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Fleming launched modern era of figure skating
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Fleming's 1968 gold medal captivated TV audience
By Lisette Hilton
Special to ESPN.com
Feb. 11, 1968 - As the two-time world champion, Peggy Fleming was the favorite to win the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France. It was to be the first time that the Winter Games would be televised to a global audience, live and in color.
Fleming built a large lead in the compulsory-school figures, which accounted for 60 percent of the scoring. In the free-skating program, the 19-year-old was shaky as she performed to Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique." She attempted her trademark spread eagle-double axel-spread eagle but pulled off only a single axel. She also two-footed the landing on her double lutz.
Still, it wasn't enough to prevent her from winning the competition. Receiving all the first-place votes from the nine judges, Fleming left her closest competitor and main rival, Gabriele Seyfert of East Germany, 88.2 points behind as she was the only American to take home a gold medal from these Olympics.
When asked if the imperfect performance took away from the moment, Fleming said, "A little, but the satisfaction of standing up to the enormous pressure without a major disaster was an accomplishment in itself. I would have been prouder if I'd had the performance of a lifetime, but not many athletes have had that at their Olympics."
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