By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Oct 20, 2015 at 1:03 PM

All eyes in the world of championship figure skating will be on Milwaukee this weekend when the city hosts its first ever international competition Skate America, at the UWM Panther Arena Downtown.

The event is the first in the prestigious seven-event worldwide Grand Prix series that will culminate in December in Barcelona, Spain. The next events will be held in Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan before the final in Spain.

The Milwaukee event, like the others will feature the best skaters in the world in four disciplines: men's, ladies, pairs and ice dancing.

Everyone will be focused on seeing if American skaters can continue to move into the top ranks in the world of figure skating.

"We have a great development program," said David Raith, who as executive director of U.S. Figure Skating oversees an operating budget of about $14 million a year. "We recognize that we need emphasize our development efforts to keep our athletes competing at the very highest level."

Milwaukee will host the highest level of skating, with U.S. Champions and world and Olympic medalists scheduled to compete

In the Ladies program Gracie Gold and Karen Chen all won medals in last year’s U.S. competition and will skate in Milwaukee 

In the Men’s program the same talent exists  with U. S. Champion Jason Brown leading the way,. 

In the pairs, Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim finished first and Tarah Kayne and Daniel O’Shea ran third; both teams will be in Milwaukee. In Ice Dance, top U.S. teams will skate, headed by Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who finished second in the World Championships.

In addition to the strong U.S. skaters, top skaters in the last world championships will compete.

In Men’s, bronze medalist Dennis Ten will skate and in the ladies silver medalist Satoko Miyahara will skate.

In Pairs, world silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong will skate, as will Chock and Bates, the ice dancers, who finished second in the worlds.

"This is a huge event for us," Raith said, "especially since the world’s will be in America next year (Boston in January). If you’ve never seen skating in person you are in for a treat when you see the speed and power and grace up close and hear the sounds of the skating. It’s an amazing experience."

Visit Milwaukee played a big role in securing Skate America for Milwaukee and will co-host a tailgate party between the afternoon and evening sessions. from 5 to 8 p.m., on Friday outside the main entrance on Kilbourn Avenue.

"Milwaukee is very excited to host its first international event with U.S. Figure Skating and to welcome current and future Olympians to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, a totally renovated facility,"  said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee.

Competition will take place Friday and Saturday with short programs for the men and dance Friday afternoon and short programs for the ladies and pairs in the evening. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 7:30 Friday night.

Saturday will feature the free skate for pairs and ladies in the afternoon and for men and dance in the evening.

Sunday will feature a special exhibition called the Smucker's Skating Spectacular at 2 p.m.

Information on showtimes and to buy tickets is available here.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.