Twenty or so young skaters glided on the ice and took positions in front of the podium to set the stage for Kansas City’s latest sports triumph.
“On behalf of U.S. Figure Skating, I’m so happy to announce that my hometown, Kansas City, will host the 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships,” said John Coughlin, a former champion.
Figure skating’s national championships for women, men, pairs and ice dance at the senior, junior, novice, intermediate and juvenile levels will be contested at Sprint Center and the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence Jan. 14-22, 2017.
Kansas City has bid for the event several times since last hosting it in 1985 at Kemper Arena. This time, the region landed the event because of its facilities and through the work of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC, the city’s tourism and convention bureau, according to Bob Dunlop, senior director of events for U.S. Figure Skating.
“It’s a large event and has gotten bigger in the last few years,” Dunlop said. “We know what the event needs and what we can do, but we need people locally to pull that off.”
The championships will be one of the largest national sports events in the city’s history. The event annually attracts 1,700 athletes, coaches, officials and media, and the economic impact is estimated at $18 million.
Kansas City outbid other cities for the championships, but Dunlop didn’t cite the other bidders. In June, Dunlop joined two others from the national organization to tour the city and facilities.
A second arena is needed for the event, and in previous years, Kansas City offered Kemper Arena as a companion to Sprint. But the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, home of the Missouri Mavericks minor-league hockey team, better fills the bill.
The juvenile, intermediate and novice events will take place in Independence.
“It’s a younger competitive group, the future generations of the sport,” Dunlop said. “So the Independence arena provides a great backdrop for that younger competitor.”
Coughlin and Ryan Bradley of St. Joseph will serve as honorary co-chairmen for the championships. Coughlin is a two-time U.S. pairs champion, winning in 2011 with Caitlin Yankowskas and in 2012 with Caydee Denney.
Coughlin continues to skate with Denney in shows, while also coaching and serving as a commentator.
Bradley was the 2011 U.S. men’s champion and, like Coughlin, coaches, skates and works in the media.
The U.S. Championships have been held annually since 1914, and in the only other appearance in Kansas City, Brian Boitano won the first of four straight championships. Tiffany Chin was the women’s champion.
Tickets for the 2017 Championships will go on sale Jan. 19, 2016, and a website has been established for the event, www.2017uschampionships.com.
The 2016 U.S. championships are next month in St. Paul, Minn.