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Kent's ShoWare Center snags international figure skating competition

Kent
Kent's ShoWare Center will host the 2012 Skate America international figure skating competition Oct. 19-21.
— image credit: COURTESY GRAPHIC

Kent will host the 2012 Skate America international competition that will feature 52 world-class figure skaters in men's, ladies, pairs and ice dancing.

U.S. Figure Skating selected Kent to host the Olympic-style competition Oct. 19-21 at the ShoWare Center. The event will draw visitors from around the world to the city-owned arena that opened in 2009.

“We look forward to returning to the state of Washington for Skate America,” said David Raith, executive director for U.S. Figure Skating in a press release. “Washington is home to some of the best and most supportive figure skating fans in the country and we look forward to showcasing this event to the Seattle area.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke helped make the official announcement Friday morning at a media conference at the ShoWare Center.

Gov. Chris Gregoire had been scheduled to appear at the media conference but had to cancel at the last minute. Gregoire issued the following statement.

“We are excited to again welcome the international figure skating community and its fans to the state of Washington for 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America,” Gregoire said. “In recent years, Washington has hosted record-setting crowds in Spokane and in Everett. The anticipated economic impact and international television exposure the event will bring to Kent and the greater Seattle area is exciting.”

Skate America is part of the International Skating Union's Grand Prix Series, now in its 18th season, that consists of six international events.

Other stops on the 2012 Grand Prix Series include Skate Canada (Windsor, Ontario), Cup of China (Shanghai), Trophée Eric Bompard (Paris), Rostelecom Cup (Moscow) and NHK Trophy (Sendai, Japan). Skaters earn points throughout the Series to qualify for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final each December. The 2012 Grand Prix Final will be Dec. 6-9 in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Skaters are eligible to compete in two of the six events to earn points to advance to the Grand Prix Final. Skaters will compete for more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series.

Athletes invited to compete in Skate America will be announced May 21.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, May 5 and will be sold in packages for all five events that include:

Pairs short and men's short at 7 p.m. Oct. 19; ladies short and short dance at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 20; men's free and pairs free at 7 p.m. Oct. 20; free dance and ladies free at 11:45 a.m. Oct. 21 and a skating spectacular exhibition at 6 p.m. Oct. 21.

Prices are $350 for the VIP tickets, seating in rows 1-2 plus drink, food perks; $125 for Gold tickets, seating in rows 3-17 on sides of arena; and $75 for Silver tickets, seating in rows 3-17 in end zone areas. Single-session tickets go on sale in September.

Ben Agosto, a 2006 Olympic silver medalist in ice dancing with partner Tanith Belbin, will serve as the event's honorary chairman. Agosto now lives in Lacey and teaches figure skating. He retired from competitive skating after the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Agosto also attended Friday's media conference to announce Kent as the host city.

The ShoWare Center will have a capacity of 3,940 for the competition, with many of the 6,000 seats taken up for production purposes. NBC Sports will broadcast coverage on Oct. 21.

More than 70 television, print and radio journalists from around the world are expected to cover Skate America. The event attracts reporters from Russia, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany and other countries with skaters in the competition.

Everett hosted Skate America in 2008 and drew a record 29,477 fans to the three-day event, according to U.S. Figure Skating. Portland, Ore., (2010) and Spokane (2002) also have hosted the event. Ontario, Calif. hosted last year's competition.

Michelle Kwan, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Kristi Yamaguchi are among the previous title winners at Skate America, which started in 1979 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

For tickets and more information, go to www.2012skateamerica.com.

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