More than 60,000 people saw the power, grace and athleticism of figure skating in Columbus last week.
The Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships is projected to have created $8 million in direct visitor spend for Columbus. The community value extends further than that.
Columbus put sold out crowds on national television, and will again on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. It filled the Columbus Metropolitan Library on back-to-back mornings with author talks from U.S. Olympians Gracie Gold and Nancy Kerrigan. It hosted free learn-to-skate events and a DEI panel at The Lincoln Theatre with leaders devoted to making figure skating a more diverse, accessible sport. It merged artistry with athleticism through collaborations with the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and many more.
Like Ilia Malinin landing a quad axel (seriously), Columbus hosting the U.S. Figure Skating Championships was a result of hard work and perseverance. This was 26 years in the making.
COLUMBUS’ PATH TO THE PODIUM
1998 – Linda Logan travels to Colorado Springs for first meeting with U.S. Figure Skating
2001 – Columbus submits its first bid to host a U.S. Figure Skating event. Over the next 20 years, the city pursued events including the National Collegiate Championships, Skate America and the Synchronized Skating Championships
2005 – Columbus hosts 400 members of U.S. Figure Skating for their annual Governing Council Meeting
2016 – The U.S. Figure Skating Governing Council Meeting returns to Columbus
2019 – Columbus officials attend 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit
2022 – Columbus submits bid to host U.S. Figure Skating Championships
2024 – Columbus hosts the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships
COLUMBUS IS CLOSE
Columbus’ location within a one-day’s drive or one-hour’s flight of half the U.S. population made it a prime spot to host the Championships. More than 200 U.S. Figure Skating clubs are in Ohio and neighboring states.
The crowd was loud and engaged as top American skaters competed over six days at Nationwide Arena. Before and after the events, Columbus’ footprint made it easy for visitors to Experience Columbus – from the Arena District to the Short North. Local hoteliers ensured guests felt welcome and had options for how to spend their time away from the rink.
COLUMBUS IS COLLABORATIVE
Members of the Skating Club of Central Ohio and Columbus Figure Skating Club handled outreach to the local skating community, while officials, judges, coaches and skaters served on a club committee that helped promote the event through rinks throughout Ohio and the surrounding states. Hundreds of volunteers ensured the event was a success.
Overnight visitors met Midwestern hospitality at hotels and restaurants within walking distance of Nationwide Arena. Four-time World Champion Brian Boitano made celebrity bartending appearances at The Guild House and Lincoln Social, while Olympians Gracie Gold and Nancy Kerrigan did author talks and book signings at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Celebrity appearances helped, too. Boitano and Olympian Jason Brown visited Columbus for a media tour and learn-to-skate events over the summer. Olympian Timothy LeDuc roller skated through Stonewall Columbus Pride to promote the event with local skaters and community supporters. There was no shortage of talent.
The list of local collaborations goes on – click to see the full list.
COLUMBUS IS CUSTOM
Columbus was the first city to roll out the red carpet for the 2018 Women’s Final Four. It was the first city to put graphics on team buses for the 2021 NCAA DI Women’ Volleyball Championship. The 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships was another another custom job.
The Columbus Fashion Alliance designed scarves for skaters who finished on the podium. Local designer and Columbus College of Art & Design Austin Tootle traded made an ice rink his runway, designing 2023 U.S. Champion Isabeau Levito’s costume for the Prevagen Sunday Spectacular.
Local supporters and organizers enjoyed relief prints created by a local trio at the Phoenix Rising Printmaking Cooperative. Many enjoyed tasty treats and cocktails curated by Boitano and executed by Cameron Mitchell Premier Events.
The end of the week was a chef’s kiss. Brown spun to the boards, stopped on a dime and extended his arms in tribute to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, who helped him live a childhood dream of performing to live orchestra. They extended their bows back at him.
Everybody is pointing the fingers at each other. Together, Columbus delivered again.
IN OTHER WORDS...
"A huge sporting event comes to town, happens to be figure skating, happens to be an Olympic sport ... and Columbus does what Columbus always does." - Christine Brennan, USA Today
“I loved the crowd today. It was so full of all these enthusiastic people, and I really feel like they were all cheering us on. It was such a community” - 2023 U.S. Champion, Isabeau Levito
"It was just really special and the Columbus Sports Commission did such an incredible job putting on this event from start to finish. Every single person that I talked to was talking about how special Columbus was, not just the place but also just how incredibly well run this event was." - U.S Olympian Jason Brown