Her elegant arms stretch gracefully above her head while her feet dance smoothly in precise timing with the music. In a seemingly effortless motion, she launches into the air and appears to defy gravity as her body twirls in mid-air; then she lands confidently and crouches into a yet another whirling spin close to the ice.
Figure skating is beautiful, yes, but what does watching it have to do with travel? Spectator sports are a passion for millions of people across the globe, and a wonderful excuse to travel! The figure skating season starts July 1 and goes until then end of June the next year, so the aficionado can find an exhibition or competition almost year-round. Fulfill your passion by attending a live event where you can see the amazing talent in person, hear the music fill the staduim and feel the drama of the moment, without commercial interruption!
The first big events of the season are the Fall Internationals and they kick off the competitions of the International Skating Union (ISU). The big six are Skate America, Skate Canada International, Trophée de Eric Bompard (France), NHK Trophy (Japan), Cup of Russia and Cup of China, collectively known as the Grand Prix of Figure Skating. They culminate in Finals in December where the top six contenders compete in ladies’ singles, men’s singles, pairs skating and ice dancing. In December 2010, the Finals were held in Beijing and the location of the next Finals competition has not yet been determined. Any one of the International competitions and especially the Finals are great reasons for the ice skating fan to dust off their passport and visit a new city. Enjoying the local culture, food and sights will add a whole new dimension to your hobby.
Dozens of countries across the globe hold National Championships. There is no set time for these, although they tend to be early in the calendar year. The 2010 – 2011 US Finals were just completed in Greensboro, North Carolina last weekend and will be in San Jose, California next January. The US event is held in a different city each year, alternating from coast to coast and mid-country, so you can plan to catch this best-of-the-best competition when it is close to home or make it the pinnacle event of a cross-country jaunt. Seeing the personalities of the athletes and sharing their triumph as they receive their awards on the podium is a great reason to leave your armchair and attend a competition.
The ISU Championships consist of five events each season:
- European Figure Skating Championships – The oldest ISU Championship event, held in January for member nations of the European Union. This year they were held in Bern, Switzerland and next year will be in Sheffield, UK.
- Four Continents Figure Skating Championships – Held in early February for skaters from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. In two weeks, it will take place in Taipei, Taiwan, then in 2012 its back to the US in Colorado Springs.
- World Figure Skating Championships – Never held before the fourth Monday in February for all ISU member nations. This is considered the most prestigious for the most elite teams from around the world. If you hurry, it’s not too late to go to this competition in Tokyo, Japan in late March or plan for Nice, France for 2012.
- World Junior Figure Skating Championships– Held in the first half of March for ladies aged 13- 19 and men aged 13 – 21. This year they will be held in Gangneung, Republic of Korea and Minsk, Belarus in 2012.
- World Synchronized Skating Championship- The final ISU event is for the most elite synchronized skating teams in the world. This year it will be in Helsinki, Finland and in Gothenburg, Sweden next year.
Because of the length of the season and the breadth of nations participating in figure skating competition, you can see how easy it is to justify your longing to visit almost any country with a trip to a skating event. It also makes a fabulous gift for a birthday, anniversary or special milestone. If you are excited about the possibility of seeing spectacular skating before the ice outside melts, let Covington make your arrangements now, or talk to us about planning for next season.
Spectator sports of all kinds are great reasons to travel. Watch for an upcoming post on Baseball Spring Training and let us know what sports give you a reason to travel.