The country's best figure skaters took over the TD Garden ice Tuesday afternoon. The talented group included five gold-medal winners from the recent 2016 US Championships — Adam Rippon (men's singles), Alex and Maia Shibutani (ice dance), Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea (pairs), as well as ice dance silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and women's third-place finisher Ashley Wagner. They were in town to promote the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, which will take place March 28 to April 3 in the same building.
"It's more exciting to be coming here after [Nationals in] St. Paul than going home," said Alex Shibutani, who was born in Boston. "Because with the anticipation of Worlds being here and going to a Bruins game tonight, it's going to be fun. It's a nice way for us to have a moment to celebrate before we get back to work."
Added Maia Shibutani: "It's really inspiring to come here straight from Nationals because we'll be back here shortly."
Boston and TD Garden will welcome close to 200 skaters from more than 40 countries in March, and they will compete for four international titles. The week-long event is expected to draw more than 75,000 spectators and create a $30 million economic boost for the region.
"This is exactly the type of event we want to bring to the city," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in a press conference held on the ice.
Shortly after Walsh welcomed members of the US team to Boston, the skaters performed excerpts from the programs that earned them medals at Nationals. The TD Garden filled with strains from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, the Beatles and Coldplay. The time spent on the ice gave Boston a glimpse of what to expect with Worlds, and it helped the skaters get a better sense of where they will compete.
After all, the skaters want to use home ice to their advantage. The World Championships last took place in the US when Los Angeles hosted the competition in 2009. While this is the first time Worlds will be held in Boston, the TD Garden is already familiar to some top US competitors. The US Championships were held here in 2001 and 2014.
"Every arena is a little bit different," said Alex. "The dimensions feel a little bit different to us. They might be, on paper, the same across the board for all NHL venues, but it's nice to have this as a mental image going forward. Visualization and mental preparation is really important."
Added Maia: "It's great to get a sense for the building again. We'll be able to think about this moment, this day for the next few weeks and it will really help us come March. We're experienced so we're used to going to arenas that we don't normally see, but this is a nice little bonus."