Skate America – Grand Prix History
source:U.S. Figure Skating
Skate America is an Olympic-style international figure skating event featuring three days of competition in ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dancing. The event, which is one of six annual events in the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix Series, annually attracts approximately 60 world-class figure skaters. Past competitors include 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, five-time World and nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan, 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel, 2002 Olympic pairs champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada, 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi and 1984 Olympic champion Scott Hamilton.
2010 Skate America will be held at the Rose Garden Arena, home of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers and host to the 2005 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
The goal for the 1979 Norton Skate was simple: for Lake Placid to host a major competition in preparation for the 1980 Olympics. A few decades later, that small event has grown into a premier international competition that is part of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
The Olympic Regional Development Authority created the Norton Skate as part of the city’s Flaming Leaves Festival, which took place only four months before the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. The Flaming Leaves Festival unveiled the new Olympic Village and ice arena, and the Norton Skate competition was the festival’s highlight. The competition returned to the Olympic Arena again in 1981, when the event was named Skate America. From the beginning, Skate America was an invitational competition. Organizers invited top skaters from around the world to compete. This was significant because at the time, there were only a handful of international competitions in which skaters could compete.
In 1995 former U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director Jerry Lace and skating federation presidents from four participating countries – Canada, France, Germany and Japan – decided to make Skate America part of a “World Cup Championship-type” series. What became known as the Champions Series combined Skate America with four other international figure skating competitions as a unified, point-earning series. In 1996 Russia joined the five skating federations, adding the Cup of Russia to the Champions Series. The ISU recognized the six events and formed a commission to assign skaters to each event. In 1998 the Champions Series became the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series.
From 2001-05, the event was known as Smart Ones Skate America. A new sponsor was found in 2009, when it was known as Cancer.Net Skate America. Each year at the conclusion of the series, the athletes’ points are totaled. The top six point-earners in ladies, men, pairs and ice dance are invited to compete at the ISU Grand Prix Final. Traditionally, Skate America is the first competition of the series, which also includes Skate Canada, NHK Trophy, Cup of China, Trophee Eric Bompard and Rostelecom Cup (formerly Cup of Russia). In 2009, with the dates of the Grand Prix Series adjusted to accommodate the Olympic schedule, Skate America was the fifth event in the series. Skate America will be the fourth of the sixth events in the 2010 series.
The competition has made stops in 17 different cities, including multiple times in Lake Placid (three); Portland, Maine (twice); Colorado Springs (three); and Detroit (three). Many of the great names in figure skating have competed in Skate America, including Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Alexei Yagudin, Todd Eldredge, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.