Maine skater commemorates tragedy

6:27 PM, Feb 14, 2011   |    comments
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SURRY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The U. S. figure skating community is commemorating the loss of the 1961 national team fifty years ago on Tuesday.  A Surry woman, who won a bronze medal at the 1960 Olympics, will spend the day quietly remembering her good friends who died in the Brussels plane crash. 

Nancy Ludington Graham was a pairs skater at the Squaw Valley Olympics in 1960.  She turned pro after the games and was not on the ill-fated flight that left New York on Valentine's Night, 1961.  The next morning, the plane crashed on approach in Brussels killing all 72 people on board.  It was the first crash of a Boeing 707 which had first been produced less than three years before.

"They were wonderful people. They were my very good friends," Nancy Ludington Graham told NEWS CENTER.

Eighteen of the dead comprised the U. S. World Figure Skating team.  Another sixteen were family members and coaches.  They were bound for the World Championships in Prague.  The event was cancelled as the world sporting community mourned.

"It took a good eight years to bring skating back to the level it would have been at," noted Graham, who is still grieved by the accident. 

Her best firend, Maribel Owen was among the team members on the plane.  Although most remember Owen as a 1961 National Champion, Graham remembers her more fondly and personally.  "She was a wonderful mimick. She would go out and skate someone else's routine and just mimick them perfectly!"

"Rise," a movie about the tragedy and the U. S. team's return to prominence with Peggy Flemming's gold medal winning performance at the 1968 Olympics, will debut in selected theatres nationally on Thursday.


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