The 1977 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut, is memorable not only for some great skating in a post-Olympic year but for the night the lights went out. During the ladies championship event, a sudden power failure knocked out the mercury vapor lights and plunged much of the arena into semi-darkness. Linda Fratianne, on her way to winning the first of her four U.S. titles, was unfazed by the incident and finished the final seconds of her free program under the low-light setting. Those who skated after her did the same.
The 1977 U.S. Championship is less memorable for its large, button-style pin that, if nothing else, is a window into the design look and feel of the late 1970s. Collectors generally have not liked this pin. The unusual color palette of brown, blue, and green helps to set the Hartford pin apart from other event pins in at least a different and interesting way. A silhouette of a female skater executing a classic layback spin is replicated in a strobe-like effect and dominates the 1-3/4″ diameter (4.4 cm) pin, likely the largest pin issued to commemorate a U.S. Championship. Around the circumference of the pin is the event name, year, and location: “U.S. National Figure Skating Championships 1977 Hartford.”
The unusual color palette of brown, blue, and green helps to set the Hartford pin apart from other event pins…
It is unusual today to see this pin without heavy yellowing beneath the epoxy dome. That issue doesn’t detract from the pin but speaks loudly to the era and production method used, along with its age. Some 43 years have now passed since the event, making all those 16-year-old to 20-year-old senior-level skaters somewhere their 60s now! Time marches on.
Four years later, Hartford would welcome skaters from around the globe to the 1981 World Figure Skating Championships, also held at the Hartford Civic Center. Look for pins from the 1981 Worlds in a future blog post.
Enjoy The Night the Lights Went Out. 1977.