“Stumbling to Lake Placid” was article title in the January 28, 1980, issue of Sports Illustrated that recapped the week-long 1980 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the first U.S. Championship held in the South and was the send-off for those who would earn a spot on the U.S. team to compete in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. For their article title, Sports Illustrated focused on the stumbles and errors made by top competitors in their quest to make it to Lake Placid. Linda Fratianne, Lisa-Marie Allen, and Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner (among others) all had sub-par performances at that championship.
Over the years, collectors have disagreed whether the pin produced for the 1980 U.S. Championships is sub-par (mainly from a design standpoint). Some say yes and have great disdain the pin; others say no and count it among their favorites. Whatever side a collector takes, one thing is clear. The 1980 pin is unlike any U.S. Championships pin that came before it: modern, colorful, and memorable—for whatever the reason.
One thing is clear … the 1980 pin is unlike any U.S. Championships pin that came before it.
Like other pins issued to commemorate a figure skating event, the 1980 U.S. Championships pin features a central figure in a classic skating pose. On a teal background with red flames rising perilously close beneath, the stylized figure is executing a split jump. The flames suggest the warm weather of the Southern location while creating visual appeal. No figure skating pin issued for a major championship before the Atlanta pin had featured flames. In 1980, the flames also could have hinted at the city’s colloquial nickname, “Hotlanta,” a once-popular moniker that today is eschewed by Atlanta and its residents.
The 7/8″ diameter (2.2 cm) pin, designed on a shiny gold base metal, features the event name, location, and year around the circumference: “United States Figure Skating Championships” around the upper portion and “Atlanta 1980” around the lower portion. The pin looks and feels like 1980, the beginning of the “Decade of Excess.”
Enjoy Stumbling to Lake Placid. 1980.