NATIONAL SOLO DANCE SERIES (NSDS)
In 2011, U.S. Figure Skating introduced the National Solo Dance series (NSDS). This series allows ice dancers to compete alone, while still being able to ice dance rather than compete in freestyle. Although the series started out quite small, it has really grown in recent years and has attracted more and more attention.
There are three sub-disciplines that skaters can choose to compete in for the NSDS:
Solo combined: most closely mirrors the competition style of partnered ice dance, where skaters compete for both a compulsory or short dance and then a free dance.
Solo pattern: these events give skaters at each level the opportunity to compete for the compulsory dances at their level, without having to also create a free dance program. At each competition, two dances from each level are selected, which all skaters perform.
Shadow dance: involves two solo ice dancers to compete for a pattern dance side-by-side, tracking each other like a skater and his/her “shadow”. In this event, just one pattern dance is competed per event. Many solo ice dancers have grown to love this event, as it gives them the opportunity to compete and have fun with a fellow solo ice dancer.
Skaters are required to compete at various competitions within their section throughout the season, which begins in March and ends in August before the Final in early September. At each competition, points are awarded based on the skaters’ placements in their respective events. For events with more than three competitors, the winner receives nine points, the second-place skater receives eight, the third-place skater receives seven, and so on. If there are three or fewer skaters, the maximum number of points is seven and decreases from there according to placement. There is no limit to how many competitions an ice dancer can do, but at the end of the season, each skaters’ top three scores are summed. The skaters with the top six highest scores at each level for each sub-discipline are then invited to the final. Skaters who outright win at least three events, even if there are just two or three skaters, are also given an invitation. At the NSDS Final, the top-scoring solo ice dancers from around the country gather to compete at a national level event, where national champions are determined.