There will be plenty to celebrate when Peggy Fleming returns to The Broadmoor as the guest of honor at The Legacy of Ice, a Jan. 20 event celebrating old Broadmoor Wolrd Arena - home to past figure skating and ice hockey championships.
Fleming will be celebrating the 50-year anniversary of her figure skating gold medal in ladies singles from 1968 games in Grenoble, France, where she was the only American to top the podium, while the hotel will be celebrating its 100th year throughout 2018.
“It’s a big celebration, and I’m thrilled that they’re happy for me,” Fleming said on a teleconference hosted by U.S. Figure Skating on Thursday.
Fleming has history at the arena.
She moved to Colorado Springs to train with decorated Italian skater and coach Carlo Fassi at The Broadmoor as an adolescent. She went on to graduate from Cheyenne Mountain High School and Colorado College, where a residential building bears her name.
From ice conditions and temperature to coaching, Fleming had few complaints about her time at the old arena.
“That setting, I looked forward to going and training every day,” Fleming said. “It couldn’t have been more perfect.”
Fleming finished third at the 1965 World Championships at the old arena before winning the next three world titles in Davos, Switzerland, Vienna, Austria and Geneva, Switzerland. By time the event returned to Colorado Springs in 1969, Fleming had turned pro after helping the U.S. figure skating program return to prominence after a plane crash killed the entire team en route to the 1961 world championships.
When her skating days were over, Fleming shifted to the commentary booth where she teamed with Dick Button.
“I remember walking into a competition knowing they were going to be commentating my program and fangirling over the fact,” said Tara Lipinski, the American figure skater who became the youngest individual athlete to win gold at 15 years, 255 days during the 1998 Nagano Games.
Button remembers Fleming’s ability to provide a balanced broadcast.
“Number 1, I liked her,” Button said. “Number 2, I respected her, and number 3, she had won the Olympics and number 4, she was very unwilling to really be critical of skaters, and I think that counterbalanced with me.”
Before The Legacy of Ice, Fleming said she plans to attend the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose where the 2018 Olympic team will be selected. An American woman has not won a World Championship or an Olympic medal since 2006, as the sport appears to have placed a higher emphasis on completing athletically demanding triple and quadruple jumps.
“I think skating has gotten more beautiful and more difficult,” Fleming said. “The triple jumps and quad jumps are just really difficult to be consistent. I would like to see skating more balance and more artistry.”
Fleming won’t have much travel to worry about when she returns to Colorado Springs.
She and her husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins, have moved to Denver to be closer to their older son after more than 40 years in California where they operated a winery.
“We could not be happier,” Fleming said. “This is really where we need to be at this stage in our lives.”
In a month, she’ll return to the scene of another important stage of her life. The Jenkinses own some of the old World Arena’s seats and have plans for a display in their new home.
“We are going to make the wall above it some memories of The Broadmoor. It’s very special to us,” Fleming said.
“It’s where life-changing things happened to us.”