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Kansas City steps up for an exciting U.S. Championships

I don’t think it will be 32 years again be-

fore U.S. Figure Skating comes back to Kansas City for a major competition. As it did in 1985, Kansas City delivered an exciting U.S. Cham- pionships that had that big-time feel and the hospitality and warmth America’s Heartland is known for. From Nathan Chen’s historic performance

to the friendly confi nes of the Sprint Center to being able to walk across the street for a bite to eat in the Power & Light District, the 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships had it all. “Kansas City did a great job,” U.S. Figure

Skating President Samuel Auxier said. “Every- thing went seamlessly. Both arenas are beau- tiful, especially the Sprint Center. The hospi- tality was wonderful and the fans have been supportive, which is really important to us. I’m sure we’d think highly of coming back some- day.”

Chen’s incredible feat will forever be

linked to the Kansas City championships. He landed two quadruple jumps in his short pro- gram and a record fi ve in his free skate. The 17-year-old shattered every U.S. qualifying scoring record, posting an overall mark of 318.47 points, 43 more than the standard set by Jason Brown in 2015. It was cool to see some of the sport’s

most veteran reporters, such as Phil Hersh and Christine Brennan, take in this historic mo- ment after all they’ve seen in this sport over the last three-plus decades. “At some point, as my jaw dropped to the

fl oor, I found myself chuckling at just how eas- ily he was doing what would be considered incredible by any standard of any sport you choose,” Hersh wrote of Chen’s free skate in one of his icenetwork articles. Kim Heim, the referee of the champion-

ship men’s event, called it “an honor” to be a member of the panel of such a historic event. “Having attended practices all week as

the event referee, I had a front row seat to Na- than Chen’s amazing and consistent arsenal of quad jumps being completed at the practices,” Heim said. It was also awesome to witness the hap-

piness and pride of the event’s two cochairs, Ryan Bradley and John Coughlin. Watching their hometown step up and deliver an out- standing event is all they could have asked for. “I always knew what Kansas City is and the

culture and support for sports that was here,” Coughlin said. “But to have people coming up to me and telling me what a great event it is, means a lot. From the way the local organizing

4 MARCH 2017

committee ran it to what’s available for enter- tainment when the action of skating was on pause was really special. “Audiences were really strong and sup-

portive. I spoke to a spectator who said they appreciated that the fans cheered from the fi rst skater all the way to the stars in the last warm-up. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of that I heard all week, is the kindness and hearts of the people here in Kansas City.” Kansas City’s warm reception for the

event wasn’t lost on the athletes, who enjoyed regular rousing applause and the opportunity to meet their adoring fans during autograph sessions on the concourse. “I think the crowd was phenomenal,” pairs

pewter medalist Nathan Bartholomay (with Deanna Stellato) said. “Hopefully we can come back to Kansas City, because that was fantastic and fun.” “I actually love the people here,” Stellato

said. “Everywhere we go, they ask, ‘Are you skaters?’ I’d say yes. I really feel the city is be- hind this competition. It feels they are indi- vidually behind me, too. So I really like Kansas City.”

For me and the rest of the media, the

Sprint Center off ered the perfect setup. We were able cover each skater at nearly ice level from the media seating that was positioned at the end of one side of the arena. The inter- viewing area for the athletes was within a few feet of the media seating, which allowed the media to get their information and hit their deadlines. “Best ever” was what I heard from many in

the media in terms of their accommodations. When there was a break in the action, it

was so nice to be able to walk across the street and get something to eat at any one of the dozens of restaurants in the Power & Light Dis- trict. I hit the Whopper Bar twice (Burger King). The only hiccup of the entire week oc-

curred just into the start of the juvenile and intermediate events at the Silverstein Arena in Independence, Missouri, when the local weather forecast called for an ice apocalypse that was going to paralyze Kansas City. Fortu- nately, it never materialized. “We had put a Plan B in action to house some of our offi cials in Independence for the night, and the NFL even moved the Steelers– Chiefs game back seven hours on Sunday,” Heim said. Without a doubt, Kansas City certainly met — and then exceeded — its reputation as one of the country’s best sports cities.




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