In the United States, 1976 was a memorable year: it was the nation’s Bicentennial and a presidential election year. One was a celebration of the country’s rich and glorious history; the other was a mandate on the country’s leadership (although the result of that mandate, many say, would quickly prove to be a colossal mistake). In the world of amateur sports, 1976 was a celebration and a mandate of another kind, all rolled into one: an Olympic year. America’s top figure skaters gathered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the 1976 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the opportunity to earn a spot on the Olympic team to compete at the 1976 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
The red, white, and blue patriotism of the Bicentennial is clearly reflected in the pin issued for the 1976 U.S. Championships—an unusual, long bar shape, something not seen in any other U.S. Championships pin before or after. The gallery below features two versions of the pin: one in silver, likely for sale at the event, and one in gold, likely produced for and given only to those connected with the event: competitors, officials, coaches, and others. Both are rarely seen some 44 years after the event.
The red, white, and blue patriotism of the Bicentennial is clearly reflected in the pin issued for the 1976 U.S. Championships.
The silver-color pin is made of a thin, lightweight metal (likely aluminum) with the U.S. Championships event artwork silkscreened in red, white, and blue. An interpretation of a skate blade, in white, is nicely integrated with the year, “76.” On the blade is the event name and venue applied in blue and red: “U.S.F.S.A. Championships, The Broadmoor.” An odd, backward-slanting treatment is used on the font. And as was common in the era, a more colloquial name was used to denote the national championships, rather than the formal name “U.S. Figure Skating Championships.”
The more substantial gold-color pin is made of metal and is treated similarly, but not identically, to the silver companion. On the gold version, the event name and venue are reversed to the gold-color base metal from the white skate blade. It is interesting to note that the pin does not include the event city name, one of only two early U.S. Championships pins that are known to exclude this information (the other being 1958 Minneapolis).
Just three years after the 1976 U.S. Championships, the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA, or today called U.S. Figure Skating) moved the headquarters operation from Boston, where the organization had been based since 1950, to Colorado Springs. The move was made to align with an earlier relocation of the U.S. Olympic Committee to Colorado Springs. Interestingly, for a city steeped in figure skating history, 1976 would be the last year Colorado Springs would host the U.S. Championships, although the city has since hosted the World Junior Figure Skating Championships and Skate America.
Enjoy Let’s Hear it for the Red, White, and Blue. 1976.
1976 U.S. Championships Gallery
#figureskatingpins #pincollecting #pintrading #pincollector