Ice Chalet Knoxville Tennessee


Welcome! We are pleased that you have chosen to learn to skate with us! We hope you will enjoy your experience. The Ice Chalet is a founding member of the Ice Skating Institute’s Learn to Skate program -- each class is designed to build upon the skills of the previous class in a fun and challenging way.


Arrive 15-30 minutes before class time to be sure we get your skater properly fitted. Skates need to fit tightly -- thin socks are best, and only one pair; thick socks increase the odds of blisters and poor performance.

CLOTHES: Warm & comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows for easy movement (not jeans or bulky clothes), thin socks, and don’t forget gloves! Toboggans or helmets are optional, but recommended, for very young children.

Several classes are held simultaneously -- your skater will be given a class card when he/she checks in at the front desk. They give this card to the teacher at the start of class -- in this way, we know your skater is in the correct class.

Please observe classes from the lobby, stands, or party rooms. Skaters are easily distracted, and if parents or other loved ones are standing near the walls, it is very difficult for the instructors to keep the skaters’ attention.

Building Layout


Use the practice time just before or after your class to work on skills learned during class, and use the discounts for public session admission that come with your class registration to practice even more! During class times, the practice area is the area of the ice close to the lobby. For tots, we’ll set up a special coned-off area for skaters needing skate aids. The most progress is made with extra practice.


We value the relationship that our students develop with our teachers through regular, consistent interaction and instruction. We assign teachers at the start of each term based on the initial enrollment to ensure the best possible student-teacher ratio. For these reasons, students are encouraged to make every effort to attend the specific class and day for which they are registered. Students will make the most progress by regular attendance and practice.

Students may make-up one class per term missed due to illness or personal conflict, but not just as a matter of preference. In order to attend a make-up class, students must notify us at least one day in advance so that we can be sure that we have the correct number of teachers on-hand. This is for the benefit of all the students, including the student doing the make-up.

For the same reasons mentioned above (regarding make-ups), transferring to another class is discouraged. If a transfer is necessary, please consult the Skating School Director so that the best possible arrangements can be made for the student requesting the transfer and the students in the class the student wishes to transfer to.


Halfway through the term, students will receive progress reports to help them understand what skills need improvement if they expect to pass to the next level at the end of the term.

At the end of the term, students will receive an evaluation that will determine which class they should enroll in for the next term. Those who pass will receive an embroidered badge.

It may take more than one or two terms to pass a particular level. Alpha & Beta are especially difficult to pass quickly, so please help us keep expectations at a reasonable level and understand that each skater needs to master the skills at one level before moving up to the next level.


For Alpha classes and up, students may be added to classes during the first half of each term, and class costs will be pro-rated based on the remaining number of classes, but only if more than one week has been missed. If only one week has been missed, the student may arrange to make up that week by attending a different class (with advance notice).

For Beginner/Pre-Alpha classes, students may be added to classes during the first two weeks of the term -- after that, they are asked to wait until the next Introductory Classes are offered (usually every four weeks). If only one week has been missed, the student may arrange to make up that week by attending a different class -- the advance notice requirement is still in effect.

As long as students are registered for classes, even if the term has not yet started, they are also welcome to arrange for private lessons in the interim. (See “Private Lessons” brochure).


Boots fit properly if they are snug, yet relatively comfortable. The boot will border on the uncomfortable at first, but with time it will feel more comfortable. Boots should provide enough support around the ankles to keep them from flopping from side to side, but not so stiff that you cannot bend the ankles adequately. The proper skate size may be one to two sizes smaller than street shoes depending upon how the skate boot is made.


If you are serious about wanting to skate more, you will need your own boots and blades. Good quality, used skates can be a great bargain, especially for children whose feet are always growing. However, a child can get away with no more than one extra half size of “growing room.” Look for notices on the bulletin board.

If you decide to buy new boots, the Ice Chalet staff will be glad to help you find the right boots and blades. You will also get a free five-session public session pass with your purchase!

Our Pro Shop staff can help you obtain a professional fit. We sell different boots and blades suited for your skating level as well as your size. If we don't have your size or style in stock, we can order them for you. Please check with the counter staff to find out when a skate fitter will be available or to make an appointment. It is in their best interest to keep you comfortable and happy so that you will come back!

Avoid molded, plastic skates -- they don’t allow for sufficient flexibility. If you buy your skates online, please be aware that they may need to be sharpened before they can actually be used.


If you buy your own skates, be sure to get the blades sharpened regularly -- usually after about 30 hours of skating.


Students enrolled in classes are eligible to take private lessons from our coaching staff.
Private lessons are usually conducted during Freestyle practice sessions or uncrowded public sessions. Ethically, coaches are discouraged from suggesting private lessons, so you will need to approach the instructor yourself. This is a great way to help your skater progress faster or prepare for a competition or test. See the “Private Lessons” brochure for details.


Basic skills tests are conducted in class; there is no extra charge. Once the skater passes Delta, they enter the ten levels of Freestyle testing. Freestyle, Dance, Pair, etc. test sessions are conducted once a month, and for Freestyle and Pairs the skater must skate a choreographed program to music as well as pass the maneuvers. There is a fee for Freestyle, Dance, Pair, etc. tests.


The Ice Chalet now covers your skater’s membership in the international Ice Sports Industry. The ISI is dedicated to bringing skating skills to the widest possible group of people and hosts competitions in a team format for skaters of all skill levels. Your ISI membership includes a subscription to the quarterly magazine as well as supplemental insurance. Recreational ice skating is a lifelong sport!

The other major skating association is United States Figure Skating (USFS), whose objective is to nurture the development of skaters leading to participation in Olympic and world competitions. It is the official national governing body recognized by the International Skating Union (ISU) and the International Olympic
Committee. Many skaters participate in both programs.


Want to perform in an ice show? Dedicated ISI skaters often choose the show skating route as their ultimate goal -- The Ice Chalet has had many skaters skate for Disney On Ice, Ice Theatre of New York, Holiday On Ice, and more!


Every Fall, the Ice Chalet spends several weeks preparing for our big show, the annual “Nutcracker On Ice.” There are roles for skaters of all ages and skill levels, from tots to adults. Clowns, Gingerbreads, Jesters, Ice Crystals, Waltzers, Arabians, Prince & Princess, etc. -- many skaters progress through the roles as their skating skills improve over the years. Rehearsals begin in mid-October, and the show is
presented over a five-day period in early December. Look for entry forms in September. It’s great fun, and it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays. Cast members must be enrolled in classes.


The Ice Chalet presents a special showcase event in the Spring and at the end of the Summer term to give skaters of all levels a chance to show off what they have learned!


“Theatre On Ice” is a class on Friday evenings for skaters of all ages and skill levels to come together to learn the choreography for a production number or kaleidoskate routine. This routine is usually taken to out-of-town competitions, presented during the Summer Show, and presented at our own competition. Team events such as this, as well as Synchronized Skating earn the team extra points at ISI competitions! Skaters must be enrolled in classes.


Skating as a team takes on special meaning when the moves are performed in perfect unison. Synchronized skating helps strengthen individual skating skills; It also promotes an understanding of what it means to be a part of a team. This discipline requires a true team commitment – every team member is dependent on every other team member – for dedication, practice, attendance, and literally staying upright. Teams begin preparing for the year in August.
-- Youth/Jr Youth Team (usually Tot 3 or Alpha through Freestyle 3)
-- Sr Youth/Teen Team (usually Freestyle 1 through 5)
-- Teen/Collegiate Team (usually Freestyle 4 and higher)


Each Spring, the Ice Chalet hosts a team skating competition, called the Robert Unger ISI Team Competition.
The focus is on fun -- the objective is to earn points for your team. Skaters compete against other skaters at their same age and skill levels in a variety of categories, including the basic program for their skill level, Spotlights, Stroking, Solo Compulsories, and more.

Check out the “Can I Compete?” brochure for our special Program Preparation classes for our own Robert Unger ISI Competition held each Spring. If you want to work with a coach on your own, that’s fine, but start preparing early! Choice of music, costume, choreography, and practice are all required to help you succeed.

Out-of-town Competitions: We usually take teams to two or three out-of-town competitions each year, but the dates and places change each year. Some of the events we may attend are:
Point Mallard Competition (Decatur, AL), ISI World Recreational Skating Championships (location changes),
ISI Winter Classic (February; location changes), Owensboro Edge Competition (February - Kentucky),
Miami of Ohio Competition (February -- Oxford, Ohio), Lake Placid Competition (January - New York)


Myth: Since I passed Beta, I’ll do well against other skaters of my same age and skill level. Fact: Passing Beta means that you can perform the required maneuvers to a “passing” level, which is a score of 5 out of 10. However, you’ll be competing against other skaters who not only passed Beta, but probably have improved their skills through continuous practice, so that if they were to test Beta again, they would probably score an 8 or 9 out of 10.

Preparing for a competition requires a much higher degree of preparation and practice than just testing. Testing means you can do the MINIMUM skills required for that level; success in competition requires SUPERIOR skills and polish through repetition and attention to details such as posture, speed, and presentation (i.e., smiling, costume, arm movements, rhythm, music choice, props, and more).


Group lessons are designed to give students the testing criteria for each level, an understanding of the passing standards, and individualized help as much as possible. However, there is no substitute for practice. Students who take advantage of the practice ice the day of their lesson as well as the extra public session each week excel much faster than students who only attend group lessons and rarely practice on their own. A child with all the talent in the world will never achieve his/her potential without practice.

Avoid Comparisons!
Different children progress at different speeds and at different times, sometimes in spurts, sometimes in slow, subtle ways. Some children need to analyze moves first before learning to do them well. Others watch another skater and mimic what they see. Some skaters are better spinners than jumpers, some have better posture or footwork, some are more musical – each child is different. This is why it is important to avoid comparing your child’s progress to another’s. A good skater may be slower to progress through the basic levels for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ultimately achieve as much as the skater who seems to be rocketing through the skill levels. The one who progresses more slowly at first may also learn greater power and control, laying a strong foundation for the higher-level maneuvers and earning better scores when they do take and pass a test.

Tests are graded on a 10-point scale for each maneuver. Skaters can pass a test element with a “5”, but they should aim to make at least 7s and 8s. Practice is the single most important factor in mastering skills, but attitude is the key. A child who wants to learn will learn. Help your child understand that it’s okay to take a little longer to pass a certain level than another skater.

Learning to skate is not a race; it’s an art.

Freestyle (after Delta) versus Basics Testing

Testing is a little different in Freestyle than in the basic levels. For Tots and Pre-Alpha through Delta, the testing is done during regular classes by the class instructor, and the cost is included in the group lesson cost. Once the skater has passed Delta, there are 10 levels of Freestyle ahead. For Freestyle testing as well as Dance and Pairs, testing is held at a special session once a month, and there is a $ 20.00 fee. There are two stages of Freestyle testing -- after you pass the compulsories, you must skate a continuous program skating the required maneuvers to music.

For Freestyle 1 & 2, skaters can choose to attend the Monday evening Intro to Freestyle classes, and we will prepare a program for you. The alternative is private lessons where skaters learn a program from an instructor of their choice. If you choose to have private lessons, you will need to pay the Ice Chalet for the ice time for a Freestyle session (see the “Skaters Guide to the Ice Chalet” for times and cost) as well as pay the private lesson instructor directly for his/her services. Be sure to dress nicely, as if you are competing, to show your professionalism and to show off your posture and skills.


Myth: My skater is “a quick study” and can learn a program in a couple of weeks that’s good enough to win first or second place.

Fact: Although this strategy can occasionally work, most skaters will have a consistently better experience with early preparation and repeated practice.

Start working on your programs at least three months ahead of the competition date. The most successful competition programs have been refined and polished, tested in competition, evolved with a student’s skills, and used for more than one year!

Note: Due to the limited availabililty of freestyle practice ice time, coaches’ private lesson schedules can get filled up early in the season, especially as we get closer to competition and testing dates. “Freestyle practice” times are the only ice times for playing music for students to run through their programs. Private lessons are 20 minutes long. The rest of the practice session should be used for practice!


Most students preparing for a competition have a weekly private lesson with their coach. If you prefer to only have a private lesson every once in a while, and not weekly, please make sure the coach understands this. Note that the slot that your student has this week cannot just be held “open” whenever you decide it’s time for a lesson. Privates may be conducted during “freestyle” practice sessions or uncrowded public sessions, and admission to these sessions must be paid for separately from the private lesson itself. (For lessons held during public sessions, use of the music box is allowed only with special permission.) You will pay the teacher directly.


Whether lessons are scheduled during “freestyle” practice times or uncrowded public sessions, skaters must pay for the ice time separately from the private lesson itself. (See the “Skaters Guide to the Ice Chalet” brochure for details.) To save money, skaters might consider the “Freestyle Stroking and Practice Pass” or our “All You Can Skate” program.


It is the skater’s responsibility to notify the instructor of cancellations at least 24 hours ahead of time so that the instructor can schedule another student for the time.


Students enrolled in our group lesson program may take private lessons. Any adult (18 years or older) may take private lessons without being enrolled in classes. Skaters visiting from out of town may take private lessons for a maximum of two weeks.


Myth: All coaches teach the same way.
Fact: Learning and teaching styles vary from student to student and from coach to coach, and it’s important to find the right “fit” for your skater.

Choose a coach carefully! Don’t rely on one person’s recommendation or just asking whoever happens to be in the lobby at the right time. Discuss goals -- do you want the skater to be pushed or just to have fun?

Select a coach because they have the right type of experience for your skater’s needs and objectives, the appropriate instructive style for your skater’s age and personality, and good rapport with your skater. Most skaters try to establish a long-term working relationship with one particular coach so that the skater and coach learn how to communicate well with each other and become familiar with the student’s learning style and the motivational techniques that work for that skater. Remember: There is no ONE correct way to teach most skating maneuvers; the coach and the student must work together to find the technique that brings the best result for the skater.

Please note that it is not considered ethical for coaches to solicit private lessons. The parent or student should approach the coach, not the reverse. See the “Private Lessons’ brochure for more information.


Some skaters can benefit from multiple coaches, especially at the higher skill levels, but it is advisable to have one PRIMARY coach so that decisions about being ready to test a certain level or competition event choices can be made with full knowledge of the skater’s skills and talents. Make sure the coaches communicate with each other regularly.


If you decide the current coaching relationship isn’t working or if you decide you want to have multiple coaches, talk to the current coach before changing or adding coaches. Although we teach as a team, coaches are people, too, and it’s hurtful to find out from someone else that “your student” has changed coaches. Professional courtesy and ethics require that a coach inform another coach when approached to work with a student who had established a prior relationship with the other coach. If the first coach isn’t aware of the situation, it creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for everyone.



Myth: I’ve seen a lot of skating events, so I can just prepare a program and music myself.
Fact: There are specific rules for each event, including timing, maneuver limitations, and different judging criteria, and ISI-certified coaches have studied the rulebook and passed tests verifying that they understand these rules. Coaches have also seen what works and what doesn’t. Even just the order of placing skills in the choreography can make a significant difference in a skater’s success.

Our skaters are representing a proud tradition at our school, so we must at least have a certified coach review the program before allowing it to be competed.


The correct music choice and the correct editing of that music are critical to the success of the program. Some music just isn’t appropriate, or has the wrong beat, or may not be pleasing to the judges’ ears. Most importantly, the skater can be penalized for exceeding the time limits. Our standard charge is $10.00 for a piece of music with simple editing and one or two fairly simple cuts. The backup copy is an additional $1.00. This should be paid to the person who made the cuts and produced the CDs.

Consult with your coach, discuss possible choices, and carefully arrive at a decision. Keep in mind that a new piece of music may not be recognizable to the judges. Your spotlight may seem very special and appropriate to the skater, but if the judges are going to wonder what that program was about because they don’t understand the lyrics, you may be disappointed in the results.


The costume must be appropriate for the music, show the skater’s body line, and give the impression that some care and thought was given to the choice of costume. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive dress, but it shouldn’t just be a practice dress, either. The right costume can boost the skater’s self-esteem and confidence as well.



For events that allow props, they are optional, but they definitely help. The prop must be easy to see (and read if applicable), easy to set up and take down, represent some thought and effort on the part of the skater and coach (and parents, too), and most importantly, the prop should be used effectively in the choreography. A prop that just sets the scene is okay, but it’s better to have the skater interact with the prop in some way -- and the more interaction, the better.


The opening and the ending moves set the tone for the program. The transitions between each move can make the maneuvers more or less difficult to perform and more or less pleasing to the judges’ eyes. The choreography must match the music as well as the skater’s own skating styles, weaknesses, and strengths. The pattern must cover most of the ice. These are just a few of the nuances involved in the “art” of choreography. However, skaters have different speeds, edge quality and control, power, etc., and sometimes the original choreography must be tweaked and refined over repeated run-throughs to eventually have a quality program ready for competition.


Some competition events are judged by more objective criteria, others a combination of objective and subjective criteria.

Basics and Freestyle, i.e., Tot 1-4, Pre-Alpha--Delta, Freestyle 1-10, etc.

This is a technical program with emphasis on the required maneuvers from the skater’s current test level. No props. Judging Criteria: Correctness of required maneuvers, extra content, pattern, duration, rhythm, posture, and general overall.

Spotlight -- Solo, Couples, Family

This is a routine that is entertaining, emotional, or a portrayal of characters. Costume and props are very important, as well as the choice of music.
Light Entertainment: The focus is on light-hearted entertainment using music, props (optional), comedy, dance, and skating moves.
Dramatic: This is a theatrical performance evoking an emotional response from the judges and the audience.
Character: The character must be easily identifiable, i.e., Pink Panther, Superman, Dolly Parton...
Judging Criteria: Music and choreography, costume and prop, originality, duration, and judge appeal.


Skaters demonstrate their basic stroking skills to music selected by the host rink.
Judging Criteria: Cleanliness of edges, endurance, flexible skating knee and flow, free leg extension, proper push-offs, posture, and rhythm.


Competition expenses include event fees paid to the host rink, the coaches/judges fee paid to the Ice Chalet, plus travel and lodging costs. The Ice Chalet Skating Club of Knoxville often holds fundraisers to help with team expenses for some out-of-town competitions.


Coaches are required to serve as judges at ISI competitions, so they may not be available to put their own skaters on the ice for each event. We coach as a team, and we make every effort to ensure that at least one of our coaches is in the chaperone area for our skaters as they compete.


Ultimately, we can’t control the outcome. Even the best prepared student can still place low in the standings. Some judging criteria are subjective, and judges may not agree on the outcome. That’s why there are three judges -- so that only one judge’s opinion will not control the outcome. Also, the judging criteria are divided among the judges on each panel -- one judge may be scoring the waltz jump, and another the dance step sequence, or one judge may have duration and another rhythym.

Even if they are all judging the same element (which varies with different events), judges may have personal preferences for the way a skill is performed above and beyond the minimal testing requirement. For example, in an arabesque, the book only requires that the free foot (the one in the air) must be at least as high as the skating hip (the hip of the leg on the ice). As long as that requirement is met, judges can disagree about whether it’s more important to get the free leg higher or to keep the back and head up. The judging panel for that set of events, the skaters against whom that skater is competing, ice conditions, lighting conditions, sound system clarity, minor variations in skater performance on that particular day, skaters’ posture, and many other issues can affect the outcome.


Talk to your skater’s coach or the team coach. In extreme cases, if they can’t explain the results, they may consult with the Competition Director. There is a specific procedure for a review of the scores, but it is rarely used because there is usually a hefty fee. Ultimately, the results shouldn’t matter that much if the parent and skater focus on their own performance, and not their placement with regard to other skaters.


Focus on the skater doing his or her best, and not the medals, and everyone is a winner! Learning how to handle placing fifth is just as important as learning how to win gracefully. Skaters and their parents represent our team, and we expect them to represent the Ice Chalet team with dignity, compassion, and courtesy.

The best skaters in the world achieve more respect for their good sportsmanship than for their technical skills. The way Michelle Kwan handled coming in second to Tara Lipinski in the 1998 Olympics is a prime example. She was favored to win the gold medal, and when she won silver instead, everyone would have understood if she had shown her disappointment or complained about the judging. Michelle smiled and talked about how proud she was of her achievement. As a result, she endeared herself to audiences worldwide. Everyone is a winner if we focus on doing our best, regardless of how the outcome is judged by others.

At competitions, skaters will usually lose some and win some. It’s important to teach your skater that losing is just a way of motivating us to do better next time. If a skater or parent is upset about their placement, use this as a learning experience. What can they do next time to improve their performance? Was it just a matter of nerves? Is there a technique issue? A lack of power? Learn from it! Controlling our emotions (despite our natural disappointment) is a valuable lesson in the path to maturity. Remember those losses when you do win – someone else may be feeling disappointment while you are enjoying your good fortune.


Each group of new skaters brings its own mix of personalities, quirks, insecurities, fears, jealousies, and friendships. Parents contribute to the mix, too. Eventually, a few skaters show leadership and exhibit a special team spirit that is contagious to the whole group. If students or parents think that one or two skaters are getting favorable treatment or breaking the rules with impunity, jealousy can dissolve the camaraderie that is necessary for true team spirit. The staff places a high value on that camaraderie and would not intentionally do anything to damage it. Ideally, every skater and parent should be cheering on every other skater, putting aside personal differences for the sake of the team. Any concerns should be brought to the attention of the skating school director, not gossiped about in the lobby or even at home. Your child listens to what you say; they may repeat it to their teammates without understanding that their actions are a detriment to the team.


Skaters should be neatly groomed and dressed. Do not allow hair to fall loosely; we suggest a ponytail, braid, or bun. Tuck laces in to the top of the boot or under tights -- do not let them dangle like spaghetti! Do not wear baggy clothing that obscures the body. Be sure that underwear doesn’t show under skirts (snowing) and that straps don’t show. For over-the-boot tights, be sure that they are secured and not riding up around your boots. Go easy on the make-up. Minimize or omit jewelry -- they can get in the way or fall off during competition, creating a hazard.


If you stop during the first few seconds of your program, you can re-start your program without a penalty. Make sure the judges understand that you would like to start again.


If you fall, get back up as quickly as possible and continue skating your program. A fall is not a disaster! It may not affect the scores as much as you might imagine. Skaters are allowed to attempt a maneuver again. We believe this is an important “life lesson” for our skaters: what matters most is that the skater gets back up and completes the program (as long as the skater is not hurt, of course).

See a competition checklist and the ISI Skaters' Creed in our PDF: "How To Increase Your Chances of Success in Testing, Competitions & Shows"!


If you have suggestions for more questions for this page, please let us know! THANK YOU!