Peggy Fleming’s legacy was cemented more than 50 years ago when she won the Gold medal in women’s figure skating at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games. On Sept. 17, a larger-than-life sculpture of her will be set in stone at Sculpture Evergreen on the edge of Lake Evergreen.
“I’m thrilled,” Fleming said recently from her Denver-area home. “This is really cool. I’ve never had this honor.”
The eight-foot bronze sculpture will be placed near the Lake House.
Since winning the only gold medal for the United States at the ’68 Games, Fleming has been one of the most recognizable American athletes on the planet. She became famous in the mid-1960s while training in Colorado Springs at the old Broadmoor World Arena under the direction of famed coach Carlo Fassi.
Fleming won five consecutive U.S. Championships from 1964-68, and three World Championships from 1966-68.
She attended Cheyenne Mountain High School and Colorado College, where she met her future husband of 50 years, Greg Jenkins. The couple lived in northern California until a few years ago when they relocated to the Denver area.
Fleming said she was first approached by Sculpture Evergreen president Tricia Rosenthal a couple of years ago.
“There are so many wonderful sculptures in Evergreen,” Fleming said. “To have one of me there is overwhelming.”
There are nearly 40 pieces of art in Sculpture Evergreen, which is located about 30 miles west of downtown Denver. Fleming’s sculpture will be placed on a pedestal in front of the Lake House. The sculpture is scheduled to be transported from its foundry in Loveland on Sept. 14.
“I wanted to have it put in the water so I’d be skating with people,” Fleming said with a laugh. “But it will have to be on land.”
The Peggy Fleming Tribute sculpture was created by Evergreen sculptor Harold Linke.
Rosenthal is a lifelong fan of Fleming’s and was the driving force behind the sculpture project. Rosenthal said the cost of the sculpture is around $65,000.
“This is the most that Sculpture Evergreen has ever paid for an exhibit,” Rosenthal said. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t biting off more than we could chew. There were a lot of times when we thought, ‘What are we taking on?’ But it’s all turned out very well.”
Rosenthal added that a driving force for having a sculpture of Fleming was two-fold. “We wanted to have an iconic sculpture to celebrate our 25th anniversary, on the heels of Peggy’s 50th anniversary of winning the gold medal at the Olympics.”
Lake Evergreen is frozen in the winter months and guests can skate on it for a small price.
Fleming and Jenkins are frequent visitors to Colorado Springs. They were here last month for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum dedication.
Fleming is an artist herself.
“For many years, I found that skating was my canvas for artistic and creative expression,” she said. “Now, I’ve turned to painting and greatly enjoy this new way to be creative.”