Skating and the Springs

History runs deep, and Colorado Springs continues to foster U.S. figure skating champions and Olympic contenders.

Figure skating and Colorado Springs go together like an ice rink and its Zamboni. As U.S. Figure Skating tells the story, 80 years ago, Norwegian skating star Sonja Henie charmed Broadmoor builder Spencer Penrose with her skill during an ice review in Chicago. Penrose returned home with a dream: to bring skating to his hotel and the Pikes Peak region.

On Jan. 1, 1938, that dream became reality when the first ice surface was laid in the new Broadmoor Ice Palace. As the largest enclosed ice arena west of the Mississippi, the facility offered year-round usage and by the following year, a home for the Pikes Peak Figure Skating Club, which became an official member of the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Married couple and 2018 U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim are the only U.S. couple to complete a quadruple twist. Photo courtesy of US Figure Skating.

During the years that followed, the PPFSC became the Broadmoor Skating Club, and the Ice Palace name changed to the Broadmoor World Arena following the tragic loss of the entire U.S. skating team in 1961. Eight of those killed in that plane crash were members of the Broadmoor Skating Club, including world-renowned coach Edi Scholdan. Healing and rebuilding took time, but the competitive level and community support stayed steady over the years.

us figure skating mirai nagasu
Mirai Nagasu. Courtesy of US Figure Skating.

Of just 14 U.S. Olympic figure skating gold medalists to date, three trained at the World Arena: brothers Hayes Alan Jenkins (1956) and David Jenkins (1960), and Peggy Fleming (1968). Today the Springs is home to U.S. Figure Skating and the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame. Many U.S. Olympic figure skating hopefuls live and train at the flagship U.S. Olympic Training Center as well. Colorado Springs is also the only city in the world to have hosted the World Championships five times.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics, Colorado Springs can root for locals Mirai Nagasu, Vincent Zhou, and pairs team Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim. Jason Brown and Max Aaron were named alternates.

The 25-year-old Aaron, moved here from Arizona during his senior year of high school and graduated magna cum laude in December from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. As the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating national champion and 2015 Skate America champion looks back, he says choosing the Springs was an easy decision.

“The atmosphere that was built at the World Arena Ice Hall at the time was tremendous,” Aaron says. “Going back, I had played hockey most of my life. I just needed that atmosphere that would make me rise to the occasion. And so coming here with so many top skaters at the time—I guess you could call me the bench warmer when I got here—it was a great challenge. I took it, and now I’m trying to make myself a captain here.”

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