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—and 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.
In October 1981, a new annual figure skating competition—Skate America—was launched in North America and was contested in Lake Placid, New York. Skate America had officially arrived but had roots going back to 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, also held in Lake Placid. 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.
Although often referred to as the "first" Skate America, the Flaming Leaves International, held in Lake Placid, New York, in the fall of 1979 would best be referred to as the predecessor of Skate America. With that bit of history lesson, on to the pin that commemorated this important pre-Olympic competition—and a handsome figure skating pin it is. On a gold-color base metal, a fiery orange fills the central flames that burn brightly behind a figure skating pair, in forward crossovers.
With a long and storied history of hosting major winter sports events—from speed skating to skiing to hockey to bobsledding to figure skating—Lake Placid, New York, rolled out the red carpet in mid-February for the nation's premiere figure skating event, the 1965 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Like its predecessor events in 1981 and 1982, the pin issued for 1983 Skate America features the original event pictogram first introduced in 1981—pairs skaters gliding on an outside edge—but reinterpreted for this event in gold on a diagonal red, white, and blue enamel background.