To the Up-and-Comers. 1959.

This ribbon from the 1959 U.S. Figure Skating Championships is from the estate of Bill Hickox, who, with his pair skating partner and sister, Laurie, and the entire U.S. figure skating team—plus 71 others—perished on February 15, 1961, when Sabena Airlines Flight #548 crashed in Brussels, Belgium, en route to the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships scheduled for Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins is proud to count this important piece among its U.S. Championships artifacts.

The beautiful, red silk ribbon, as colorful today as it would have been 60+ years ago, is a reminder of a simpler time in figure skating—one when competitions were unencumbered by commercial influences, sponsors, and television contracts; competitors were more friendly rivals; and even a national championship had an element of home-spun charm, as seen in this simple ribbon. A standard safety pin is affixed to the reverse to allow the ribbon to be easily pinned on. The ribbon measures 2″ x 4-1/2″ (5.08 cm x 11.43 cm).

The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins is proud to count this important piece among its U.S. Championships artifacts.

In gold foil lettering, showing only minor affects of time, is the event year, name, and location: “1959 National Figure Skating Championships Rochester N.Y.” It was common in the era for the term “National” or “Nationals” to be used when referring to the U.S. Championships. It is easy to imagine competitors, event officials, and others who would have received the ribbon, or a similar one, proudly displaying it on their heavy winter coats that surely would have been needed in Rochester in late January–early February.

Just two years prior to a devastating time in U.S. figure skating, the 1959 U.S. Championships not only showcased legends who went on to greatness in the sport—Carol Heiss, David Jenkins, and Nancy and Ron Ludington, to name a few—but a stable of up-and-comers in the senior and junior ranks who would ultimately comprise the ill-fated 1961 team. The U.S. Figure Skating Association’s Memorial Fund was established in memory of these skaters.

Read The Netropolitan blog on the pins issued for the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships, which were cancelled following the aviation disaster.


1959 U.S. Championships Gallery

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