The Historic Broadmoor World Arena
Stories and Legends
The Broadmoor World Arena, also known as the Broadmoor Ice Palace opened in 1938
From its debut in 1938 until it closed in 1994, the Broadmoor World Arena – formerly the Broadmoor Ice Palace – became an epicenter of skating in the West. It served as a home rink for U.S. Figure Skating, the Broadmoor Skating Club, ice shows, learn-to-skate classes, speed-skating, curling matches, hockey and more. Erected by Spencer Penrose on the site of today’s West Tower, overlooking Cheyenne Lake, the enclosed ice rink – a former outdoor riding arena – was a favorite community gathering spot.
High schoolers made 4:30 a.m. treks to the Arena’s rink to practice hockey before school – and still talk about post-game “rumbles” in the parking lot. Media announcers climbed a wall-mounted wooden ladder to get into the Sports Box. The legacy rink’s red-carpeted aisles, creaky floors, wooden seats, mounted hunting trophies and wildlife paintings seem etched in our communal memory. Broadmoor Skating Club volunteer and board president Carolyn Kruse often accompanied U.S. Figure Skating National Champions and Olympic skaters to international competitions. She smiles, describing the Curling Club’s “special closet” in the smaller Studio Rink. “That’s where they kept their alcohol – a not-so-well-kept secret,” she explains.
The Arena’s ice skating “glitterati” included headliners like Olympic Gold Medalists Peggy Fleming, Hays Alan Jenkins and David Jenkins and legendary U.S. Figure Skating coach Carlo Fassi – recruited from Italy in 1962 by Broadmoor President Thayer Tutt. World Champions Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, Jill Trenary and Caryn Kadavy trained or appeared here on their way to skating stardom. And who could forget the lavish Ice Revues or the 1977 “Pops On Ice” performance featuring Boston Pops Maestro Arthur Fiedler … The rink also served as a backdrop for the 1978 film, “Ice Castles.”
Peggy Fleming (wife of former Colorado College hockey player Dr. Greg Jenkins) remembers the Broadmoor World Arena as more than just a place to rent a “patch” for technical skills practice. “It was truly a nurturing environment and a good size for championships,” she says. Here, under Coach Fassi, she trained to win. Fleming credits later professional accomplishments -- endorsements, publication of her book, “The Long Program” and 17 years as an ABC commentator -- to her pre-Olympic training with Fassi at the Broadmoor World Arena. The California native was also moved by Broadmoor President Thayer Tutt’s kindness to her family following the death of her father, just weeks after moving to town. “He was proud of me and became like a second father, a mentor,” she says. That support enabled her to achieve a lifelong dream: to win U.S. Skating’s only Gold Medal at the 1964 Olympics. Peggy Fleming returns to The Broadmoor for the 50th year anniversary of her Olympic triumph and the hotel’s 100th year in January.
Hockey generated its own share of colorful stories -- from raucous foot-stomping to rubber chickens tossed onto the ice after a controversial ref’s call. Games at the Broadmoor World Arena were never dull. And the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team, led by former Colorado College Tiger Mike Eruzione, trained here before beating the Russians. Retired USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean tells of being beckoned to a janitor’s closet at the rink by USA Hockey coach Herb Brooks after the gold medal game of the Sports Festival. That’s where Brooks first disclosed the names of the 26 players on the 1980 U.S. Olympic roster.
The Arena saw sobering times as well. The tragic 1961 crash of Sabina Airlines 548 killed the 8-member U.S. Figure Skating Team on its way to the World Championships in Prague. In commemoration, their names are inscribed on a stone skate bench, near the hotel’s lake. For Carolyn Kruse, the rink represents priceless memories. “A lot of skaters and their coaches still talk about it. When they come to visit they stop by the bench – and share such wonderful stories,” she says.