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July 1, 2015

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January 10, 2006
PRECIOUS MEDAL


Rege Vogan of Vogan’s Gold & Silver Works positioned an Olympic skating pin for engraving Monday at his shop in Colorado Springs.


Pins for the six Olympic skating champions.

 

By DEBBIE KELLEY THE GAZETTE

This week, 18 small pins that replicate the blade of a figure skate are being handcrafted with painstaking precision by the Vogan family of Colorado Springs. Next month, the pins will be in the hands of Olympic figure skating medalists in Turin, Italy, where the XX Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 10-26.

“It’s such a thrill. We’re so proud to be able to do this,” said Teri Vogan, coowner with her husband, Rege, of Vogan Gold & Silver Works in the Bon Shopping Center, north of downtown.

This is the first year the Vogans’ pins will appear at the Olympics. But it’s the fourth year that the local jewelry shop that repairs, restores and designs jewelry has won a contract from the U.S. Figure Skating Association to produce what are known as Radix pins. Beginning in the 1960s, the pins have been given to figure skating champions around the world.

The Vogans have, since 2003, made 94 Radix pins a year for winners of national and world skating competitions, such as the pre-Olympic national championships, taking place through Sunday in St. Louis.

That means the likes of five-time World and nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan, reigning U.S. and World silver medalist Sasha Cohen and Irina Slutskaya, last year’s World gold medalist from Russia, all have a Vogan-made pin or two.

“To think that these skaters and this year’s Olympic medalists might be wearing our pins is pretty cool,” Rege Vogan said.

In the Olympic tournament, men and women figure skaters who capture first-, second- and third-place medals will receive one of the pins created at the Vogans’ shop. The U.S. Figure Skating Association presents them to athletes on behalf of the trust of Harry Radix.

A member of the Chicago Figure Skating Club, Radix was active in the 1950s and 1960s on committees of the trade association and the United States Olympic Committee. In the early 1960s, the skating enthusiast began producing blade-shaped pins to give to champions as a memento to highlight their accomplishment.

Radix died in 1965, but his will stipulated that the tradition continue, and a trust was established for that purpose.

After getting the pin contract in 2003, Teri Vogan fashioned to the millimeter a nearly identical replica of the original pin, one of which is at the U.S. Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs.

“You can’t take any shortcuts — they’re individually cut out of gold or silver, soldered, polished and engraved,” she said. Gold medalist pins have a small diamond added.

The Vogans’ daughters, Janelle and Holly, also work in the family jewelry shop and have a part in the pins’ creation.

The 10-karat gold pins, with delicately etched dates and competitive categories, are worth about $90.

“The Radix pin is a valued award. If someone doesn’t receive one or it gets misplaced, they get anxious, and we hear about it,” said Dalean Greenlee, a director at the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Colorado Springs resident and former skating champion Barbie (Swade) Harrington says she treasures hers. She and junior dance partner Jim Milns won the Midwestern Figure Skating Championships in 1967, and each received a Radix pin.

“It’s an honor," Harrington said. “It makes you feel like a champion to wear it.”

Many skating medalists sport a lapel full of Radix pins, Greenlee said. Others, like Harrington, have theirs made into bracelet charms.

Vogan’s Radix pins for Olympic medalists will be shipped this week. As with national and world ice skating competitions, the Vogans plan to tune in to Olympic figure skating coverage and marvel in how the world does seem small at times.

“We want people to know these are made