Last Updated on January 30, 2021 by Netropolitan Museum
Figure skating’s best traveled to the Pacific Northwest in early February for the 1978 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held in Portland, Oregon. You might say that the Memorial Coliseum was, for a few days, the city’s original autonomous zone, but this time harboring a group of obedient and law-abiding inhabitants: figure skaters and followers of the sport.
Commemorating the national event was a small, round pin that has earned a certain distinction. The soft, uncoated silkscreen finish is perhaps the most delicate ever used in production of a pin for a major championship, and even the slightest mishandling will mar or scratch the surface. Now, 40+ years after the event, it is unusual to find the pin in good condition and without at least some damage.
The 1978 Portland pin is a charming and folksy souvenir of a time when figure skating was innocent and unaffected.
The 1978 Portland pin is a folksy souvenir of a time when figure skating was innocent and unaffected—when compulsory figures were revered, a well-executed double Axel was a thing of beauty, and skaters respected the sport and valued its tradition. The main logo design of the 1978 U.S. Championships speaks to that simpler time. Such is the wholesome appeal of the design that it could have been created by a high school graphic arts class.
On a white background and above a large, central “78” designed in keyline style, a silhouette of a female figure skater seemingly prepares to trace the figure eight. Notice the positioning of the skater is delightfully stilted and “off,” looking a bit more like a gymnast than a figure skater. Measuring 1″ (2.54 cm) in diameter, the pin is on a gold-color base metal and features a decorative, rope-style edge. Above the year and to the left of the skater is the event location: “Portland, Oregon”; and tucked into the negative space of the numeral “7” is the event date: “Feb. 8-11.” Around the circumference of the pin, on a dark blue background, is the event name: “United States Figure Skating Championships.” Similar to other U.S. Championships pins of the time, this pin also is executed in a patriotic color palette of red, white, and blue.
Cheers to what Portland, Oregon, once was. Enjoy City of (Faded) Roses. 1978.
1978 U.S. Championships Gallery
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