The first step on starting to compete is to talk to a coach. The coach can walk you through all the steps, which can be confusing. The initial steps for competition is to determine the skater's level (coach can tell you) and pick music. The coach will then cut the music to the correct length and choreograph the skater's program. At this point the skater will need private lessons and frequent ice time to learn and practice.
There are several competitions around the area, you'll need to ask to see what is available in the timeframe you'd like. The registration window for each competition will vary, but usually opens 2-3 months before a competition and closes about a month before the competition. You'll register for the competitions online using either Entryezee (http://www.entryeeze.com/) or US Figure Skating's EMS ( https://www.usfsaonline.org/EMS#). Your coach should be able to provide the correct link. The competitions normally fall into the $50-70 range for a single freeskate entry. The coaches need to tell you what level your skater is competing at when you register.
After you register, you'll have to go back in and also buy practice ice time ($20). Sometimes the practice ice is available to purchase immediately, and others it doesn't become available until later. Practice ice is a ~15min time slot for the skaters to see how the ice feels and run through their program. Only a small number of skaters are allowed on the ice at time for this, and you'll reserve your skaters specific time slot once the competition schedule is released... about 10-14 days before the competition.
One thing that you can sign up for is the Basic Skills Series (http://www.pacificnwinterclub.com/basic-skills-series.html). This is intended for skaters who are in the Basic or FreeSkate levels. If the skater scores well on two qualifying competitions they'll get an invite to compete at PNIC against other skaters who did well in previous competitions. It's free to register so if you think you might go to multiple competitions it's probably worth signing up. Even without the invite you can still compete at PNIC, it's just a different group of skaters.
Once you've registered you'll want to see if there is a hotel the competition has a group rate at, or reserve your own room someplace else. I reserved a room for the entire competition time and then released the dates I didn't need once the detailed competition schedule became available. I only needed one night per competition, but depending on what time Rachel competed we maybe stayed the night before or after the competition.
One of the funnest parts of competing for the girls is picking and showing off their costumes. The costumes can be new or used. There are several Facebook groups related to buying used skating costumes that you can search through. My daughter got one of her dresses this way. There are also a lot of websites that sell new dresses. The below list shows a few. Coach Shannon said she ordered several of her dresses through Revella and they are good to work with. I ordered my daughter's from Light in the Box and Ebay. These were shipped from China, so it took 2-3 months to arrive but it was cheaper and it looked good to me. Most of the dresses that are bought new need to be ordered several months in advance since most are made to order.
Besides the dress the girls will also require skating tights. Having 2 pairs is optimal so if one tears you have a backup.
I also got a nude colored leotard for under the skating dress because of the way her dress was cut. I think it also helped smooth things out and made the dress look better. This is optional.
If you have a boy, they can use figure skating pants. These look like dress pants but are stretchy and may have a strap to secure the pant legs to the skates. For tops, they usually seem to have a dress shirt. They can get a fancier outfit if they'd like, but I don't know anything about that since my son doesn't want to compete. There is a facebook page for parents of boy figure skaters that could help.
Hair need to be pulled back off the face, but other than that there aren't requirements. Most girls have a bun, braid or ponytail.
Makeup should be used in moderation. Judges want to be able to see the skater's face.
These costs will vary based on your coach, so ask them what they charge!!!
The coach will split their travel, food, and hotel fees between each of their skaters that attends that competition, so the more skaters that go the less you pay for travel fees.
Each event your skater participates in is charged as a set fee. aprrox. $25-40 per event.
Practice Ice can be charged as a set fee or as a private lesson. approx. $25-45 per practice
NOTE: If more than one skater is in the same event or on the same practice ice, the fees are usually split between each skater.
For competition there are 2 tracks that can be used, Excel and Well-balanced/Competitive. The Excel track has easier requirements and is judged using the 6.0 system. The well-balanced requirements are more difficult and use the IJS judging, which is what is used in the national competitions. If a skater wants to compete in districts/regionals, etc it would have to be the well-balanced track. It is up to the coaches/parents what track is used.
For more information, look through the files attached below.
The short answer is no. The test requirements are similar to the requirements for Excel, which means they are easier then if the skater is competing in the Wellbeing track.
For example, for pre-preliminary the wellbeing competition requires 2 axles in the program, whereas the Excel competition and Pre-Prelim freeskate test do not require the skater to land an axle.
The files available to download below show the requirements for Excel and Wellbeing competition choreography, as well as a bunch of other info related to figure skating.
For more info on testing go to https://wenatcheefsc.org/testing-1