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The '98 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Philadelphia's CoreStates Center drew 13,972 yesterday and a sellout of 19,082 for the women's finals Saturday night, bringing the total to 115,004 for the entire competition, according to Diane Pucin of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The event topped the '97 nationals in Nashville, which drew 103,578 and the 114,444 attendance record set at the '96 nationals in San Jose. USFSA Exec Dir Jerry Lace said that his organization "was pleased with the week." Pucin reports that though attendance was good, the women's short program took place Thursday at noon, so "only" 6,832 were there for Michelle Kwan's performance that received seven perfect scores (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/12). In Houston, Bill Sullivan: "A made-for-TV schedule, which dumped the men's competition into less desirable midweek slots, didn't help the live gate. Nor did ticket prices that ranged from $20 to $50 for the ladies short program and $35 to $75 for the men's free skate. ... [Y]ou wonder if a little better scheduling and a bit more sanity in pricing might not make for a better in-house event overall" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/11). In L.A., Mike Penner wrote that the CoreStates Center "was at one-third capacity -- or less -- for most weekday sessions," but the local newspapers "cannot be blamed for failing to get out the word. The Daily News and the Inquirer accorded the championships the kind of blanket coverage befitting a Final Four" (L.A. TIMES, 1/11). FIRST RATE: ABC drew a 12.9 overnight rating for Saturday's broadcast, which featured live coverage of the ladies free skate. Nearly 13 million households tuned in to all or part of the telecast, and close to 15 million watched the final hour. The rating "was almost double" the 7.2 earned by last year's telecast of the final night of competition (Rachel Blount, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/12).