US figure skating body wants to improve sport's tarnished image

WASHINGTON: The US Figure Skating Association (USFSA) is working on a communications program to give figure skating a more positive image.

WASHINGTON: The US Figure Skating Association (USFSA) is working on a communications program to give figure skating a more positive image.

The association, based in Colorado Springs, CO, is the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the US.

Although the communications initiative has been in the works since last year, well before "skate-gate

dominated the Salt Lake City Olympics, the widely reported controversy proved to be a wake-up call that more public education was needed for people to feel good about the sport, said Phil Armstrong, managing partner of Earle Palmer Brown, the agency assisting the USFSA in the project.

The ultimate goal, Armstrong said, is to have figure skating gain the level of positive recognition and involvement as other sports - such as soccer and baseball - that attract youngsters who stay involved for years.

The initial effort will focus "close to home,

he added, specifically to improve communications with stakeholders such as the association's members, skating rinks, and judges. The objective, he said, is to sustain positive interest in figure skating in between Olympics, when its participants may no longer dominate news coverage.

"We will work together with the USFSA to assess its communication and organizational structure, and then leverage that knowledge to reach out strategically to members and to build the brand,

said Armstrong.

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