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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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April 20, 2008 11:00 AM

Updated: Spokane: In the 2010 Olympic spotlight?

Posted by Ron Judd

Does Spokane have an inside track to host the 2010 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships -- a mondo sports event that doubles as the Olympic Trials for the 2010 Vancouver Games?

A major voice in the figure skating world thinks it should. The Chicago Tribune's Philip Hersh, the dean of America's figure-skating journalists, already has put his vote in for the Lilac City in his "Globetrotting" blog. U.S. Figure Skating officials are just starting "site inspections" of potential host cities, Hersh writes, opining:

They are wasting time and money on a no-brainer:

The championships belong in Spokane. No need to visit anywhere else.

It is one of four undisclosed candidates for the event, and I have learned Providence, R.I. and Portland, Ore., also are apparently in the running.

(USFS chief executive David Raith did not answer messages seeking the identity of the mystery guest.)

Two years ago, Spokane put on the best U.S. Championships of the nearly two dozen I have attended -- including Portland (2005) and Providence (1995).

The city was more jazzed to be host than any other I have seen. There were even posters about the championships in bars too funky for even a thirsty sportswriter to patronize.

Spokane's attendance was 154,893. Portland's was 117,000. Providence drew 56,856.

This is what I wrote after the event in 2007:

"Take a city with good facilities, a highly competent organizing committee and no major league professional sports, and it doesn't matter how relatively small or isolated it is.

"Spokane's motto might as well be, 'Gateway to Idaho.' By 2005 estimates, it is the 99th largest city in the country, in the middle of the 108th largest metropolitan area.

"Yet it drew 25 percent more spectators for the skating nationals than any previous host, a group that includes much larger places such as Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas and Atlanta.''

It's a big endorsement from a big voice in the Olympics world. Knowing Hersh, we can attest that his motivation is simple: He loves the sport, and he -- and everyone else -- saw Spokane embrace it like few other cities in the country when it hosted the U.S. Championships in '07. We quote:

Figure skating needs a boost. The next two years are critical, with the 2009 worlds in Los Angeles and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver -- only 410 miles from Spokane, so you could see sellouts in Spokane as the road map to sellouts in Vancouver.

The folks leading Spokane's effort for the 2010 nationals say the interest for the second time around will be even greater.

No reason not to believe them, since they exceeded every expectation for 2007. They should nickname the place, Spo-can-do.

We add our voice to what should become a growing chorus to proclaim Spokane the obvious choice for the January, 2010 event. And if figure skating officials use Hersh's strong recommendation to get their compass pointed back to the center of the Inland Empire, we'll take only small credit for introducing him to some of the city's charms.

The selection of Spokane would vault Washington state, suddenly, to the epicenter of the U.S. figure-skating competitive world. Everett already has landed another major contest, the 2008 Skate America, coming in October to the Comcast Arena. (Sort of makes you wonder who's in charge of Seattle these days, doesn't it?)

Spokane's coronation, of course, is far from a done deal. The selection geniuses are the same people, Hersh notes, who awarded last year's Skate America competition to Reading, Pa., "one of the most lugubrious cities in the country."

But if you're trying to land a big-time event like the figs nationals, Hersh is a guy you want in your corner.

UPDATE: U.S. Figure Skating's Events Advisory Boad will recommend a host city for the Jan. 13-24, 2010 event on May 1. Contracts are scheduled to be in place by November 1.The U.S. Figure Skating Championships generate an economic impact estimated at $20 million.

Comments | Category: Figure skating , National Governing Bodies (NGBs) , Vancouver 2010 Games , Winter Games |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.