Peggy Fleming was born in San Jose, California. She grew up on her family’s small farm nearby and loved playing softball, climbing trees and being a tomboy. At age nine, Peggy’s father took her and her three sisters to skate at a public rink. Peggy had a natural ability on the ice and immediately began skating regularly. She entered her first competition, Juvenile Girls, in 1958 and to her complete surprise, she won! Who would have thought that ten years later she would become Olympic champion?
Unfortunately, in 1961, when Peggy was twelve years old, her coach William Kipp was killed in the plane crash that took the lives of the entire United States figure skating world team. American skating needed to rebuild and Peggy helped lead the way; she stepped up to the challenge by winning her first national championships in 1964.
Over the next four years she honed her skills. A significant milestone was being invited to train with Italian coach, Carlo Fassi, at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.
Under Fassi’s guidance, she won her third US title and her first World Championship in 1966. Peggy’s athletic, graceful and elegant style would eventually lead to five U.S. titles, three World titles and the gold medal in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France. Her achievement there was particularly significant since she won the only gold medal for the United States at these Olympic Winter Games.
Following her Olympic championship Peggy built a professional career that has spanned many decades. She headlined 5 NBC television specials and starred in Ice Follies, Holiday on Ice and Ice Capades. She performed in her own traveling skating show “Concert on Ice” performing in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and theaters across the country. Peggy became national spokesperson for a variety of brands including Canon Cameras, Trident Gum and the California Raisin Board. She became a well-known commentator for ABC Sports/ESPN from 1981-2008 including coverage of the Olympic Winter Games.
Peggy faced her own health challenge in 1998 when she was diagnosed with early breast cancer. Following her recovery, Peggy took on speaking engagements to make women more aware of the importance of early detection and regular checkups. This new platform was as healing for Peggy as it was helpful to other women, as she became a spokesperson and speaker on behalf of women’s health.
Throughout her career, Peggy has contributed to philanthropic causes and helped to raise millions of dollars for many non-profit organizations. In 1999, at Sports Illustrated “20th Century Awards”, Fleming was honored as one of seven “Athletes Who Changed The Game”.
Peggy has an artistic and creative side and has sold paintings along with having her work on display with the Art of the Olympians. For fun in 2007, she appeared in the movie Blades of Glory as a skating judge.
In June 1970, Fleming married her teenage sweetheart Greg Jenkins, who became a physician and dermatologist. They also opened and operated Fleming Jenkins Vineyards & Winery in Santa Cruz Mountains of California. The winery produced 2,000 cases of wine a year and a total of over 40 vintages and varietals. Two dollars from every bottle Victories Rosé went to support breast cancer research and outreach. The couple has two sons, Andy and Todd. Now in retirement, Peggy and Greg enjoy being with their three grandsons and appreciating a more relaxed, low profile in Colorado.
Peggy remains very grateful to have found skating at such an early age. It offered everything she loved – athleticism, music, dance, grace and creativity. Skating gave her a life far beyond her imagination.