Live shows like Disney on Ice and Holiday on Ice may present fantastic skaters in a world of glitz, but what’s missing is the competition that makes figure skating such a popular sport in all the Winter Olympics.
You’ll have to wait until 2018 for the next Olympic round of skaters, but the greatest in America will be competing for more than a week in Greensboro, starting Saturday.
The Prudential 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships will be held through Jan. 25 at the Greensboro Coliseum and the coliseum complex’s special events center.
More than 35 events will be held – men’s, women’s and pairs’ competitions; novice, junior and senior divisions; free skate, short program, dance ... the works. Approximately 350 skaters are expected to compete in 21 sessions held over nine days. It culminates in the Skating Spectacular – a Jan. 25 showcase featuring event champions skating without the competitive pressure.
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Sweetening the pot for spectators is the FanFest, beginning Monday and running through Jan. 25 (from 9 or 10 a.m. until 6, 7 or 8 p.m., depending on the day). The FanFest, held adjacent to the coliseum’s practice and competition sites, features skating demonstrations, autograph and photo sessions, a mini-cinema showing skating movies, educational displays, educational displays of historic Zamboni ice-tending machines, a cafe and more.
You can buy per-day tickets or multiday packages. With Greensboro just a straight 90-minute shot up Interstate 85, your time there could easily be crunched to a day trip or two.
What days to go? It depends on your interests and budget (championships, held later in the run, are more expensive). Note: The opening ceremonies will be held several days into the event: 7 p.m. next Thursday.
The area favorites are Kay Bergdolt and Miles Addison, who are competing in junior pairs: the 6 p.m. session Tuesday (short) and 11 a.m. session next Thursday (free skate). She’s 18, he’s 20, and while they’re affiliated now with the Skate Club of Boston, where both of them now live and train, they are long-time skate partners from the Raleigh area.
The pair qualified for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships the last time they were held in Greensboro – 2011 – but after years of skating, the nationally ranked Addison’s interest was nonetheless drawn to high-school football. He hung up his skates to be a wide-receiver.
But after a three-year hiatus, Addison is again competing on the rink – and again skating with the partner he had when he was a 12-year-old.