The Life of Peggy Fleming

Peggy Fleming

Reading Comprehension for July 27

Did you ever wonder when figure skating became so wildly popular? Did our country always have such an obsession with the graceful athletes in this field? Much of the attention can be attributed to Peggy Fleming, one of the most identifiable personalities in figure skating.

Peggy Fleming was born on July 27, 1948, in San Jose, California. Her parents were Al and Doris Fleming. Her father was a newspaper pressman. Peggy was the second of four daughters in the Fleming family.

In the beginning, Peggy had a normal childhood. She liked to play baseball and climb trees like other kids. She even lived on a farm for a while. Her family did have money problems, though.

Peggy never even tried to skate until she was nine years old, but, boy, did that change things! Skating on the ice was an incredible thing for her. She loved the speed and the quiet of being on the ice. She was so graceful from the start that it almost appeared effortless for her.

Even without a lot of money, her family managed to pay for her lessons. Her skill was evident to everyone. Her love of the sport did come at a price. She often had to practice at least four hours a day, often before daybreak. Two years later, though, it all paid off when Peggy won her first competition.

In 1961, a tragic event changed Peggy's life forever. The entire U.S. Figure Skating team was killed in a plane crash. They were on their way to the World Championships in Prague. Her coach at the time, Bill Kipp, was among those killed. Peggy was only 11 years old then, but she and other young athletes were the only hope to keep the sport going here in the United States.

In 1964, Peggy and her family moved to Colorado Springs to help her train. Her mom even made her costumes! The prominent figure skating coach Carlo Fassi became her teacher. Peggy worked hard, and the move paid off.

From 1964 to 1968, Peggy was the U.S. Ladies Champion. She won in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1964, in Lake Placid, New York, in 1965, in Berkeley, California, in 1966, in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1967, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1968. Peggy Fleming was also a World Champion from 1966 to 1968. She won in Davos, Switzerland, in 1966, in Vienna, Austria, in 1967, and in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968.

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