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Figure Skating Went On While the Waldo Canyon Fire Burned In Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs Skaters Continued to Skate During the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire

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Figure Skating Went On As Usual During the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire In Colorado Springs

Figure Skating Went On As Usual During the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire In Colorado Springs

Photo by Chris Schneider - Getty Images
Just as the Broadmoor Open, one of the largest figure skating competitions in the United States, came to a close on Saturday, June 23, 2012, a raging fire came into Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Colorado Springs is considered a figure skating mecca. Ice skating fans from all over the world wondered if the famous Broadmoor Hotel, the United States Olympic Training Center, the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Colorado Springs World Arena were in danger.

Phone calls, emails, and letters poured in. People were concerned for the figure skating community in Colorado Springs.

Fortunately, most of the figure skaters training in Colorado Springs live around or near the Cheyenne Mountain area which is at the south end of the city. That area was not affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Ice skating and figure skating training went on in Colorado Springs during the time of danger. The city owned Sertich Ice Center held some events to help those affected and the Colorado Springs World Arena became an official donation site.

Even Though Skating Went On, Some Figure Skaters Did Have to Evacuate:

On Sunday, June 24, in the early morning hours, while it was still dark, at 3:00 in the morning, the residents of Manitou Springs, a small mountain city west of Colorado Springs that is really considered part of the Colorado Springs area, was evacuated.

Ice dancing coach and US Figure Skating national technical specialist, Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck, was at the Chesapeake Open Figure Skating Competition and US Ice Dance Training Camp that was held in Baltimore, Maryland at the time. Her husband, Dan Dombeck, had to evacuate their Manitou Springs home on his own and had to notify Tiffany that the couple would have to find a place to stay upon her return.

Patricia Cass, who is well known in the Colorado Springs figure skating community, is a widow living in Manitou Springs. She had to leave her home on her own, deal with the bumper to bumper traffic that was exiting Manitou and fled to her son's home.

Mantiou Springs residents were allowed back to their homes on Monday when the wind shifted and blew the fire away from that area and to the northwest part of Colorado Springs.

Horror In Mountain Shadows:

By Tuesday afternoon, June 26, the Waldo Canyon fire moved into the residential area of Mountain Shadows, a Colorado Springs subdivision located at the northwest area of the city. An emergency evacuation took place. Over 30,000 people had to leave their homes. Families only had a few hours to get some belongings together. Some figure skaters and their families were affected.

Elite ice dancer, Tyler Brooks, saw homes in his Mountain Shadows neighborhood burn down as his family rushed into their house to get a few things after the mandatory evacuation orders were put into effect.

Brooks is coached by Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck.

"The night that Tyler's family was evacuated, I was in shock. The sight of the ash and ember falling from the sky was frightening. There were clouds of smoke so thick that I could hardly even see the road," said Hyden-Dombeck.

During the week that followed, Hyden-Dombeck's skaters continued to skate and train.

"It was a struggle, but during all the excitement associated with the evacuations and the fire, training and skating actually helped my students. Skating was a great distraction from the reality that was happening."

"A Tale of Two Cities" Described Colorado Springs During the Waldo Canyon Fire:

Allison Scott, the mother of 2010 Olympian and 2009, 2010, and 2012 US National Figure Skating Champion, Jeremy Abbott, named what was happening in Colorado Springs "The Tale of Two Cities." She wrote the following to friends:

"On the southwest end of town the sun is shining and there's no wind. On the northwest part of town it looks like a bomb dropped. South of Highway 24 - we are FINE. It's like living on another planet."

Outcome:

The city waited. On Thursday, June 28, it was announced that 347 homes had burned to the ground. The city's beloved Flying W Ranch was gone. Two deaths were reported. People were missing.

The news was good for Tyler Brooks' family; his home was still intact.

Some skaters, such as 2012 Junior World Silver Medalist, Joshua Farris, left the city due to the quality of the air. World Figure Skating Champion, Patrick Chan, had just returned to Colorado Springs. He skated and trained as usual.

Moving Forward:

By Tuesday, July 3, 2012, it was announced that the most families in the evacuated areas and burn areas could return to their homes. Businesses reopened. Skaters in Colorado Springs were skating as if nothing unusual had ever happened in the city. A much wished for cool rain came to Colorado Springs in the early evening.

There was a lot of work to be done. The Waldo Canyon Fire was 70% contained and was away from homes and people. Those who had lost their homes had a long and rough road ahead. The Flying W Ranch needed to be rebuilt, but Colorado Springs was very thankful to the city's firefighters.

Skating and life went on in Colorado Springs and figure skaters from all over the world will continue to come to Colorado to visit, skate, and train. The following statement was shared by skaters and others in the city: "Community does not burn down."

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