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Remembering the 1961 U.S. World Team

On 50th anniversary of tragic crash, we pause to remember

A tragic plane crash 50 years ago wiped out a generation of the best U.S. figure skaters.
A tragic plane crash 50 years ago wiped out a generation of the best U.S. figure skaters. (courtesy U.S. Figure Skating)

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By U.S. Figure Skating
(02/15/2011) - Fifty years ago Tuesday, the world was stunned by a tragedy near Brussels Belgium as the crash of Sabena Airlines Flight 548 took the lives of 73 persons.

Among the dead, were the 34 members of the U.S. Figure Skating Team -- 18 athletes, six coaches, four judges and officials and six family members -- on their way to the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

As President Kennedy said in reaction to the tragedy, "Our country has sustained a great loss of talent and grace which had brought pleasure to people all over the world."

The best and brightest -- a generation of this nation's top figure skaters -- were lost in this terrible tragedy. It is a day that will never be forgotten in our sport.

But from this tragedy, a legacy was born. Within days of the crash, U.S. Figure Skating established a Memorial Fund to be a living memorial to the members of the 1961 U.S. World Figure Skating Team. The mission of the Memorial Fund is to provide qualified U.S. Figure Skating members in need of financial aid with monetary assistance through skating and academic scholarships to pursue their goals both inside and outside the competitive arena.

Today, we pay tribute to all who lost their lives in the crash of Sabena Airlines Flight 548, including a talented group of individuals who exemplified the principles of excellence and personal achievement that we all cherish.