By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — The Troy Skating Club is ready to get back to doing what it does best.
Hosting one of the area’s biggest and best figure skating competitions.
From July 11-14, Hobart Arena will play host to the Troy Skating Club’s 44th annual Kathy Slack Troy Summer Competition, a popular event that will see nearly 300 skaters from across the country competing — with the competition being free to the public to attend.
Last year’s competition was the first named after Kathy Slack, a member of the TSC for more than 50 years and long-time champion of the Troy Summer Competition who passed away in late 2017. And though her presence was sorely missed, being able to honor her through the competition she loved helped everyone involved.
“It was great,” Shirey said. “Everyone felt that it was a very appropriate homage and memorial to her. Obviously, the tone of the competition last year, we all love to skate but there was a little bit of somberness because it was the first year in all of the competition’s years that she wasn’t there. I think everybody definitely felt that void, but it feels right to memorialize her with the competition, and I think everybody really liked that choice. It’s gotten great support.
“That will be the name of the competition moving forward, and this will be the second year it will bear her name. And I definitely think the excitement is back with it being the second year. Everybody is ready to compete.”
And this year’s competition also promises to be huge for a number of reasons.
“Last year was a little bit of a smaller year for us. This year, we’ve decided to participate in a couple of series that have upped our participation, so we’ve got another big competition this year,” Shirey said.
The last year couple years, the competition has been pushed back a week because of the Fourth of July holiday. After the competition’s largest year ever in 2016, participation fell to roughly 180 skaters in 2017 and then nearly 200 in 2018.
“The way the Fourth of July fell last year put us in a weird spot,” Shirey said. “We had to have the competition a week later than normal, and that put us close to another competition in the area in the same month, and there was another competition that fell on the same weekend which it normally never does. It was just an odd year in that way really.”
This year, though? The TSC expects 285 skaters to participate, coming from the TSC itself, the greater Miami Valley area and all over the country.
And one big draw for this year’s competition is the fact that it is taking part in a pair of competition series sponsored by U.S. Figure Skating — the 2019 National Solo Dance Series and the 2020 Non-Qualifying Series.
“We bid again for the National Solo Dance Series and were granted that, and we’re also part of the Non-Qualifying Series. Those are two competition series that are sponsored by U.S. Figure Skating,” Shirey said. “The skaters have an opportunity to earn points at these qualifying competitions, and based on how many points they earn in these competitions over the season, there is a championship at the end of the season that they can participate in.
“It really incentivizes skaters to participate in our competition, because it’s an opportunity for them to earn points. And it’s really paid off well for us. It’s brought in a lot of skaters.”
And although the facilities at Hobart Arena and city of Troy itself are cited every year as another reason skaters from all over love to come to the TSC’s summer competition, renovations and improvements over the past few years that are continuing even now just keep growing everyone’s anticipation.
“The last few years, it’s been one new thing after another,” Shirey said. “Three years ago, we were hosting the competition through the middle of the renovation, two years ago the downtown Hobart building was gone and they were starting construction on the hospital. Now the hospital is done.
“There’s been a lot of changes for people that are not from here coming back, and they’re seeing improvements. We still get compliments — the improvements at Hobart Arena have been well received. And I’m sure everyone will enjoy the parking lot changes, too. They continue to improve, and people that notice of that.”
For the TSC, though, the competition — which began in 1974 — is a labor of love that will never get old.
“Everyone in the Club anticipates this competition all year round,” Shirey said. “It is a year-round effort that it takes to plan this event, so it’s always in the back of our minds. And it’s always really exciting when you get to compete at home. Not every arena hosts its own competition. Not every skater gets to skate on their home ice when they get to compete, and there’s just something about being able to compete at home that makes it extra special. Every year, our members always look forward to this competition.
“Growing up when I did this competition, it was my favorite. It was, still is and always has been my favorite one to do, because it’s at home. Everybody in the Club, especially the girls and the other skaters from around here, they really love this competition.”
The competition begins at 8 a.m. Thursday, July 11, and will continue until the afternoon of July 14.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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