For a few skaters, the road to the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships will begin at the Independence Events Center.
The IEC was named last month as one of the nine sites for regional qualifying contests to be held in the fall of 2015. Independence will host the Southwestern Regional competition Oct. 3-6. The Heartland Figure Skating Club and Kansas City Figure Skating Club will be co-local host clubs.
Sarah Miskew, spokesperson for the IEC, said it took a collaborative effort to land the U.S. regionals.
“We worked with the Independence Tourism Department, looking for events that would have a community significance and can bring in visitors,” she said. “This is a year that the resident figure skating clubs felt their programs and membership were strong.
“It’s just after an Olympic year, and I think everyone felt like 2015 was our year.”
“This is a very exciting sporting event for our region,” Cori Day, Director of Tourism for Independence, said in a press release. “The popularity of figure skating has surged in recent years, and we are honored to invite skaters, families and fans from a nine-state region to participate and visit.”
Miskew said the bid process in February was online and involved plenty of questions and paperwork and putting together “a nice presentation to show off the city and facility and all the amenities.”
“There’s a lot that goes into hosting one of these events,” she said. “There’s making sure the ice surfaces (the IEC also has the adjacent Centerpoint Community Ice Rink) and building are set up to specifications, coordinating hotel rooms, transportation. The skating clubs will be promoting this to their memberships so they can have a strong representation.”
Karen Juliana, HFSC president and co-chair of the regional competition, said in a press release that landing the event is a “thrill for the local skating community.”
“Having this event in Independence enables our local skaters to compete on a much bigger scale than usual. Everyone is very excited.”
The two local clubs are hosting a launch party for both members and learn-to-skate skaters 4-5:30 p.m. Friday at the IEC’s Community Ice Rink. John Coughlin, a Kansas City native, two-time national pairs champion and member of the KCFSC, is scheduled to attend.
“It’s a chance to catch our breath and celebrate that the championship is coming here,” Miskew said.
Other regional host cities will be Lake Placid, N.Y.; San Jose and Pasadena, Calif.; Aston, Pa.; Seattle, Pleasant Prairie, Wis.; Boxborough, Mass.; and Fort Wayne, Ind.
The four skaters in the ladies and men’s events at each regional championship will qualify to the sectional championships at either Simsbury, Conn.; Cleveland or Los Angeles. The top four from there (pairs and ice dance only advance from sectionals) will advance to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 16-24, 2016, in Saint Paul, Minn.