At the recent ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Lake Placid, New York, some adult skaters came away with podium medals, but all the competitors came away with something more: baskets full of tossies, specially crafted by fellow competitors.
“Tossies are an integral part of adult skating competitions as a way for skaters to show support for their fellow competitors,” said Skating Club of Lake Placid president Christie Sausa. “Of course, artificial flowers and stuffed animals are thrown on the ice for all skating competitions, but the adult skaters seem to have taken it to the next level.”
Sausa, who also competed in the competition and served as volunteer coordinator, came up with the unique idea of collecting tossies in baskets with Rhea Schwartz of the Adult ISU Figure Skating Group.
“The day before the start of the competition started, Rhea Schwartz and I were discussing the sweepers,” Sausa said, “and we decided that instead of having items thrown on the ice, which can be hazardous and overwhelming, it might make sense instead to have baskets brought through the crowd to receive tossies.”
The ISU Adult Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany, also uses the basket system. Once the tossies are collected, they go to the skater while they wait for their scores in the kiss and cry.
“Tossies are a BIG deal at adult competitions,” Schwartz said. “People sometimes spend all year making them between competitions. Some have become so prized that people actually contact the makers and ask for them.”
Sausa was most grateful for the outpouring of adult skaters and local Lake Placid skaters who happily jumped aboard to collect tossies.
“I have truly never seen such cooperation and willingness to volunteer as I saw at this competition,” Sausa said. “I think at the beginning it was a bit disarming for the volunteers to know what to do, but once they got the into the swing of it, they had a lot of fun.”
The only caveat is that skaters can get tired after collecting tossies for long periods, which is why having a good turnover of volunteers in this role is a good idea.
“What impressed me most is that when one of our scheduled volunteers needed a break or had to leave for the day, someone else from the audience took up the job and started bringing the baskets around without being asked,” Sausa said.
As for audience members, baskets provided a new and fun way to present their tossies.
“There was actually video on Instagram of the tossies being tossed into the waiting baskets handled by our volunteers,” Sausa said.
Sausa believes the tossie baskets could catch on.
“In large arenas it might be a little challenging. However, I do suggest clubs and rinks think of this system, especially for adult competitions. It’s much safer and more efficient.”
In the end, adult skaters were delighted to receive their goodies in this fashion.
“It feels so gratifying to get off the ice after having given it your all and getting an acknowledgment of your performance in the form of tossies,” Sausa said.
Lake Placid skater Anne Bennett was happy to volunteer as a tossie collector for the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Lake Placid in October. Photo by Joanne Jamrosz.