National Theater on Ice set to Begin

A parade ran through downtown Evansville Wednesday, celebrating the opening of the National Theater on Ice.

The theme was Americana, and the team that demonstrated that best won a team spirit award. It was just a preview of the fierce competition sure to come in the days ahead.

"Well we've been planning this since June of last year,” said Jill Plough, competition chair for the Greater Evansville Figure Skating Club.

That group, along with the Evansville Sports Corporation had a vision that's now become reality, and they're feeling pretty cool.

"It’s the largest sporting event, amateur sporting event, to ever come to Evansville. So we set the record for that,” Plough said with a smile.

80 teams from around the country with more than 1,300 skaters will compete in ice dancing, individual and pair skating.

Teams like the Virginia Ice Theater.

"What kind of preparations? 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Coach Olga Garrity said.

"Some of the programs, we started conceptualizing years ago,” fellow coach Terry Barr said. “We just want to come and be better than we were yesterday, or better than we were a month ago, you know. Just keep improving."

"And we want to entertain,” Garrity added.

But not every part of the process has been a smooth ride. The combined road closures from Shrinersfest, the parade, and downtown construction makes navigation a little tricky for visiting teams and people wanting to attend.

"They just got to kind of near the side streets a little bit, and try to avoid the major ones. I just kind of take Second Avenue and get around everything,” Brian Hindman said walking down Riverside Drive.

"Yeah there are always concerns about that, you know with parking and everything. You know, we've got 80 teams coming into the city, and everyone's driving, but you know, you just got to roll with the punches and figure it out as you go,” Barr said.

Beyond logistics, organizers are still looking for help in anyway they can get it.

"Absolutely, we need volunteers really, really bad. We have about 615 volunteer spots that we need to fill, and we've filled about 250,” Plough said.

Despite the lack of manpower, the people at ford center say everything is going according to plan, and they're hoping the Evansville skating scene is about to take off.

"Yeah it's awesome. I'm so glad that we were able to bring this to our city, and hopefully put Evansville on the map a little better, with the, just with the United States, and with U.S. figure skating."


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