A new annual figure skating competition was launched in North America with the 1981 Skate America event, contested in October of that year in Lake Placid, New York. Skate America originated out of the 1979 Flaming Leaves International, which served as the official test event for the new Olympic Field House arena built for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. In the same arena that had hosted the hockey and figure skating events during the Olympic Games less than two years earlier, an international roster of figure skaters again assembled. Skate America would return to Lake Placid in 1982, with talk at the time that the city might become the permanent host for the event.
For the first 10+ years of Skate America, the original event pictogram—pairs skaters in red and blue, gliding on an outside edge—was used in variations on the event pin, then replaced with completely different designs. The pins for the 1981 and 1982 Skate America events incorporate the pictogram and are nearly identical in design. The main difference comes in the treatment of “Skate America,” which appears in blue lettering on a gold background. The wording on the 1982 pin is smaller in size and appears in a different typestyle. Pins from the 1981 and 1982 events are on display in the gallery below.
For the first 10+ years of Skate America, the original event pictogram—pairs skaters in red and blue, gliding on an outside edge—was used in variations on the event pin …
For both years, the pins measure 1-3/16″ x 7/8″ (3.01625 cm x 2.2225 cm) and are executed in enamel on a gold-colored base metal. A red, white, and blue color palette harkens the patriotism of the good old USA. At the center of the pin, the pair skater pictogram dominates the design, with “Skate America” tucked below and to the left. On each year’s pin, the event location and year appear along the right-hand edge, rotated 90 degrees: “Lake Placid ’81” or “Lake Placid ’82.” Notice that the 1981 event featured both a dated and undated pin while the 1982 event featured only a dated pin.
There is some mystery surrounding the pins. In 1982, while attending Skate America, The Curator of The Netropolitan purchased an undated version of the pin at a souvenir shop on Main Street. It is likely, although not verified, that the undated pin was originally made to commemorate the 1981 event and was simply leftover stock for sale.
Skate America would move on from Lake Placid after 1982 and not return to the Adirondack village until 2009. Enjoy Pre-Grand Prix. 1981–1982.
1981, 1982 Skate America Gallery
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