Is this sport as whacked as I think it is?

Quite possibly, but if your daughter loves it, what are you gonna do. Politics. Pettiness. Jealousy. Cattyness. Unfair judging. Fashion obsession. Body image issues. Lots of stuff. Every sport has its baggage it seems and figure skating is no different.

That said, there are also a lot of really nice kids who skate and some really nice parents that go along with them. There's a pretty high correlation between the two I find. Some clubs have less pleasant cultures than others so you might want to shop around a bit. However, it's pretty hard to find out what the culture in a club is really like without joining and living in it for a year or two.

Our experience has been very positive. The kids are friendly and get along really well. I don't see a lot of attitude between the kids and they seem genuinely supportive of each other regardless of ability. I also see older kids encouraging younger kids and many of the older kids help out with the CanSkate sessions to help with getting the younger kids going. Every year our club holds a competition just for club members and there's always lots of support from the stands for every skater that steps onto the ice.

Ultimately, the kids have to compete against each other as they get to higher competitive levels but that's where a good club culture backed up by good parenting can really influence the atmosphere at the club.