PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The U.S. Figure Skating’s Synchronized Skating Championship is skating to the Peoria Civic Center next March.

Audrey Kamm, a retired synchronized skating champion from Peoria, said it’s a thrilling sport to watch.

“You have 12-16 skaters moving on the ice, coming at fast speeds, intersecting with each other, lifting each other, jumping in the air and moving really fast, so it’s an exciting sport,” she said.

The skating championship comes after Peoria lost a 25-year partnership with the Illinois High School Association’s Boys Basketball Tournament, which was a big moneymaker for the city.

JD Dalfonso, president and CEO of Discover Peoria, said this new deal is much bigger. He said 4,000 hotel rooms will be filled with 1,200 attendees in March, typically a slow time for the hospitality industry.

“I would say it’s not comparable because this will be more – clearly by the room demand in hotels and the attendees descend from all over the country. We’re talking east coast, west coast teams and everywhere in between coming to Peoria for this event. Just by nature, a national figure skating event versus a state tournament will draw more attendees and more economic impact,” he said.

Gail Tanger, U.S. Figure Skating official and chief referee of the championship, said 600 teams are practicing for the championship, but only a portion will skate on ice in Peoria.

“There’s so much excitement at a national championship. Right now, our skaters are working very, very hard to go through their competition cycle to see if they can be one of the 90 teams that will get to Peoria,” she said.

Tanger said synchronized skating is primed to be the newest Olympic event.

“I love synchronized skating. I think it has introduced a whole new level of skating in our country… This sport is emerging as the next Olympic event being inserted, and Peoria is just at the forefront of that.

The event takes place March 1-4, 2023. Tickets are on sale at the Peoria Civic Center Box Office.