Thursday, February 17, 2011

RISE -- Figure Skating's Tragic Legacy

A heads-up here for something that's not strictly television, but of course intersects with The Flaming Nose in many ways. A new feature documentary RISE will premiere tonight in movie theaters across the country, along with live coverage from a NYC event hosted by Matt Laurer. RISE commemorates the 50th anniversary of the terrible Sabena air crash of February 15, 1961, that killed the entire U.S. Figure Skating team on its way to the World Championships in Czechoslovakia. (An encore presentation has been added for March 7th.)

Figure Skating has been a staple on TV for many years, especially so as television discovered -- to nobody's surprise -- that it was the highest rated event in Olympics coverage. From exciting events on ABC's Wide World of Sports to more modern venues, Figure Skating utterly captured viewers' imaginations. There was an almost insane surge of skating on TV after the hoopla surrounding Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding (can you believe it's been nearly 20 years since that incident?), and it continues to entertain. Look at this classic footage with Peggy Fleming:

That plane crash in 1961 was a real shocker, wiping out basically the whole swath of figure skating talent at the time and leaving the field vacant for the next group of skaters who would have to fill the void. Eighteen skaters and sixteen coaches, family and friends, along with a planeload of other passengers, perished in the awful calamity. There's always horror connected with a terrible air disaster, but even more unthinkable was the scope of loss, essentially the complete erasure of a huge chunk of youthful sports accomplishment.

Visit the RISE official website, and of course the links we've embedded in this post. The loss of the 1961 figure skating team is a fascinating story, epic in its tragedy and timeless in its human repercussions.


Gillian Doyle said...

Wow, I did not know about any of this!

Jane said...

What a fascinating story. I'm shocked that I never heard of it. Surely HBO will scoop up a documentary of this caliber and play it eventually. I will look forward to it. And Lisa...kudos for doing a "sports programming" related post. I knew you could do it! :)

Lisa said...

I know -- me and sports, not something you will see much of! I was drawn in by the crash horror and found the surrounding story very interesting. I'd like to watch this, too, on TV!