Road to Atlanta Starts This Week!

Amber Corwin
Photo by Michelle Harvath

Qualifying events for the 2004 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 3-11, get underway this week beginning with the first two regional competitions. The 2003 Central Pacific Regional Championships will be held in Vacaville, Calif., Oct. 7-12, and the 2003 Southwest Pacific Regional Championships will take place in Anaheim, Calif., at the same time.
U.S. Figure Skating received a total of 2,850 entries for the nine regional competitions. The ladies discipline attracted the most interest with a total of 2,165 athletes submitting entries.

The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held since 1914, is the nation's most prestigious figure skating event. The competition crowns a total of 12 "national champions" in ladies and men's singles, pairs and ice dancing in each of the championship (senior), junior and novice divisions. In addition, the U.S. Championships serve to select the 2004 U.S. World Team, 2004 U.S. World Junior Team and the athletes who will compete at the 2004 Four Continents Championships.

To qualify for the U.S. Championships, skaters must first compete in their respective regional competitions. The top four places in each discipline from the regional competitions will move on to compete at one of three sectionals: Pacific Coast Sectional Championships, Eastern Sectional Championships or Midwestern Sectional Championships. After the sectionals, only the top four skaters from each of the three events will advance to the U.S. Championships.

Skaters may also qualify to compete at the U.S. Championships by receiving a "bye." A bye may be earned either by placing in the top six at the U.S. Championships during the previous year, or by competing at an international competition that coincides with the sectional championship.

Top athletes receiving a bye and anticipated to compete at the U.S. Championships include: five-time World and seven-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan (Manhattan Beach, Calif.); 2003 Grand Prix Final champion Sasha Cohen (Laguna Niguel, Calif.); 2003 U.S. champion Michael Weiss (Fairfax, Va.); 2003 silver medalist at both the World and U.S. Championships Timothy Goebel (Rolling Meadows, Ill.); and 2003 U.S. pairs champions Tiffany Scott (Hanson, Mass.) and Philip Dulebohn (Germantown, Md.).

Skaters competing in the intermediate and juvenile events at regionals will advance to the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz., Dec. 2-6, 2003, by placing in the top four of their event at the competitions.

2004 U.S. Figure Skating Regional Competitions:
Central Pacific Regional Championships, Vacaville, Calif., Oct. 7-12
Southwest Pacific Regional Championships, Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 7-12
New England Regional Championships, South Dennis, Mass., Oct. 13-18
Eastern Great Lakes Regional Championships, Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 14-18
Upper Great Lakes Regional Championships, Bloomington, Minn., Oct. 14-18
Northwest Pacific Regional Championships, Kennewick, Wash., Oct. 13-19
South Atlantic Regional Championships, Laurel, Md., Oct. 13-18
North Atlantic Regional Championships, Jamestown, N.Y., Oct. 20-25
Southwestern Regional Championships, Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 21-25

2004 U.S. Figure Skating Sectional Competitions:
Pacific Coast Sectional Championships, Vancouver, Wash., Nov. 11-15
Eastern Sectional Championships, Lake Placid, N.Y., Nov. 11-15
Midwestern Sectional Championships, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 20-22

2004 U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships
Scottsdale, Ariz., Dec. 2-6, 2003

2004 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships
Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 3-11, 2004