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St. Louis hosts Figure Skating Championships

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – The 2006 U.S. Figure Skating Championships begins in St. Louis Sunday---the first time the city has hosted the event.

About 250 skaters will compete at the Savvis Center and Family Arena through the Championships next weekend.

Five-time world champion Michelle Kwan announced this week that she will not participate due to an injury.

St. Louis Sports Commission President Frank Viverito says he doesn't expect Kwan's absence to affect attendance negatively. He says it will change the story.

Now you see three or four or five of the senior ladies who have an incredible opportunity that they may not have had up until a couple of days ago, Viverito said.

He says the record attendance for the event was 125,000; a figure he hopes St. Louis can match or exceed.

Viverito says he's not sure exactly what the economic impact will be but says it'll be significant.

With thousands of visitors coming to town in January it's very welcome visit for downtown hotels as well as Westport hotels, and businesses throughout the region, and I can tell you the national exposure on ESPN, as well as ABC, is very significant, he said.

Tickets are still available for all the events.