What can you say about Paul Wylie’s figure skating accomplishments that most don’t already know?
He is a 1992 Olympic silver medalist, 1993 World Professional Championship winner and a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
And that’s just to name a few of his accomplishments!
This week will mark his third time serving as honorary chairman and ambassador of the United States National Figure Skating Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Paul is no stranger to Greensboro or North Carolina.
I had the honor of meeting him in 2014 when he performed with fellow renowned skater Nancy Kerrigan at the FOX8 Holiday Concert as a preview of the 2015 Nationals, which were also held in Greensboro.
He’s also lived in the Charlotte area for the last nearly 15 years doing a lot of coaching and charity-related work.
Today, however, he and his family are in the process of moving to Lake Placid, New York, where he’s taken a job with the State of New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority. The authority’s purpose is to preserve and keep active the facilities left behind from the 1980 and 1932 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid.
“[We have] all the facilities that you would imagine and need to run an Olympics,” Wylie told me recently from Lake Placid via internet video chat. “We can have [or host] an Olympics tomorrow!”
Although he’s officially retired from figure skating professionally and competitively, he’s still passionate about the competition and will spend this week in Greensboro expressing it.
“Well, my role is really just to introduce the audience to skating,” he said. “Whether it’s through the media or, you know, being on the concourse shaking hands or doing a meet and greet at the Fan Fest, it’s really just to be somebody from North Carolina who understands where figure skating has come from.”
One of the big differences this year compared to when the event was held in Greensboro five years ago is it will be a shorter, scaled-down event.
Only skaters from the top two levels (junior and championship) will compete for national titles in the major categories. The 2015 Nationals included five levels of competition.
This time in the coliseum’s main arena, 17 sessions are spread over six days during which you’ll get to see the country’s top ice skaters.
They include the 20-year-old phenomenon Wylie says may be the greatest American skater ever: Nathan Chen.
“Amazing quadruple jumps. But also he has studied his technique and artistry. So he really is the whole package,” Wylie said. “He’s the reigning world champion, and he’s doing it all at the same time as being a sophomore at Yale.”
And it’s all happening in Greensboro -- a city that may not be the ice skating hub of the world, but one that certainly works well for this event.
“I think it works so well because everything is under one roof at this competition,” Wylie said. “I mean, it’s just warm. It’s not the weather. It’s the people. It’s the fact that they just love skating there and the skaters really enjoy it and feel comfortable there. And I think that’s 100 percent the reason it’s back in Greensboro!”
For more information including schedules and ticketing, click here.