Liu Greeted by Governing Council Delegates with Standing Ovation

U.S. champion Alysa Liu helped to kick off the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Governing Council (GC) on May 3 with a surprise visit to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she fielded questions from four U.S. ladies champions and Olympic medalists.

Liu, who in January broke the record of Tara Lipinski by becoming the youngest U.S. ladies champion in history at age 13, received a standing ovation from more than 300 delegates and officials as she made her way to the front of the Antlers Hotel meeting room.

Carol Heiss, Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski each congratulated Liu via a video that played on a big screen, and asked the guest of honor a question. The last video question was from 9-year-old Broadmoor Skating Club member Jocelyn Nutt, who sees the young Liu as a skating role model.

The iconic photo of Liu being helped up to the top of the podium at the 2019 U.S. Championships in Detroit served as the catalyst to raise $2,500 for the Memorial Fund at GC. Brent Diederich, manager, giving programs at U.S. Figure Skating, welcomed bids from the delegates to recreate that special moment with Liu, on the same podium as used in Detroit. Two delegates — Preciosa Frank and Nicole Lambert — combined their bids to win the photo opportunity.

In a notable bylaw amendment change, U.S. Figure Skating revamped its mission statement in accordance with the 2018–2022 Strategic Plan to better reflect the organization’s vision of “Together, we foster fun and inspire a lifelong passion for skating while developing champions on and off the ice.”

A mission statement is the core purpose of an organization and explains why it exists and serves as a guide for day-to-day operations and the foundation for decision-making.

The new mission statement focuses on “we” and empowers all members to work toward the mission: “We create and cultivate opportunities for participation and achievement in figure skating.”

The revised mission is more concise, easier to remember and motivating, according to the rationale in the 2019 GC Meeting Book.

In another approved bylaw amendment change, an adjustment was made to last year’s committee realignment that allows for more focus on the recruitment of officials, while maintaining officials training as a separate committee. The two committees are now called: “Domestic Officials Recruitment and Management” and “Officials Training.”

Courtney Welton from Taoti, the website development company hired by U.S. Figure Skating to redesign its .org site, spoke about how it plans to give the organization a website that features a bold, cutting edge design that is user friendly for all constituents.

“We empathize with all users; we are holding stakeholder interviews and putting ourselves in the user’s shoes,” she said. “We want to get people excited about U.S. Figure Skating and engage new members.”

U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith provided an update on the organization’s eight-year TV extension with NBC. Last year was the first year of that new pact.

“We had the greatest amount of hours on TV (last year) than ever before on NBC, NBCSN and the Olympic Channel,” Raith said. “We are also excited about NBC Sports Gold and look forward to continue working with them.”

Raith talked about the heavy schedule of events to be hosted in the U.S. next season, including a Junior Grand Prix Series event in Lake Placid, New York, where Liu will make her international debut; a Challenger Series synchronized skating event (California Cup) at the new facility in Irvine, California; and the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Lake Placid.

“It will be a busy season and we are looking forward to it,” Raith said.

At the end of Friday’s GC meeting, longtime officials were recognized for their milestone anniversaries, including 50-year judges Theresa Fischer and Sam Singer and 50-year accountant Patricia Soanes.

At Saturday night’s Athlete Advisory Committee annual fundraising dinner, Olympian and most-recent U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee Tim Goebel is scheduled to be the guest speaker.