Residents and hotel guests strolling The Broadmoor hotel's Cheyenne Lake in the mid-1960s could stop in at the World Arena on the west side to watch ice skating action. Sometimes it was practice for the Colorado College hockey team; other times, youngsters were in classes, dreaming of becoming champions.
It was also home ice to a graceful ballerina on skates. Sometimes this star in training was doing nothing more spectacular than compulsories, required (until 1990) school figures of circular patterns traced over and over on the ice. Still, visitors were intrigued.
There was no way to know that this figure skater, Peggy Fleming, would go on to achieve greatness as a national and world champion and America's sole gold medal winner, in any sport, at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France.
It was also the start of rebuilding U.S. amateur ice skating's future after the entire U.S. team had been wiped out when their plane crashed in 1961 as they were flying to the world championships in Prague.
The 50th anniversary of Fleming's Olympic achievement was celebrated at a Jan. 20 "Legacy of Ice" dinner, part of this 100th anniversary year at The Broadmoor. Joined by a large contingent of family and friends, the honoree said coming home was extremely touching.
The arena where she trained had aged out after serving since 1938 as a horse arena and Ice Palace and then the original World Arena. Now that lakeside site is Broadmoor West.
After the Olympics, Fleming performed with ice shows and was ABC's expert commentator on skating events, teaming with another champion, Dick Button. There wasn't exactly any training for her TV gig, she recalled, laughing. She walked in and was handed a microphone. That TV gig lasted 27 years.
Colorado College sweethearts, she and now-retired dermatologist Dr. Greg Jenkins have been married 47 years. He had boldly "blocked my way one day as I was leaving the ice at the World Arena and asked me out. Our first date was to 'The Sound of Music.'" It remains their special-occasion movie.
They had two children and created the Fleming Jenkins Vineyards and Winery in California before moving last year back to Colorado, to Denver, where she's "Gram" to three grandchildren. A special Broadmoor-years wall is planned for their home.
Sharing the evening with honoree Fleming Jenkins were a number of other skating greats who trained at The Broadmoor: Jill Trenary, the Polaski family, Jerry Van Brunt, David and Hayes Alan Jenkins, Carol Heiss Jenkins, Christine Krall, Debbie Might and four figure skaters headed to the Pyeongchang Olympics.
"Legacy of Ice" was a benefit for the USA Hockey Foundation and the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund set up to provide financial support to athletes. A memorial to the 1961 team is beside the lake at The Broadmoor resort.
For Gazette sports writer Vinny Benedetto's interview with Fleming Jenkins: gazette.com/figure-skater-peggy-fleming-happy-to-return-to-the-broadmoor-in-2018/article/1617380