PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — There are 90 ice skating teams from throughout the nation in Peoria ready to leave it all on the ice.
They’re competing in the 2023 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships and it’s the first time the event has been held in Peoria.
The four-day event runs from Wednesday through Saturday at the Peoria Civic Center and coordinators with U.S. Figure Skating said it’s the peak of their season. Peoria leaders said the event is also expected to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of economic impact.
Megan Romeo, the Manager of Events with U.S Figure Skating, said the event is the pinnacle of what they work for which features teams of all age ranges and skillsets.
“All of these athletes have been working all year long to work up toward this event,” Romeo said. “There are athletes here everywhere from 9 to 80-years-old competing.”
She said they’re giving it their all for the chance to earn a national title. Romeo said synchronized skating is still a relatively new sport with a big future.
“There is a push to try to get this sport into the Olympics someday,” Romeo said.
In the meantime, she said they want to show what the sport has to offer as it means the world to those on the ice.
“It is so exciting to win a spot at nationals, it is not easy to get here, the athletes have to work really, really hard both to get on the team that they are competing on and then working with that team to prepare the program that they’re competing this season,” Romeo said. “So, it is just a feeling of accomplishment of making it through the full season and just being here and performing here.”
The competition is also a big boost for the greater Peoria economy.
“I think we’ve got over 3,000 hotels rooms for this event alone, so it’s very exciting,” Beau Sutherland, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Peoria Civic Center, said.
J.D. Dalfonso, President & CEO of Discover Peoria, said the event is expected to generate close to $200,000 into the local economy.
“It really puts Peoria on the map when you have teams from coming from Connecticut and California coast to coast here to Peoria for the national championships,” Dalfonso said. “Working with the Civic Center we’re going to put our heads together as to how do we get more of these events to town.”