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.
For only the second time in its short history, Skate America was held in a state other than New York. Top competitors from around the world gathered in Portland, Maine, for the 1986 Skate America event. That Skate America was also the first major figure skating competition to be held in the northernmost New England state.
The pins and medal produced to commemorate the 1985 Skate America event in St. Paul Minnesota hold the distinction of being among the most inconsistent as to location of the event. It's an unusual problem, to be certain, and perhaps compounded by St. Paul and Minneapolis often being referred to as the "Twin Cities."
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.