I’ve been a figure skating fan since I was 9 years old. I wanted to be a skater more than anything, but it took me a while to realize you could never become a skater if you didn’t, y’know. Take lessons. So I settled into my role as a fan pretty early.
In adulthood, though, I haven’t been able to keep up very well. Too busy. But a year ago, when I heard that the US Figure Skating Championships were coming to Kansas City, I put many notes on my calendar to check ticket prices. It paid off. I didn’t forget. This weekend, I took my other big figure skating fans–Julianna and Nicholas–for an adventure I’ve been waiting for decades to pursue.
We left early so we could meet up with my sister for pizza in downtown Kansas City.
Afterward, we made it to the Sprint Center, where we discovered the ice dancers Elicia & Stephen Reynolds, in their “Tron Legacy” costumes, signing autographs after their performance in an earlier group.
We made it to our seats and asked the people behind us to take a picture, but here we really confront for the first time (though not the last) the sad reality that we weren’t allowed to bring our DSLR (I can only guess why), and the only other camera I own is a 2002 Olympus model. So don’t get your hopes up for fabulous pictures, but still…here’s proof that we were there:
Pairs Gold medalists Denney & Frasier:
In the “kiss & cry,” which was sharply to the right and just below us. I couldn’t stop taking (bad) (blurry) (underexposed) pictures of all the cameras in people’s faces, waiting to see their reactions. Brutal, I’m telling you. But in this case, they’d just won, so not so brutal.
The coolest part, of course, is always the Zamboni. Or in this case, two of them. Nicholas wandered down to the very bottom step to watch them come out from directly below us.
Ice dance silver medalists Chock & Bates:
The siblings Shibutani skating to ice dancing gold:
…and approaching the podium afterward.
The hard-core fans had already left to get dinner in preparation for a marathon of men’s short programs, but we didn’t have tickets for that session, so we stole down to some abandoned seats in the the foot of the stands to get closer to the medal ceremony. Albeit from behind.
Ice Dance podium:
Pairs champions Denney & Frasier approaching the podium:
And all the pairs milling around and *not* leaving the ice afterward. The announcer had to jokingly scold them off the ice. It was pretty funny.
And really fun to be there in person.
Ice skating gets quite a rap for being an artsy, spangly, diva-esque sport, and somehow you’d think the fans would follow suit. Especially since so many of the attendees were clearly involved in skating or had one time been. But this was the coolest audience I’ve ever experienced. The culture is really supportive. The arena went completely silent at the beginning of every single skater’s routine, and when someone fell down (which was often) there were groans of sympathy, and the instant they got back on their feet and went on, there was warm applause. I got all choked up about it. And about being there.
It was especially fun to see the skaters in the warmup area and in the times when the cameras were not on them. You get accustomed to the screen being a barrier between people, and being there in person I was really reminded that we’re all just people.
So that was my Saturday, and one item crossed off the bucket list. (But I think a few more just got added because of it!)