#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
Figure skating has a long history in Colorado Springs dating back to Spencer Penrose’s construction of the Broadmoor Ice Palace in 1937 and the influence of skating on the Pikes Peak region expanded in 1979 when the U.S. Figure Skating Association moved its headquarters to the Broadmoor area. El Pomar Foundation has worked closely with U.S. Figure Skating since its relocation in support of its contributions to the city’s identity as a hub for amateur athletics.
Grantee Spotlight: United States Figure Skating Association
In 1914, skating pioneer and Massachusetts resident George Browne coordinated the first International Figure Skating Championships of America in an attempt to establish the sport of figure skating in the United States. Because of the success of this event and concurrent efforts to create uniform regulations for the sport, the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) was founded in Boston in 1921. After the U.S. Olympic Committee moved from New York City to Colorado Springs in 1978, U.S. Figure Skating moved across the country the following year to maintain connections with the organization. The new location was ideal as Colorado Springs offered a greater opportunity for USFSA to purchase its own building in close proximity to the frequent host of the U.S. and World Figure Skating Championships: the Broadmoor Ice Palace (located in what is now Broadmoor West). There was also significant financial support available with a bond from the city of Colorado Springs and support from private foundations like El Pomar.
The history of the Broadmoor Ice Palace is interesting in and of itself, and illustrates El Pomar’s early connection to the sport of figure skating. Spencer Penrose decided to transform the Broadmoor Riding Academy into an indoor ice rink in 1937 after seeing Norwegian skater, Sonja Hennie, perform and realizing the value of ice skating as a spectator sport for all ages. The Broadmoor Ice Palace, renamed the Broadmoor World Arena in 1960, housed the Broadmoor Skating Club until the rink’s 1994 demolition. At that point, the club moved to the Colorado Springs World Arena. According to Barb Reichert, Senior Director of External Relations at USFSA, “Colorado Springs has always been a very passionate and knowledgeable figure skating city, and that can be traced back to Spencer Penrose. When Mr. Penrose built the original Ice Palace, he threw open the doors for the international sporting world to come to Colorado Springs.”
U.S. Figure Skating continues to have a significant impact on the sport nationwide as well as a consistently positive impact on the Colorado Springs community. Three Olympic gold medalists, Peggy Fleming and brothers Hayes and David Jenkins, came from the Broadmoor Skating Club. Contributions to the local economy have come from the various Olympic celebrations downtown and frequent visits from famous skaters like Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan. In addition, the headquarters houses the only figure skating museum in the world, displaying a stunning Andy Warhol portrait of Dorothy Hamill, an example of original figure skates made out of animal bone, and several gold medals.
El Pomar Foundation has made nearly $600,000 in grants to the United States Figure Skating Association with its initial grant in 1978 for the construction of the Colorado Springs headquarters. The Foundation is proud to support an organization that continues to contribute to Olympic City, USA.
El Pomar in 1985:
The Foundation made 65 different grants in 1985 for a total of $4.2 million. Top grant recipients include Junior Achievement USA, Air Force Academy Foundation, Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society, U.S. Figure Skating Association, and Peak Vista Community Health Centers.
Images courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating Association
Spotlight by Kathryn Benson