Peggy Fleming became the darling of the skating world when she won the U.S. Senior Ladies crown at the age of fifteen. Fleming’s career blossomed at a time when her sport and country were desperate for a hero.
In 1961, the entire United States Figure Skating team died in a plane crash on the way to the World Championships in Prague. Fleming’s success over the next decade helped fill a terrible void left by the tragedy.
Though Fleming had already won the U.S. championship, she had not done as well as she had hoped internationally. In hopes of achieving greater success, Fleming and her family moved to Colorado Springs to train with European star Carlo Fassi. The moved marked a turning point in her career.
Fleming successfully defended her U.S. title four consecutive times, and she captured three straight World Championships. Fleming’s competitive career culminated with a gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in France. Her medal was the only gold the U.S. team took home that year.
Fleming retired from competition after the Olympics, but she continued skating in a series of popular television specials.
Fleming’s success over the next decade helped fill a terrible void left by the tragedy.