U.S. Adult Championships Kick Off in Bensenville
Photo by Nate Caulford
(4/10/07) - The 13th U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships kick off Wednesday, April 11, in Bensenville, Ill. Held annually since 1995, the U.S. Adult Championships are the most prestigious adult figure skating event in the United States. Sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating, this year's event is hosted by the Skating Council of Illinois and will be held at Edge Ice Arenas, 15 miles northwest of Chicago.
The U.S. Adult Championships debuted in 1995 to offer an opportunity for all ages and levels of skaters to compete at the highest level among their peers. The organizers of the 1995 event in Wilmington, Del., expected 100 competitors, but 421 signed up and competed in 626 starts (competitors often take part in more than one event). This year more than 550 athletes are set to compete in approximately 800 starts.
The prestigious championship masters and championship gold events are the highlight of the week. New this year is a championship pairs competition. Skaters in these events qualify for the U.S. Adult Championships by placing in the top four at their respective sectional championships.
At the 2006 event in Dallas, Texas, Natalie Shaby (All Year FSC) won the championship masters ladies event at age 42 in her first year competing at the event. She landed five double jumps, including a double Axel, to narrowly beat out silver medalist Alexandra Dunne-Bryant (Chiller FSC), who was 24 at the time and landed six double jumps. Shaby coaches in the Los Angeles area and attends the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studies environmental issues.
In championship masters men, 25-year-old Brooks Jones (DuPage FSC) captured the gold after landing nine double jumps. He is a chemistry graduate student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. In second place at the event was 40-year-old Joseph Radomile (St. Moritz ISC), who won the event in 2005. These top two ladies and men will be back to contend for the titles this week in Bensenville. Overall, athletes will compete in approximately 90 different events. Also back to compete is Larry Holliday of the Windy City FSC, who landed the first-ever triple jump at the U.S. Adult Championships a few years ago.
Competitors range in age from 21 to those in their 60s and 70s. Nearly all of them hold full-time jobs; some skated as children, but many will compete for the first time.