Have you heard about the hundreds of young athletes that are in San Jose, California this week?
U.S. Figure Skating’s biggest stars are in San Jose, California, this week for nationals, the last qualifying event before the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
About 400 of the top athletes in the United States are in San Jose to compete for U.S. titles from December 29, 2017 to January 7, 2018. The U.S. Championships features competition in five levels (juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior and senior) and in all four disciplines of the sport: Men, Ladies, Pairs and Ice Dance.
According to the official website of the event:
The 2018 U.S. Championships will serve as the final qualifying event prior to selecting and announcing the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team that will represent Team USA at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The Championships also serves as the final qualifying competition to name the U.S. World Figure Skating Team, World Junior Figure Skating Team, Four Continents Figure Skating Team and the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy in March, 2018.
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 San Jose. 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. The senior events are being shown on NBC and NBCSN.
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?