Milwaukee will be in the winter sports spotlight this weekend as it hosts a major international figure skating competition.
Skate America is one part of the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix of Figure Skating. It opens this afternoon at the UWM Panther Arena and features 60 top skaters including American Olympians such as Gracie Gold and Jason Brown, along with Russian Julia Liptnitskaia and more.
This is the third year in a row that this event has been hosted in the Midwest due to logistics and support, but is a first for the City of Milwaukee.
"The audiences in the Midwest are always very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic and great support for our U.S. skaters in particular," says U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier.
U.S. Figure Skating, the governing body for figure skating in this country, is comprised of more than 175,000 members. However Auxier thinks that the perception of figure skating as a serious sport remains clouded by the general public.
"Skaters are very fast and the moves are very complex and the jumps are very difficult, it really is a tremendously athletic sport," he says. "But between the music and the costumes and the artistry, the athleticism often gets lost."
Auxier hopes this weekend will draw more spectators both loyal and new to the sport.