What happens at a kids ice skating competition?

Mostly, there's a lot of figure skating.

The kids are broken up into flights (smaller groups) of skaters in each category. So, if there are 100 kids competing in the Preliminary Level Girls FreeSkate, you'd typically see 10 flights of 10 kids. Each flight gets their own warm-up time of about 5 minutes and if the flights are larger, sometimes they'll have two warm-up periods for each flight.

Typically, for a STARSkate competition, medals are awarded for the top 3 finishes in each flight, so your kid is really only competing against the kids in their flight. This improves their odds of winning dramatically. If the competition is a championship, then the top 2 or 3 winners from each flight go on to semi-finals and then the winners from those semi-finals go onto a final. In a championship, a skater will have skated 2 or three times and will have to have a top 2 or 3 finish each time to come out a winner.

So, your kid goes off with their coach and eventually their time comes to do their warm-up. After the warm-up they all clear the ice and when it is each skater's turn the skater's name is announced and the skater skates onto the ice and takes their starting position. Their music is played. They skate through their program to a spectacular finish with wild applause from the audience. They skate off the ice and now you get to wait for the results. If you're skating at the STARSkate level, it's not like the olypics where they post the results for everyone to see immediately after the skater finishes. You won't see the results until all the skaters in your flight have skated. Then you can expect an interminable wait for the final results to be posted. It's not unusual to have to wait 30 - 90 minutes before the results are posted. Once the results are posted, if your child has managed a top 3 finish, there will be an award ceremony where they'll hand out the medals or ribbons.

A lot of competitions expect skaters to stay in full skating attire including skates although this gets to be a bit of a problem when there's a long wait for the results to be posted.

Most competitions provide a video and photography service that records your child's performance for posterity. You're looking at around $50 for each but you'll get professional quality results and it allows you to sit back and enjoy your child's performance at the time and not be fidgeting with a camera.

Now, apart from sticking around to watch other friend's skate (always a good idea for club solidarity building), you're free to go and return to your non-skating life.