So you want to be a judge

How to become a judge…

Judges play a large role in U.S. Figure Skating in many ways. They evaluate skaters in their official tests, rank skaters in competitions and provide valuable feedback to skaters and coaches. So, where do judges come from and how do you become one?

The most important qualities for judges are a desire to be of service to the sport, ability to make independent decisions and explain them, ability to handle stress and knowledge of the sport. Judges dedicate themselves to continual learning—initially to become proficient with the fundamentals of skating and how to evaluate elements, and later to keep current with rules and current practices.

The judging journey begins with becoming a Trial Judge. The requirements are that you are at least 16 years old (18 when first appointment is made), a current member of U.S. Figure Skating, complete a U.S. Figure Skating background check and the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s online training, and agree to U.S. Figure Skating’s Social Media Policy, Travel Policy, Code of Ethics and additional documents regarding conflict of interest waivers, medical release and the Officials’ Creed.  All of the criteria and applications can be found in the Members Only section of the U.S. Figure Skating website (, under “Officials,” then “Judges.” There is information for trial judges as well as current judges and many documents and videos to become familiar with.

If you meet the requirements and want to start this journey, there is a link to the online application in the Trial Judges area of the website.  Once submitted, your application will be sent to the appropriate vice chair. Your vice chair will reach out to you and confirm your registration and work with you to assign a mentor. Mentors (formerly called monitor) will be an official judge in your area who can guide you through the process. Mentors are incredibly valuable and it is important to stay in contact with them regularly.

Once you have been accepted and have been assigned a monitor, you will want to work with them in advance of your first test session as a trial judge. There is a Trial Judge Kit on the website that has a great deal of information on how to get started and what to do as a trial judge.  There are also charts that indicate what the requirements are for first appointments. There are three levels of trial judges: Standard, Accelerated, and Advanced, depending on what levels in skating the trial judge achieved. 

Judging is an incredibly rewarding activity. I initially started while in college as a way to keep involved in skating. I have made many life-long friends and learned more about my sport than I ever thought possible. If you have more questions before applying, feel free to contact Heather Nemier at or Ellyn Kestnbaum at

Heather Nemier, Vice President WFSC, 2023

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