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Volume 24 No. 155
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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).