Professional Skaters Association
The Professional Skaters Association International is the largest figure skating coaches association in the world. The PSA was founded on August 10, 1938 in Lake Placid, New York, as the American Skaters Guild, just two years (1936) after the Ice Teachers Guild was formed in England by Jacques Gerschwiler, Howard Nicholson, Gladys Hogg and Eric Van De Weyden.
On January 21, 1950, at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the American Skaters Guild was reorganized and renamed the Professional Skaters Guild of America.
In May 1995, the PSGA once again changed its identity to the Professional Skaters Association, International (PSA). With this new name the association took on a renewed role in the sport of figure skating, but vowed to remain rooted in its 57-year history and ideals. The “birth” of the PSA reflected the changing scope of this organization’s activities and of the worldwide skating industry. The Board of Directors felt it was time to adopt this new name, acknowledging that the PSA is the world’s premier professional skating organization. The PSA is the official figure skating coach’s education, training and accreditation program for U.S. Figure Skating and the Ice Skating Institute.
A History of the U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championships
The U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championships was sponsored by the Professional Skaters Guild of America, the precursor of the PSA. The first event was held in Philadelphia, PA, February 21-22, 1981 and featured some of the top skaters of the time—reigning World Professional Champion Scott Cramer, Stacey Smith & John Summers, and Sheryl Franks & Michael Botticelli. The top three finishers represented the U.S. at the World Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain.
The U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championships was first shown on ESPN in 1988 and continued on until 1995 on CBS, USA, and TBS. In 1995 when the ISU introduced the ISU Champions Series—which would later change its name to the Grand Prix of Figure Skating—it was a severe blow to the long established pro competitions like the U.S. Open, the World Professional Ice Skating Championships, and a popular skating event from Candid Productions, The World Professional Championships. Around the millennium, Nielsen ratings for professional skating competitions were declining and the TV networks were shifting towards a time-buy model. Prior to this model being introduced, producers would shop the rights to their programs with most production expenses being picked up by the network. There was little risk for the producers as they got paid whether the network could sell the advertising or not. With the time-buy model, the producers would purchase the air time, pay for the production, and sell the ad space; they assumed all the risk and made less revenue. The U.S. Open did not have a television contract in 1996 but with their partner, Sports Marketing Marque Group, was broadcast on UPN in 1997 and the last U.S. Open on NBC in 1998.
The return of the U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championships was held on May 23, 2015 in Bloomington, MN and featured one event comprised of men’s, ladies, pairs, dance, and group. The competition was judged based on skaters' “total performance” with an eye to costuming, presentation, music selection, choreography, style, and technique. The event was open to all performing and teaching professionals who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A 10 point scale was used for scoring with open judging and live judging comments after each program. Awards were presented to the top four skaters. A Grand Champion was announced plus three additional awards and cash prizes.
The 2016 U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championships will be held on May 31, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV with the same guidelines as 2015 The Professional Skaters Association hopes to increase awareness of this event in order to continue to provide additional opportunities for skaters to express and share their love of ice.