On Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, U.S. Figure Skating will commemorate the 50th anniversary of a tragedy that shocked the nation and impacted the American sports landscape forever with the nationwide premiere of RISE. RISE is a film that honors the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating World Team that perished on Feb. 15, 1961, in the crash of Sabena Airlines Flight 548 en route to the World Championships. The movie’s premiere at the Best Buy Theater in New York City will be simulcast in movie theaters across the country at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT/5:30 p.m. MT/7:30 p.m. PT (tape delayed).

Matt Lauer, co-anchor of NBC News TODAY Show, is the host of the evening’s activities that include a figure skating performance by 2010 Olympic gold-medalist Evan Lysacek; interviews with the film’s storytellers – Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Michelle Kwan; reactions from other American figure skating legends; and the premiere of RISE.

The five legendary skaters will share personal insights and experiences while giving voice to RISE by linking the interwoven stories of some of the biggest names and moments in the history of figure skating to those skaters on the 1961 U.S. World Team who lost their lives when their plane crashed on its way to the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

With the stories of the 1961 World Team at its center, RISE illustrates how the unfulfilled dreams of those who lost their lives on Flight 548 would be shared – and forever realized – by the generations of skaters that have followed. Commissioned by U.S. Figure Skating, the movie was produced and directed by 16-time Emmy Award winner Lookalike Productions.

Many of the dreams fulfilled since that tragic day in 1961 were made possible through support from the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund. Established Feb. 23, 1961, the fund is a living memorial to those that lost their lives in the crash and has supported thousands of skaters at every level, including Olympic champions, with contributions totaling in the millions. Proceeds from RISE will be used to further the mission of the Memorial Fund, which awards approximately $300,000 annually in grants and scholarships to skaters, recognizing performance both on and off the ice.

For a complete list of theater locations, to purchase tickets and learn more about this historic event, visit www.rise1961.com or follow RISE on Facebook and Twitter.