What are the U.S. Figure Skating Championships?
Figure skating fans from across the country and around the world will descend upon Detroit this January to witness the brilliance, power and breathtaking beauty of a LIVE figure skating competition. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships is the perfect event for the figure skating fanatic and the casual skating fan to join together in celebrating this incredible sport and cheering on Team USA figure skaters.
The U.S. Championships, held since 1914, is the nation’s most prestigious figure skating event in the United Sates. U.S. champions will be crowned in ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dance at the senior, junior, novice, intermediate and juvenile levels of the U.S. Figure Skating competitive structure. The event serves as the final qualifying event to make the U.S. World Figure Skating Team every year and the U.S. Olympic Team every four years.
Past champions include 2018 Olympians Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani and Mirai Nagasu and skating legends Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton.
Learn about the Figure Skating Disciplines at the Event
If you’ve never been to a skating competition before, you may be looking for some guidance on what events to watch. Skate America is an Olympic style competition that showcases four disciplines of skating including, ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dance. Read below to learn more about what to expect when you arrive at Skate America!
Ladies and Men’s Singles
Form, style, technique, concentration and the ability to perform under pressure are the key requirements in ladies and men’s singles events. Competed over two separate evenings, the ladies and men’s singles events are comprised of two parts: the short program, which is skated first, and the free skate. Both programs display the elegance, athleticism and talent synonymous with the sport of figure skating.
The short program has seven required elements: three jumps (one in combination), three spins and one step sequence. While connecting steps will factor a skater’s components score, the competitors will attempt to maintain their composure as each jump and spin earns placements and points heading into the free skate competition.
The free skate will crown the coveted title of ladies or men’s champion. A well-balanced free skate sets a maximum number of a particular element; it does not set a minimum. If a skater performs more than the number of well-balanced program elements permitted, there are no deductions, but the skater will not receive credit for these additional elements. The skater should pay close attention to interesting transitions, connecting steps and movements.
The pairs event combines the athleticism of singles skating with the precision of ice dancing, mixed with the thrilling acrobatics of overhead lifts and throws. Each movement is performed in unison, demonstrating exact timing and line between partners.
The pairs competition also includes a short program and a free skate, each packed with difficult elements and artistry. Like the singles disciplines, the pairs short program consists of seven required elements, which include an overhead lift, side-by-side solo jumps done in unison, a throw jump, a twist lift, a spin, a step sequence and a death spiral.
The free skate consists of technical and artistic moves choreographed to best display the skaters’ individual strengths, skills and ability to perform as a team. Shadow skating (in which partners perform identical maneuvers some distance apart) and mirror skating (in which the pair’s moves are in opposite directions and mirror each other) are aspects of pairs skating. A champion will be crowned after the free skate competition.
If you like “Dancing with the Stars,” the ice dance event is for you. Unlike pairs skating, ice dance is based on different aspects of dance, including rhythm, interpretation of the music and precise steps. Its beauty lies in its limitless creativity, choreography and theatrical and innovative aspects.
The ice dance competition consists of two segments: Rhythm dance and free dance. The rhythm dance will feature performances to a required rhythm of latin american rhythyms, blues, swing or hip hop music. Each team will display a range of technical ability and sophisticated style as they set the pace for the final round of competition.
The free dance will close out the event to the music of each team’s choice. Innovative choreography will highlight each dramatic performance.
The Skating Spectacular will take place at the conclusion of the competition and feature the top four place winners in each of the events. Skaters will perform creative programs of their own choosing, free from the scrutiny of the judges, with show lighting and costumes. The exhibition is a fun and entertaining event for the whole family celebrating all the newly crowned medalists.
2019 Team USA Champions Series
The 2019 GEICO U.S. Figure Skating Championships is proud to kick off the 2019 Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity. The champions series showcases numerous Olympic sports throughout the season, highlighting the year-round quest of Team USA athletes to compete at the Olympic Games.
Athletes to Watch
The U.S. Championships features skaters from Juvenile through Senior levels of competitive skating. At the 2018 Prudential U.S Figure Skating Championships, the youngest competitor was just 8 years old! At the senior or Championship level, athletes compete for spots on Team USA to compete internationally for the United States. The figure skating Olympic team was nominated from the U.S. Championships and included the following Championship level skaters:
- Bradie Tennell, 2018 U.S. champion
- Mirai Nagasu, 2018 silver medalist
- Karen Chen, 2017 U.S. champion
- Nathan Chen, 2017 and 2018 18 U.S. champion
- Vincent Zhou, 2018 U.S. bronze medalist
- Alexa and Chris Knierim, 2016 and 2018 U.S. champions
Championship Ice Dance
- Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, 2018 U.S. champions
- Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 2015 U.S. champions