In 1960, four Americans took home both the gold and bronze medals in figure skating at the Olympics. One of those recipients was Nancy Ludington Graham. Just one year later many of those same athletes boarded a plane for the 1961 World Championships in Prague and never returned.

The plane crashed killing everyone on board. This included the entire US Figure Skating team, coaches, judges, family members, friends and the flight crew. Ludington Graham had decided to retire from competition, which, in turn, saved her life. She received news during the night that a plane crash had taken the lives of her teammates and best friend.

The film “Rise” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the tragedy will play at selected theatres nationwide Thursday, Feb. 17. A live simulcast from New York hosted by NBC’s Matt Lauer will feature interviews with American skating legends and current champions such as 2010 Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek. The film, told through the voices of Dakota Fanning, Patricia Clarkson, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Michelle Kwan and Scott Hamilton, will follow the live broadcast.

Ludington Graham began competing in pairs figure skating in 1956 and won the U.S. Junior National title that year. Along with her Olympic medal at Squaw Valley, Calif., she and partner Ron Ludington, won four U.S. Championships and the World Bronze medal. Although she coached a bit following the Olympics, most notably working with Olympic silver medalists Peter and Kitty Carrruthers, she chose to take a break. Ludington Graham married physicist Frank Graham and raised a family while staying in touch with the skating world she was such an important part of.

She resumed coaching about six years ago. “It is a passion for me and I love it,” she said. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to work with great young kids. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.”

Ludington Graham now lives in Surry and teaches local children her skating magic through the Skating Club of Maine’s Coastal Region at the Midcoast Recreation Center on Route 90 in Rockport. She said most of her skaters are skating for the love of the sport not necessarily for “Olympic glory.” The Skating Club of Maine offers lessons at MRC on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A full schedule of lessons can be seen at

When asked if she will see the film, Ludington Graham said, “How can I not,” adding she may choose to watch it privately at a later date.

Visit for a listing of theatres showing “Rise.”

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