January 15, 2016 marked the opening of the United States Figure Skating Championships at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Nearly 400 figure skaters are competing at the juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior and senior levels for 20 U.S. titles in ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dance.
According to the official website of the event:
This year, the U.S. Championships serve as the final qualifying competition before U.S. Figure Skating names the 2016 U.S. World Figure Skating Team, World Junior Team and Four Continents Team.
Our skaters won’t have to travel far for World’s this year. It is being held in Boston, MA. from March 28th through April 3rd.
I am an avid figure skating fan and have enjoyed watching the event on my computer at icenetwork.com This site is providing live and on-demand coverage from St Paul. I love watching the juvenile and intermediate skaters. For most of them, this is their first Nationals and I am always amazed at how well they perform. I am glued to the site now that the senior competition started on Thursday.
As I watch, I can’t help but think about Clay Aiken and his escapades on the ice.
The first time I heard about Clay on the ice was on December 21, 2003. Called Skate With Clay, the Bubel/Aiken Foundation and the Carolina Hurricanes sponsored a great afternoon of skating. Clay spent the afternoon at the RBC Center, ice-skating with 100 children from the local area. The purpose of the event was to mingle children with and without special needs together. It gave them the opportunity to learn from each other and make new friends.
According to Dawn Graham, a volunteer from the foundation:
“Clay spoke and skated with each of the children, asking their names, where they went to school, etc. He looked to have as much fun as they did! They were each outfitted with a specially made Bubel/Aiken Foundation jersey, and Clay was sporting a ‘Canes jersey with ‘Aiken 03’ on the back. Some of the children were not physically able to skate, so some of them were pushed across the ice on metal chairs…”
The next evening, Clay performed at the Carolina Hurricanes/Dallas Stars Hockey game. After singing the Star Spangled Banner, Clay entertained the crowd with a short concert. The highlight of the evening occurred during the first intermission. Seemingly without any concern, Clay took to the ice and sang “I Will Carry You” as he skated around the arena. Besides sounding wonderful, Clay skated with confidence and got a huge round of applause.
Clay made a quick appearance on ice at Rockefeller Center. When he was in town for the Christmas Tree Lighting, Clay tried to get in a short skate. He probably hoped he wouldn’t get caught, but……he did and we got some cute pictures!
The next time we saw Clay on the ice was in Las Vegas on November 6, 2007. Clay was tapped to be the exclusive musical guest on “Capital One Holiday Celebration on Ice.” Clay was joined by many World and National champions as they celebrated the holiday season.
The program was broadcast on TV on Christmas Day. At that time, the audience got to see some back stage film of Clay getting a skating lesson from Olympian Sasha Cohen. The program ended with Clay joining the skaters as they took their bows by skating around the arena. It looked like Clay was having a great time.
Clay sang the National Anthem at the NHL All Star Game on January 30, 2011. The game was held in Raleigh, NC.
I wonder if Clay has been skating recently. He looked so at ease on the ice and seemed to have a good time.
I hope you will all take the time to watch this touching video. It is beautiful!
Are you watching the US Figure Skating Nationals??
Did you see any of the skating events that included Clay?