20 Jul 2007 18:17:44
Sandra Loosemore
Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: Introduction and Netiquette

Archive-name: sports/skating/ice/figure/introduction
Last-modified: 20 Jul 2007



This article is part of the FAQ list for (amateur) competitive figure
skating. This section covers an introduction to
rec.sport.skating.ice.figure and netiquette for that group.

This FAQ list is posted monthly to rec.sport.skating.ice.figure. Send
corrections and suggestions to [email protected]

This file is available in both plain-text and HTML/Web versions. You can
get to the HTML version from SkateWeb Figure Skating Page at URL:



Table of Contents

* [1] What is rec.sport.skating.ice.figure all about?
* [2] I'm a participant skater. Should I post in
rec.sport.skating.ice.recreational or rec.sport.skating.ice.figure?
* [3] What FAQ lists are there for this group, and where can I find
* [4] How do I read and post to rec.sport.skating.ice.figure?
* [5] How do I find old articles from this newsgroup?
* [6] Help! What does [some jargon] mean?
* [7] Is there any special netiquette for this group I should be aware
* [8] Don't you think Michelle should have beaten Tara at the Olympics?
* [9] Is [skater X] gay? Are [skater Y] and [skater Z] involved
* [10] Why are you people being so nasty and critical about all these
wonderful skaters?
* [11] What's this about "trolls"?
* [12] What other things are considered inappropriate here?
* [13] Is there anything we can do to get rid of trolls and spammers?
* [14] Can anybody send me a video tape of [some televised skating
* [15] Any hints for taking photographs at skating events?
* [16] What the heck is a "dance belt"?
* [17] I'm going to be attending a competition! What should I wear?
* [18] Can I visit [some rink] to watch skaters practicing?


[1] What is rec.sport.skating.ice.figure all about?

Here is the official charter for this newsgroup:

This group provides a forum for discussion of amateur and
professional figure/artistic skating, including figures,
freestyle, pairs, dance, and precision team skating. Articles
from both participant and spectator or fan perspectives are
appropriate in this group.

Appropriate topics for discussion in this group include: amateur
and professional skating competitions and exhibitions; activities
of competitive and professional skaters; rules and organizations
governing the sport of figure skating; and equipment, technique,
training, and instruction issues.

While the primary focus is figure/artistic skating on ice,
discussion of corresponding inline or roller skating topics is
not precluded.

[2] I'm a participant skater. Should I post in
rec.sport.skating.ice.recreational or rec.sport.skating.ice.figure?

There's some overlap in between the groups, and where to post depends
on your skill level, your own attitude about your skating, and the
specific topic you want to post about. The recreational skating
group is the place to discuss topics related to learning to skate and
basic skills. Discussion of more advanced technique and topics
relating to testing or competing are welcome in
rec.sport.skating.ice.figure. Cross-posting is acceptable for
articles relevant to both groups.

It's a good idea to "lurk" for a while in either group before you
post. This way you will get an idea of the appropriate topics and
style of discussion in each group.

[3] What FAQ lists are there for this group, and where can I find them?

This article is the first of five FAQ lists devoted to competitive
figure skating:

* Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: Introduction and Netiquette
* Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: Rules and Regulations
* Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: Technical Elements
* Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: Skating People and Events
* Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: References

You may also be interested in the FAQ lists for the other groups in
the rec.sport.skating hierarchy:

* Welcome to rec.sport.skating.*
* Skating Book FAQ
* Recreational Figure Skating FAQ list
* Conventional (Quad) Roller Skating FAQ
* Inline skating FAQ list

FAQ lists are posted periodically (usually monthly) to the relevant
newsgroups, as well as to news.answers. You can also get copies of
all Usenet FAQ lists by anonymous FTP from host rtfm.mit.edu, or by
WWW from URL


You can also get to the skating-related FAQ lists from the Figure
Skating WWW Page at URL


[4] How do I read and post to rec.sport.skating.ice.figure?

Usenet news is a protocol for exchanging messages between computers,
not a message board or mailing list. The normal way to access Usenet
newsgroups is by using a news reader to connect to a news server.

Many web browsers (such as Netscape Communicator) include a built-in
news reader. If your browser supports news and you have configured
it correctly (your ISP should provide you with a name of a Usenet
news server to connect to), you can use the URL

There are also several standalone Usenet news reader programs you can
use. Some of the more popular ones are Gnus, Pine, and Tin.

Nearly all major ISPs (including AOL, Earthlink, Prodigy, etc)
provide access to a Usenet server as part of their standard packages.
If your ISP doesn't, you can sign up for various commercial
subscription Usenet services instead.

There are also some web page gateways that allow you to browse or
search Usenet newsgroups, like the one at Google, and the
special-purpose gateway at SkateWeb. And, you can get Usenet
messages delivered to your mailbox by subscribing to the service
offered by news2mail.com.

Beward that the user interface provided by these gateways can be hard
to use -- if you want to read the group regularly, you are better off
getting a "real" news reader program, which will have features like
threading and message filtering to make life easier for you.

You can post to rec.sport.skating.ice.figure using your news reader
or the Google gateway.

[5] How do I find old articles from this newsgroup?

The default behavior of many news readers is to hide articles that
you've already read. Read the documentation for your news reader (or
ask your system administrator) to find out how to turn this off.

For a longer-term archive, try using the searchable Google archive
(formerly Dejanews) at http://groups.google.com/.

[6] Help! What does [some jargon] mean?

Here are some general abbreviations used all over Usenet:

frequently asked questions
in my humble opinion
read the [friendly] manual (or FAQ list!)
by the way
laughing out loud
rolling on the floor laughing
the (imaginary) sound of someone being dropped in your killfile

And here are some terms specific to skating:

practice of compulsory figures (figure eights and so on); so
called because each skater is assigned a "patch" of clean ice to
work on.
"moves in the field"; a series of footwork patterns that are part
of the USFSA test program for skaters. (In Canada, there is a
similar test track called "skating skills".) Confusingly, the
ISU has also adopted the name "moves in the field" to refer to
the sequence of spirals, spread eagles, and other edge moves
which is one of the requirements for a well-balanced long
Some people use this term incorrectly to refer to what is now
called the "original dance". It used to be called the "original
set pattern dance" and have significantly different rules.
synchronized skating
A competitive event where teams of skaters perform
drill-team-like maneuvers on the ice, like pinwheels and
intersecting lines. The emphasis is on footwork, maintaining
precise formations, and doing complex transitions between
formations. (This discipline was formerly known as "precision
skating" in North America.)
Fours is to pairs what pairs is to singles skating. A fours team
consists of two men and two women who execute singles and pairs
elements in unison as well as death spirals, lifts, etc that
involve all four members of the team. It used to be a regular
competitive event up until 1950 or so, but is now seen primarily
in exhibitions.
adagio skating
Show-style pair skating, with the emphasis on extended lifts and
other "tricks" like Detroiters and head-bangers that aren't
allowed in eligible competition, and little or none of the
side-by-side jumps or spins that are expected in
competitive-style pair skating.
A training technique developed by choreographer Uschi Keszler.
The skaters do very deep edges in a near-horizontal position low
to the ice, holding on to something like a water bottle to
support themselves (hence the name). Several skaters, notably
ice dancers Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz, have incorporated
these movements into their competition and/or exhibition
(verb) refers to medal-winning (or otherwise memorable)
performances that are cut from the TV broadcast of an event; in
honor of Michael Chack, whose bronze-medal free skate at 1993 US
Nationals was "chacked". Can also be used reflexively; a skater
who turns in a poor performance may chack himself out of a
broadcast or competition, or alternatively be the victim of a
"mercy chacking". Yet another usage of "chack" refers to
pre-emption of an entire network skating broadcast by a local TV
a stunning upset by a comparatively unknown or unhyped skater who
manages to turn in a spectacular performance at the best possible
time. Also known as a wylie, rudy, or galindo, after more recent
refers both to the act of tripping over one's toe picks and
falling on one's face, and the cut/scar one gets on the chin by
doing so; in honor of pair skater Mandy Woetzel, who had such a
fall at the 1994 Olympics.
obsessed fans of particular skaters who have a habit of making
interminable arguments to "prove" that their favorite is the
greatest skater who ever lived. If their favorite ever loses a
competition, the typical borg reaction is to construct elaborate
conspiracy theories about how the event was rigged, claim that
the rules or judges "discriminate" against their skater, and/or
launch venomous attacks on all the other skaters in the event.
This term was originally used to refer to a particularly
obnoxious subset of Brian Boitano fans, but it's now being used
in a more generic sense since other skaters have borgs, too.
Note that "borg" refers to a group of people with a kind of
collective hive mentality, not just individuals who go overboard
in their fandom.
The "Champions on Ice" tour, also known as the "Tour of
Champions" or the "Tom Collins Tour". It's the show that goes on
a lengthy tour of the US following the world championships,
featuring a large cast of both eligible and professional skaters.
They also do a winter tour with only the professional skaters.
This tour is produced by Tom Collins Enterprises.
"Stars on Ice". It's a major ice show that tours the US in the
winter season, featuring a smaller ensemble cast of elite
professional skaters. This tour is produced by IMG.
A nickname for the World Pro competition formerly produced by
Dick Button's Candid Productions. For many years it was held
annually in Landover, Maryland. Before Button sold the rights to
this event, it both changed venue and became a rather bland pro
event indistinguishable from any other made-for-TV competition.
A made-for-TV pro, pro-am, or invitational competition with
"cheesy" irregular rules and judging. Generally includes all
team-format competitions, competitions with celebrity judges,
competitions where the skaters are paid appearance fees, and the
like. (The term "cheesefest" particularly derives from one such
event held in Wisconsin, land of cheese, which featured no rules
and winners determined by polling the audience.)
Generic Female Ballad, the inevitable musical choice of far too
many skaters. Less frequently used acronyms are GMB (Generic
Male Ballad) or GMBS (Generic Male Broadway Song).
Stone-faced Asian Warrior (a reference to typical program choice
of many male skaters rather than ethnicity).
cold spot
a solo exhibition program in the skaters' standard repertoire
that they can perform in a variety of show situations (as opposed
to programs choreographed specifically to fit the theme of a
particular show).
puberty monster
normal teen-age growth spurts and weight gain, which can destroy
the careers of young skaters who have problems adjusting their
technique as they grow into their adult bodies.
Olympic Gold Medal
Olympic games (from the five rings)
The "Code of Points", the new judging system adopted by the ISU
in 2004.
The "Grade of Execution" assigned by judges to elements under the

Technical terms for jumps, spins, etc. are defined in the Technical
Elements FAQ.

[7] Is there any special netiquette for this group I should be aware of?

Rec.sport.skating.ice.figure is an unmoderated newsgroup, which means
that nobody has to approve the articles you post before they appear.
Instead, we rely on the voluntary cooperation of contributors to keep
the signal-to-noise ratio high.

Here are some specific hints for being a good net.citizen. Don't be
put off by the length of this list! Most of these suggestions are
just common sense.

* Some people like to watch tape-delayed competitions on TV without
knowing the results in advance. If you are posting competition
results or discussion of the results, use a subject line that
clearly indicates that your article contains results (e.g., use
the words "RESULTS" or "SPOILER"). Don't give away the results
in the subject line!

A note about "spoilers": when competitions are not shown on TV
until weeks or months after they happen, it is not reasonable to
expect others to remember to put spoiler warnings on all mentions
of the results in the meantime. It can be very difficult to
avoid making reference to competition results when discussing
current events in skating. In addition, this is an international
newsgroup and people who live in other countries can't be
expected to keep track of what events have been shown on TV where
you live. If your enjoyment of a tape-delayed event is going to
be totally ruined by seeing results in advance, your best
strategy might be to unsubscribe from the newsgroup in the

* Many readers won't have the slightest idea who you're talking
about if you refer to skaters by nicknames like "Lime Tree Man",
or even "Babs", "Masha", and the like. Even if you have to guess
at the spelling, use their real names. Also, avoid obscure
abbreviations like "S&P", or using first names only unless you've
explicitly established which Brian, Oksana, or Alexei you're
referring to.

* Make an effort to get your facts right. A lot of discussion in
this newsgroup is based on opinion, but informed opinions tend to
be taken more seriously than those based on misinformation or

* Don't post unverified second-hand rumors or malicious/defamatory
gossip about skaters (or their coaches or parents). Likewise,
don't believe every rumor you see posted here -- for example,
"news" that some skater has decided to turn pro, or that a pair
or dance team has broken up. It sometimes happens that so many
people repeat or comment on or speculate about a rumor that it's
hard to tell what the truth is. Instead of propagating the rumor
further by posting followups, look for confirmation from reliable
sources such as news reports or people who have spoken directly
with the skater or their parent, coach, or agent.

* Before you post an article ripping some skater's character to
shreds simply because they were caught on-camera making some
less-than-tactful remark, or even just looking surly backstage,
consider whether you might be jumping to the wrong conclusions.
The glimpses we see on TV of skaters' personalities and lives are
too brief and too often taken completely out of context to tell
us what they were REALLY thinking.

* Keep a sense of perspective and tolerance; don't go off the deep
end just because someone disagrees with you or insults your
favorite skater. Articles that present calm and well-reasoned
arguments are much more effective than name-calling, nasty
sarcasm, and the electronic equivalent of shouting. Rudeness
reflects badly on you and people will tend not to take anything
you say very seriously. If something said here upsets you, wait
until you calm down before composing a response.

* Respect the rights of others to hold differing or contrary
opinions. It is not your duty to "convince" anyone, nor to act
as a "spokesman" for a particular skater or cause. If you
disagree with an opinion, organize your thoughts and state your
case in one posting, rather than responding to every article or
simply repeating the same theme over and over. When
disagreements on facts or interpretations do surface, it is often
more rewarding to shift to an e-mail interchange with a specific
individual than to continue jousting in public.

* When discussing why you like your favorite skater, you shouldn't
have to resort to deprecating or maligning all of his/her
competitors, or their fans. People tend to be offended by this
line of argument rather than convinced by it.

* Posting articles that have little or no content beyond rude
personal insults directed at skaters will only make YOU look like
a total jerk. And, before you post an angry rebuttal to someone
else's article of this type, consider that it may have been a
deliberate "troll" intended to stir people up.

* Never use this forum to make personal attacks on a fellow poster.
Again, this only serves to make YOU look bad. Even if someone
makes you the object of their spite, resist the urge to try to
"defend" yourself with counteraccusations, because this only
serves to draw out the unpleasantness even longer. Remember that
your reputation in this newsgroup is determined by the kinds of
articles you post, and that sniping at other posters or getting
involved in endless rounds of public name-calling will do nothing
to make you gain respect here. On the other hand, if you
consistently contribute thoughtful, humorous, and/or well-written
articles to this newsgroup, the "regulars" here will respect you
enough to disregard any attacks made against you by the clueless.

And, here are some reminders about general Usenet netiquette:

* Before you post a request for information, check to see whether
your question has already been answered in one of the FAQ lists,
or if the information is available on the web.

* If you're posting to ask for information that is not likely to be
of general interest, ask people to respond to you by private
e-mail instead of by posting to the net. Likewise, use private
e-mail for personal chit-chat with other group members instead of
posting it.

* Don't post "me too" followup articles that don't add anything new
to the discussion.

* Avoid quoting the entire article you're following up to. Some
amount of context is desirable, but try to trim and/or summarize
as much as possible. Be careful to attribute quoted material to
the right people -- people become understandably upset when their
name is associated with someone else's statements. When in
doubt, it's better to trim off attributions entirely.

* Your messages will be more readable if you keep your lines less
than 80 characters wide. Stick with plain ASCII text; don't try
to post HTML or non-text word processor files, images, or other
binary files. Put the text of your message in the body of your
article, not as an attached file (not everyone is using a
newsreader that can "see" attachments).

* Remember that Usenet is a public forum. You should probably use
the same discretion about what you say here as you would in print
or on TV.

Finally, a word about a Usenet tradition that has taken on a life of
its own in r.s.s.i.f: Godwin's Law. This started out as a general
observation about Usenet culture: "As a Usenet discussion grows
longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler
approaches one." There is a tradition in many newsgroups that
dragging Hitler into an argument is a sure sign that all rational
discussion of the topic has been exhausted, so the thread is over by
common consent and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost
whatever argument was in progress. In r.s.s.i.f, this has been taken
one step further -- when an argument has degenerated into pointless
name-calling, somebody will often post a followup mentioning Hitler
in a tongue-in-cheek way just to signal the end of the discussion.
"Basingstoke" has a similar use here. A thread is also considered to
be over when it degenerates into a discussion about dance belts, and,
as a special case, it is now generally agreed that any threads about
Tonya Harding are over when Mike Tyson is mentioned.

[8] Don't you think Michelle should have beaten Tara at the Olympics?

This topic has already been discussed so much on the net that most
people here have totally lost interest in reading any more about it.
Anything worthwhile that could be said about the topic has already
been said, over and over again. Please spare us any more!

The same goes for rehashing Nancy vs Oksana, "The Battle of the
Brians", or any other close or controversial competition from the
past. Generally, arguments about who "should have" won some
competition (or complaints that your favorite skater "was robbed" of
a medal) that continue for weeks, months, or even years afterwards
are tedious and boring, and should be avoided.

Other recurring topics that have already been done to death:

* Arguments that the rules or scoring system must be broken because
your favorite skater didn't win, or because you don't understand
how they work. See the Rules and Regulations FAQ.

* Similar complaints about the judging. Judges do a difficult job
under stressful conditions, and often have to interpret ambiguous
rules or contradictory guidelines. Mistakes do happen, but
outright incompetence or deliberate attempts to manipulate the
results are rare.

* "Bashing" of skaters who don't stop to sign autographs or mingle
with fans. Don't assume this is an ego/personality thing -- it's
reasonable for skaters not to want to be distracted while they're
working, or it may be the result of general security directives
issued by the event management.

* Lists of favorite skaters, best programs, etc. There's nothing
wrong with posting on these topics, but do include some
discussion of WHY these are your favorites instead of just
listing them. If you want to conduct a poll, ask people to
respond by e-mail instead of posting.

* Arguments about the proper spelling of names transliterated from
Russian or other languages that don't use the Roman alphabet, or
about whether names of Chinese skaters (e.g., Chen Lu) should be
given with the surname first or last. There's no single
definitive "right way" to do these things, and as long as
everyone knows who you're talking about, it's not worth fighting

[9] Is [skater X] gay? Are [skater Y] and [skater Z] involved off-ice?

Whether they're gay or straight, it's rude to post speculation or
gossip about skaters' private lives or off-ice relationships. The
consensus that has evolved over time in this newsgroup is that we
don't discuss people's sexual orientation or personal life unless
they have chosen to make some public statement about it themselves,
or if it is otherwise a matter of public record (e.g., divorce or
legal actions). If it would be rude to ask the skaters about it to
their face, then it's rude to discuss it on the net.

Besides showing respect for the skaters' privacy, we also try to keep
the focus of discussion here on skating rather than personal gossip
about skaters. It's reasonable to discuss such things in the context
of how it relates to the skater's artistic choices, or whether/how it
affects their public image or the career opportunities they are
offered or choose to pursue, but we have a low tolerance for gossip
for its own sake.

You can find a list of skaters who are gay and who have chosen to
discuss their orientation in public at

[10] Why are you people being so nasty and critical about all these
wonderful skaters?

Critical discussion of what makes good and bad skating, in terms of
both the technical and the entertainment or artistic aspects of the
sport, is an essential purpose and function of
rec.sport.skating.ice.figure. We participate in this newsgroup
because we enjoy serious discussion of these issues; and multiple
points of view and diversity of opinion help to broaden our
understanding of the sport in general.

Elite-level skaters are entertainers and public figures as well as
athletes. Being judged and compared and viewed critically is all
part of their job, the same as for performing artists in other
fields. If skaters were so thin-skinned that they couldn't deal with
public commentary on their work, they wouldn't be in this business at

Criticism is often part of discussions of why skaters didn't get
better marks from the judges, or what they need to do to improve or
be more competitive. Such discussion isn't intended to be insulting
or disrespectful to the skaters. Besides, there are probably more
articles here expressing praise, excitement, encouragement, or other
positive opinions, than negative ones.

Sometimes people argue that we shouldn't express criticism of skaters
unless we could do a better job ourselves. This isn't a very
convincing argument. After all, figure skating judges qualify by
demonstrating that they are skilled at watching and evaluating figure
skating, not at doing it. It's possible to have a lot of technical
knowledge about the sport even if you're physically incapable of
doing it yourself. Moreover, we are all qualified to express our
opinions on whether we find skaters' performances entertaining or
satisfying from an artistic point of view.

Sometimes people are bothered by seeing criticism of skaters because
they're more familiar with other online forums that have a more
"fannish" orientation, and/or because it's their own favorite skater
who is being criticized. If you want to try to argue that the
criticism is mistaken, feel free to join the fray, but you're
unlikely to convince anybody just by whining that all is not
sweetness and light here.

On the other hand, nasty personal attacks directed at a skater's
character -- as opposed to their skating -- are not appreciated in
this newsgroup. Mindless "skater X sucks" or "I hate skater Y"
articles are not appropriate here, either; beware of trolls.

[11] What's this about "trolls"?

A "troll" is a deliberate attempt to cause disruption or start a
flame war by posting misinformation, personal attacks, or outrageous
claims. People who post trolls want to stir people up and provoke a
response, and the best way to deal with them is simply to ignore
them. They'll go away if they don't get the reaction they want.

Notorious examples of past RSSIF "trolls" have ranged from fairly
harmless fictions, such as the poster who claimed Nicole Bobek is
Australian, Kristi Yamaguchi is Mexican, and so on; to people who
have apparently taken great delight in making cruel, spiteful
comments about other netters' personal tragedies. Articles
containing rude remarks about the (presumed) sexual orientation,
physical appearance, or off-ice behavior or "morals" of various
skaters are almost always "trolls", too.

In general, be suspicious of articles that contain nothing but
inflammatory, rude, and offensive comments about skating or skaters,
that make accusations about conspiracies or have some other obvious
non-skating, political agenda. Some other warning signs that an
article may be a "troll" are if it's from an obvious "newbie" to the
group who is apparently more interested in insulting people than in
discussing the sport of skating, or if the same poster has flooded
the newsgroup with dozens of articles which all contain the same kind
of insults directed at the same skater(s) and/or newsgroup regulars.
Again, it's better to let these threads die a quick death rather than
to try to refute them.

[12] What other things are considered inappropriate here?

* Articles that don't fall within the charter of the newsgroup:
"Spam", warnings about e-mail viruses, discussion of current news
events unrelated to skating, and so on.

* Articles whose primary focus is gay-bashing, politics, religion,
accusations of racism, flames about other people's morals, or
other similarly volatile topics, rather than skating. Past
experience has shown that discussions on these topics tend to
quickly degenerate into emotional flamefests filled with
hysterical ranting, appeals to people's religious beliefs, and
claims that cannot be substantiated in fact.

* Discussion of current non-skating news events, no matter how
important (e.g., the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center),
unless you are posting about aspects that are specifically
relevant to skating. Many people want to come to this newsgroup
in order to take a mental break from the overwhelming,
wall-to-wall media coverage of such events. In addition, when
discussions of current events do break out in this group, they
all too often degenerate into flamefests and personal attacks on
other posters. Please, do everyone a favor and find a more
appropriate forum for discussing these topics.

* Advertisements. Most people don't object to skating-related
businesses announcing their web pages or contributing information
to ongoing discussions, but people will be annoyed if you flood
the newsgroup with sales pitches and advertising hype. If you
are an individual with something skating-related to sell (for
example, tickets you can't use) you can probably get away with
posting an ad ONCE, but if you regularly have items to sell, you
need to find some other way to advertise them. Remember that
advertisements add nothing to the discussions in this group.

* Copyrighted material such as news articles. The preferred way to
share such things on the newsgroup is to post the URL to the
online article, with a quick summary or a short quote or two.

[13] Is there anything we can do to get rid of trolls and spammers?

In general, the best way to deal with SPAM, trolls, and other
disruptive posts in the newsgroup is NOT to post follow-ups
complaining about or responding to the inappropriate articles. (If
you're looking for a newsgroup to discuss such problems in general,
try news.admin.net-abuse.usenet.)

The easiest way to deal with persistent spammers and trolls is simply
to ignore them. Most newsreaders support some form of filtering or
killfiling by poster; read your help pages or other documentation to
find out how to use it.

If someone is disrupting the newsgroup with inappropriate articles,
you can also complain to their internet service provider or the
Usenet news service they used to post the articles. (You'll need to
examine the message headers to identify where the message originated;
it doesn't always match the e-mail address.) Most ISPs have "terms
of service" agreements prominently posted on their web sites that
prohibit the use of their facilities for distributing SPAM, harassing
or threatening others, and the like. Often these user contracts also
prohibit disruptive or off-topic posting, or violating "community
standards", in Usenet newsgroups and other online discussion forums.
If you can't find an abuse complaint e-mailbox or other contact
information listed on the ISP's web site, try an address of the form
"[email protected]". When you complain to an ISP in this way, it's
important to include a copy of the abusive message with complete
message headers, and to be explicit about why you think it violates
their "terms of service" agreement. If the spammer/troll has a
history or pattern of disrupting the newsgroup, be explicit about
that, too. And, try to be polite, too.

[14] Can anybody send me a video tape of [some televised skating event]?

Be cautious about posting requests like this. Copying and shipping
tapes is a hassle and it's unreasonable to expect random people on
the net to do this for you as a favor. Also, keep in mind that
making tapes of televised events for other than your own personal
viewing is technically a copyright violation, and the more organized
and large-scale your tape-copying activity is, the more likely you
are to get into legal trouble for doing it.

Try to find tapes from commercial sources when possible. E.g.,
high-quality tapes of US Nationals, Skate America, Worlds, etc. are
sold by Video Sports at 1-800-872-1996 or http://www.skatetape.com/.
You can rent videotapes of many of these events by mail from the
Skate Canada; contact them at 613-748-5635 (x2521) for a catalog.
R&J Video at 209-476-0124 sells tapes of events including 1990, 1993,
and 1996 US Nationals. Rainbo Sports at 1-800-752-8370 sells many
popular commercial skating tapes.

One caveat: beware of commercial tapes produced by NBC Sports (such
as their world championships compilations). The performances have
been dubbed over with some horribly generic imitation music because
NBC is too cheap or lazy to get the rights to the music originally
used by the skaters.

Here are some other suggestions for tape-trading etiquette.

* Do not e-mail requests for tapes to individuals who post here
unless they have specifically offered to trade tapes.

* If you know you will not be able to view or tape an event, try
making advance arrangements with a friend or relative to tape the
event for you instead of waiting until after the broadcast to try
to find a copy.

* Try to find tapes locally before you bother the entire net with
requests. Again, ask friends, relatives, and coworkers first.
People who live near you may be willing to simply lend you their
tapes, which is a lot less hassle than copying and shipping tapes
long-distance. Also, if you belong to a skating club, chances
are others there also collect tapes, and/or the club may have a
library of tapes.

* If you must post a request for a tape, include "tape request" in
your subject line so that people who aren't interested can skip
your message.

* Don't post "me too" requests; e-mail these to the person who
posted the original request. If someone is kind enough to share
a tape with you, be prepared to share it with others as well.
(One arrangement that has worked well in the past is a
round-robin where the same master tape is passed around, instead
of expecting one person to make copies for everyone.)

* People may be more willing to share their tapes with you if you
can trade them something from your own collection in return.
It's common to offer reimbursement for the tape and postage, but
this DOESN'T recompense people for their time in making the tape
for you.

[15] Any hints for taking photographs at skating events?

First of all, do not ever use a flash for skating photography. You
will be too far away from the skaters for it to make any difference
for your pictures, and the flash could startle or blind the skaters
and cause them to fall. If you have a cheap point-and-shoot camera
that won't let you turn off the flash or adjust the exposure to take
good pictures without one, you might as well leave it at home.

The TV lights used at skating competitions are very bright.
Professional shows and competitions usually have lighting between
f2.8 and f5.6 at 1/250 second on 800 speed film. One netter suggests
taking a reading on white ice and then opening up two stops. Other
netters report getting good pictures even on 400 speed film.

You will probably want to use a medium telephoto or zoom lens, e.g.
70-210mm. People who have tried using very long, heavy lenses and/or
monopods at skating events report that it is too awkward to handle
that much bulky equipment from the arena seats, and that you are also
more likely to get hassled by the arena staff if you carry too much
professional-looking photographic equipment with you.

Digital cameras are becoming very popular nowadays, but the 3x zoom
lens and maximum 400 ISO rating on most low-end consumer models are
not really adequate for skating photography. On the positive side, a
digital camera makes it practical to shoot hundreds of photos at a
time, even if only a fraction of them turn out well.

A web article with some good general information on sports
photography can be found at

[16] What the heck is a "dance belt"?

It's the undergarment typically worn by male dancers and skaters to
provide both support and a smooth appearance under their tights or
pants. They're made of lycra and elastic and look like tight briefs
in front, with a thong back.

Most female skaters don't wear any underwear at all under their
costumes, by the way, although some do wear a bra and/or lycra body
stocking for support. And the tights that female skaters wear are
typically quite thick and completely opaque, not ordinary sheer nylon
pantyhose women wear with dress clothing.

One other clothing-related note: the heavily beaded and sequinned
competition costumes skaters wear are usually neither washable nor
dry-cleanable. This is one reason why skaters usually get new
costumes made every year!

[17] I'm going to be attending a competition! What should I wear?

Contrary to the impression you may get from seeing Dick Button and
Peggy Fleming on TV, people attending skating events as spectators
don't normally wear formal evening dress. Fur coats are also
considered politically incorrect these days.

The best advice is to wear something comfortable and dress in layers
so that you can adjust to whatever temperature the rink is. Large
arenas are usually warm enough that you'll be comfortable in a
long-sleeved shirt or sweater unless you are sitting right at ice
level. On the other hand, practice rinks can be very cold and you'll
probably want to wear a coat as well as a hat and gloves, and
possibly even bring an afghan or blanket. Don't forget sensible
footwear and warm socks, too.

Some other things you might want to bring with you to the
competition: a water bottle, food, binoculars, a notebook and
something to write with, and a tote bag to put all this stuff in.
Note, though, that competition organizers and venues are becoming
increasingly restrictive about what may be brought into the arena;
backpack-style bags seem to be a particular source of trouble. It's
best to check in advance about policies about what may be brought in,
or restrictions on the size or type of bags.

[18] Can I visit [some rink] to watch skaters practicing?

Most rinks do not mind spectators at "regular" practice sessions,
although private rentals may be closed and a few rinks that cater
primarily to elite skaters discourage visitors. It's best to call in
advance and ask. Be aware that, for security reasons, most rinks
will not give out specific practice times for specific skaters.

It's also a good idea to check in at the rink office when you arrive,
so that people will know why you are there. Sometimes skaters,
coaches, and parents do worry that strangers at the rink may be
stalkers or child molesters. If people seem to be regarding you
suspiciously, you can try introducing yourself and explaining that
you are just there to watch the skating.

One helpful hint: if you are a paying customer at the rink, your
presence is much less likely to cause concern. If you don't skate,
spend some money at the snack bar or pro shop instead.

Do be discreet when you visit the rink and don't distract the skaters
while they are on the ice or preparing to skate. Taking photos or
video is a no-no.

Also be discreet in reporting what you see on the net. In
particular, elite skaters' daily practice schedules shouldn't be
publicized on the net for the same reasons that the rinks won't give
this information out to the public over the phone. It is also
considered bad form to publicly reveal the details of new programs
you may see the skaters working on, unless you explicitly get their
permission to do so. More generally, elite skaters deserve some
privacy when working at their home rinks, and the freedom to do their
thing without worrying that their every move in practice is going to
be reported on the net, or that they are continually on public
display or being spied on by people they don't know. Remember that
you are a guest at their rink and that it is a privilege to be
allowed to watch at all.