Great Scott

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

The 2006 world figure skating championships aren't just going to be a who's who of current athletes.

Skate Canada is choosing to use its eighth time hosting the event -- March 20-26 at the Saddledome -- to celebrate its past champions.

Headlining the event will be honorary chair Barbara Ann Scott, Canada's first Olympic champion in skating.

Pam Coburn, CEO of Skate Canada, announced at a press conference at COP yesterday Scott was the obvious choice for the position.

"She won the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, she won Canadians, she won worlds -- actually, she won five events that year with North Americans and European," Coburn said of Scott, who capped that season with her fourth national title, an event hosted by the Glencoe Figure Skating Club in Calgary.

"It was her last amateur competition, so she considers this city to be very special to her."

Coburn revealed invitations also have been issued to all of Canada's former world championship medallists, including Alberta's own Kurt Browning, and the Olympians from the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.

"These athletes represent six decades of Canadian figure skating excellence and have been an inspiration to many athletes," said Coburn.

"Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson will be here. We'll bring back '88 silver medallist Liz Manley as well. It's going to be really fun."

Coburn also revealed the event's logo and on-sale ticket date. All-event packages -- ranging from $395 to $995 -- will be up for grabs through Ticketmaster, starting June 1. Single-event tickets may go on sale when the event draws nearer.

Skate Canada is expecting more than 200 athletes from more than 45 countries for the International Skating Union championships.

Some will be fresh from the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, Feb. 10-26.

"As we enter a new Olympic cycle," Coburn explained, "some of the athletes will be at the conclusion of their careers but it will also mark the beginning of the journey to the Vancouver 2010 podium for many new athletes."

And she has no fear the possible absence of Olympic champions will hinder interest in the event, which comes back to Calgary for the first time since 1972.

"We've had worlds in Montreal, in Ottawa, in Vancouver and twice in Alberta and we've done very well,"Coburn said.

"I think the audience for figure skating is very transient and we'll probably see 60 or 75 percent of the people come into the city to watch it.

"We have a very strong fan base here for figure skating, so we're hoping people get really engaged in the process -- either get out watching or get involved in the volunteering process."

Team Canada will be comprised of three men, including 2005 world silver medallist Jeff Buttle, two women, two pairs teams and two ice dance teams.

"We're going to see some great skating,"said Coburn, adding Canada has medalled 79 times in 60 years at the worlds.

"We'll also see the new judging system in its full effect at a world championship.

"You never know what will happen. I can tell you from being in Moscow last year, the possibilities of where a skater starts out and ends up is anybody's game now."


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