Venue Popular Among Figure Skaters

On a cold January day, athletes and officials at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha are appreciating the convenience of the skywalk connecting the Hilton Hotel and the CenturyLink Center.

"We're very lucky this year to have this skywalk to walk through and not have to wait on shuttles outside in the cold," said Noah Chinault, a competitor in town for the competition.

His pairs partner Grace Knoop says, "It's nice, especially coming from Florida. It's nice just to stay inside."

Ice dancer Joe Johnson has enjoyed his time in Omaha.

"I don't know. I expected a lot more flat and not as much city," said Johnson. "I mean it's Omaha. So everyone's like, 'Last year was in California and you have to go to Nebraska?' And I was like, 'No this is really fun actually. Especially being in the hotel where all the competition is.'"

Johnson and his partner Tory Patsis compete in the Novice division, which is the lowest of three levels of competition at this weeks events. The next level up is Juniors. The highest is Seniors which is also called the Championship level.

Johnson and Patsis hope to move up to the Junior level and make the U.S. National Team this summer.

"The athletes have to compete at the U.S. Championships [in Omaha] to earn a spot on the National Team," said David Raith, Executive Director of U. S. Figure Skating. "If you're on the National Team, you're considered for the Olympic Team."

The Championship level skaters don't hit the ice for competition until Thursday. Until then, Novice skaters compete during the day, and Junior skaters compete in the evening.

With a single session ticket you will get to see from 12 to 20 performers. Each session usually lasts two to three hours.

As of Monday afternoon, tickets are still available to all the sessions, including the most popular ones this weekend.


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