1959 U.S. Championships at The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins
History is on display today at The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins in the form of this competitor’s ribbon commemorating the 1959 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held in Rochester, New York. The ribbon 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 70 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 is proud to count this historic piece among its U.S. Championships artifacts.
As colorful today as it must have been 60+ years ago, the beautiful, red silk ribbon is a reminder of a simpler time in figure skating’s trajectory—one when competitions were free from commercial influences, sponsors, and television contracts; when competitors were friendly rivals; and when even a national championship had home-spun charm to it, as seen in this ribbon. Measuring approximately 2″ x 4-1/2″ (5 cm x 11.4 cm), the ribbon features a standard safety pin affixed to the reverse to allow it to be easily worn.
The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins is proud to count this historic piece among its U.S. Championships artifacts.
The gold foil lettering stamped on the ribbon shows only minor affects of age and time in the event year, name, and location: “1959 National Figure Skating Championships, Rochester N.Y.” 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 a necessity in Rochester in late January–early February.
Not only did the 1959 U.S. Championships showcase legends who went on to greatness—Carol Heiss, David Jenkins, and Nancy and Ron Ludington, to name a few—but it featured up-and-comers like Bill Hickox who would ultimately comprise the ill-fated 1961 team and be denied the opportunity to achieve their own greatness. The U.S. Figure Skating Association’s Memorial Fund was established in memory of these competitors.
Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: Of Simpler Times. 1959.
(This is an edited edition of a blog titled “To the Up and Comers. 1959.” originally published February 27, 2021.)
1959 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Pin Gallery
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