Carlo Fassi, a figure skating legend who coached Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, John Curry and Robin Cousins to Olympic gold medals, died today after suffering a heart attack at the world figure skating championships. He was 67.

Fassi collapsed at Malley Sports Center before he was to attend the practice session of U.S. skater Nicole Bobek, whom he was coaching. Bobek practiced without knowing Fassi's condition, and, after being told that her coach had died, she decided she would not withdraw from the women's competition, which begins Friday. She even practiced briefly this evening with Cousins, the 1980 Olympic gold medalist, beside the boards to assist her. He will act as her coach during the competition.

Fassi "was always here for me and he always cared," Bobek said, her voice cracking with emotion. "He took the place of being a father for me. . . . From what I heard, one of Carlo's last words were to Christa {his wife}, asking her to please be with me for my competition. We all love him and we will miss him."

Fassi, who was born in Milan in 1929, won a bronze medal at the 1953 world championships and twice won European titles.

He became a coach, and moved to the United States to find work after the entire U.S. figure skating team and many top coaches were killed in a plane crash on the way to the world championships in 1961.

One of his first pupils was a California teenager named Peggy Fleming. Fassi began coaching Fleming in 1965. Three years later, Fleming was the Olympic gold medalist.

"He really knew how to draw out the best in his students so they had their own identity," said Fleming, here to announce the world championships for ABC Sports. "He was a very special individual to be able to handle all the different personalities he did and bring out such high quality again and again and again."

Fassi, who was fluent in three languages, was known for an uncanny ability to lobby the judges on behalf of his skaters, especially during the days of the compulsory school figures, which were eliminated in 1990. He also ended up with some of the world's best skaters. For 30 years, he put the finishing touches on dozens of superb skaters.

"I'm certainly very grateful to have had him in my life," Fleming said. "And he forever changed it."

Fassi, who coached for years in Colorado Springs and most recently was based in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., is survived by Christa and three children.

Russian Pair Leads: In the original dance, Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov of Russia stayed in the lead, with Americans Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow remaining in sixth.