Ion International Training Center in Leesburg had been set to host the 2021 US Figure Skating Championship Series in December, making it one of eight sites that would host the event that helps decide who will represent the nation at the Olympics.
The event was scheduled for December and expected to bring in more than 400 figure skaters and almost 200 coaches from 21 states and DC, a huge sporting event in a county that has become known for sporting events.
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled those plans, however, as case counts began to climb again and U.S. Figure Skating switched to an all-virtual format.
“While we understand many of our athletes and their families may be disappointed by this announcement, the health and safety of our members remain paramount,” stated U.S. Figure Skating President Anne Cammett. “As a skating community, our continued ability to adapt during the ongoing pandemic shows the resiliency of our athletes, coaches and officials and their passion for our sport.”
But the now-canceled plans nonetheless represent the caliber of event that was promised when the $100 million complex was opened in 2019—and were in the works before the facility even broke ground.
When the ION center was only an idea, Visit Loudoun, through its Loudoun Sports Tourism brand, was working with U.S. Figure Skating, promoting renderings and the opportunities that would come when the new ice center came to fruition.
“The combination of two outstanding figure skating clubs and having a first-class facility made Leesburg and Loudoun County a great location for this competition and others,” said Visit Loudoun Director of Sales, Sports & Services Torye Hurst, who oversees Loudoun Sports Tourism. “Understanding the current climate dictated a change, we look forward to hosting them again in the future.”
Facilities like Ion and Segra Field—now the home stadium of two pro soccer teams and a pro rugby team—have established Loudoun as a sports destination. And Visit Loudoun has also been in discussions with other national organizations including U.S. Speed Skating, National Collegiate Rugby and National Collegiate Boxing.
“Building on the success of our youth sports programs, we are expanding to include collegiate and other adult tournaments, which supports our efforts to position Loudoun as a premier sports destination and aligns with our strategic plan goals to make sports a key sector of our tourism efforts,” said Visit Loudoun President & CEO Beth Erickson.
The tourism office’s Loudoun Sports Tourism brand, launched in 2019, has helped secure 17 tournaments that are expected to take place in Loudoun in 2021. These events range from hockey and softball to lacrosse and rugby and are anticipated to generate nearly 20,000 room nights in the county—when Loudoun gets past the COVID-19 pandemic.