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American ‘ice queen’ is a figure skating icon from bygone days

Joelle Forte practiced Wednesday for the US Figure Skating Championships, being held at the TD Garden.
Joelle Forte practiced Wednesday for the US Figure Skating Championships, being held at the TD Garden.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

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Tenley Albright was the golden girl even before the Winter Olympics were on television. Carol Heiss Jenkins made a movie after she won in Squaw Valley. Peggy Fleming was on the cover of Life Magazine. Dorothy Hamill had the hottest hairdo of the 1970s. And Michelle Kwan was mobbed in every hotel lobby she entered.

The US ladies figure skating champion once was America’s ice queen, as familiar to the public as a Hollywood star. If Ashley Wagner, the two-time reigning titlist who’ll begin defense of her national crown Thursday night at TD Garden, is not nearly as well-known as her Olympic-year predecessors, it may be because the sport’s popularity has been dwindling amid a revolving-door sequence of new faces and a complicated scoring system.

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