an excellent way to experience and discuss body movement and is transferable to all branches of skating.
At this stage, skaters will have started to develop a sense of belonging-belonging to the group they work with and belonging to the club as a whole. From this they draw and lend strength and support for each other.
Intermediate skaters can benefit from off ice training, especially flexibility training. Good flexibility plays a role in injury prevention as well as its obvious contribution to the aesthetic quality of the performance. Poor flexibility and imbalances hinder efficient movement and may cause skaters to adapt their skating technique to accommodate the imbalance with a subsequent loss of efficiency. Fortunately, flexibility can be improved with training. Improvement in flexibility is semi-permanent. There can be noticeable gains made quickly (after eight weeks) but it is also lost quickly if training ceases. Gains made over a longer period of time are more lasting. Flexibility is best improved off the ice. Simple stretching improves flexibility in the most direct and efficient way because it does not require young people to learn complex exercises or become overly involved in aesthetic considerations. Improvement in flexibility is highly transferable to the ice.
Skaters usually try their Preliminary Free Skate test about a year into the Intermediate level depending on their age, skill and competitive intentions. The Intermediate Curriculum provides guidance for progressing towards that goal. The chart focuses on balance, flow, lean, speed, agility and power and promotes a variety of jumping, spinning, turning and gliding tasks. It also includes performance tasks. By the time a skater has satisfactorily mastered these skills he will be nearing readiness for his Junior Bronze Free and ready to start work on the Preliminary Skills and Dance tests if so desired and if time permits.
As with the Beginner and Junior Curricula, coaches can provide stickers or other recognition as skaters complete skills in either a horizontal or vertical direction.