Figure skating competition draws thousands to NC
Posted January 30, 2011 6:43 p.m. EST
Updated January 30, 2011 10:56 p.m. EST
Greensboro, N.C. — The U.S. Figure Skating Championships drew hundreds of skaters and thousands of fans from across the nation to the Greensboro Coliseum Complex for a week of ice, lights and sparkle.
Rachael Wall, 9, has been skating for five years. She traveled all the way from Chicago with her mother, Susan, to catch all the action at the championships.
"We've seen the ladies, the senior ladies, the senior dance, the senior pairs, the senior men and some juniors," Rachael Wall said.
Her mother said the trip was well worth it.
"It's very exciting and she's so enthusiastic. A lot of the time we are here at 9 in the morning and are here until 11 o'clock at night because she wants to stay and watch. She really enjoys it," said Susan Wall.
Another mother-daughter pair from Hickory came to Sunday's events to watch the sport they've seen so many times on television.
"It's kind of surreal. You watch them on TV and hear the commentators, but you don't get to see them up close," said Chrys Tuttle, who gave her daughter Mikayla tickets to the championships for Christmas. "(We can) see their faces up close and hear their skates on the ice. It's a really cool experience."
Sunday was the final day of competition, with the Championship Mens Free Skate in the afternoon and the U.S. Champions Skating Spectacular at 7 p.m.
Evan Lysacek, 2010 Olympic gold medalist, is one of the all stars performing in the skating spectacular.
Johnny Weir, a three-time men's gold medalist at the competition, also dropped by the Coliseum Sunday to receive a special award, the 2010 Readers' Choice Award for Skater of the Year. Weir just released a memoir, has a hit single in Japan, is filming the second season of his reality show and is launching a clothing line.
He said this is the first time in 13 years that he hasn't competed at nationals.
"It's very strange to come back and not be competing," Weir said. "I'm used to being filled with such adrenaline, angst and aggression, and competition this time of year every year. So, it's strange. It's not so comfortable to sit and watch it. I want to be in there competing with these people."
Weir said he would compete again at the national competition, but he has not decided when he'll make his comeback to the sport.