February in Southern California, and particularly in San Diego, made for a very pleasant experience for those who attended the 1981 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Locations for the annual championship are typically in cold-weather climates that require warm clothing, gloves, and hats. When traveling to San Diego, however, attendees mostly could leave the winter garb at home and instead enjoy daily temperatures in the low 70s. An unusual climate for figure skating indeed, but once inside the San Diego Sports Arena, spectators were treated to a succession of outstanding skating performances in a post-Olympic year. Scott Hamilton, Elaine Zayak, Kitty and Peter Carruthers, and Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert took over as worthy United States champions.
The beautiful bell tower of the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá is featured as the central design element on the 1981 U.S. Championships event logo pin. On a gold-color base metal, the pin is filled with red, white, and blue enamels. Patriotic and fresh all in one clean design. Somewhat curiously, a skate blade is superimposed on the facade of the mission, creating an odd link between the national sports event and the centuries-old local landmark. Although it is questionable whether the marriage of the mission and skate blade is appropriate, the 1″ x 1-1/4″ (2.54 cm x 3.175 cm) pin is a unique souvenir of a memorable event. Blue and red banded areas along the right and bottom edges contain the event location, year, and name: “San Diego, 1981 Nationals.” The pin was highly sought after and difficult to obtain in the mid to late 1980s when figure skating pin collecting and trading was at its zenith.
The pin was … difficult to obtain in the mid to late 1980s when figure skating pin collecting and trading was at its zenith.
A second pin featuring the “Peanuts” character Snoopy also was issued for the 1981 U.S. Championships, but it must be noted that Snoopy was not an official mascot for the event. The 1″ x 1″ (2.54 cm x 2.54 cm) cutout-style pin instead should be thought of as an event tie-in. Like the logo pin, the Snoopy pin is executed on a gold-color base metal filled with red, white, and blue enamels. Snoopy glides confidently forward atop a band that reads “San Diego ’81,” his colorful ski cap keeping his long, floppy ears both warm and contained. The pin, in a word, is delightful. Who doesn’t love Snoopy? And who doesn’t love Snoopy showing off his figure skating prowess? The judges agree: 5.9 for technical merit and 6.0 for artistic impression.
Enjoy Mission: San Diego. 1981.