Figure skating mourns colourful Cranston
Dead of apparent heart attack at age 65
ONE of figure skating’s brightest stars and most flamboyant characters is gone.
Toller Cranston, a larger-than-life star on and off the ice who helped revolutionize the sport, died at his home in Mexico from an apparent heart attack, a Skate Canada spokesperson said Saturday. He was 65. Cranston, a six-time Canadian senior men’s champion who won bronze at the 1974 world championships and 1976 Olympics, was known for his dramatic showmanship on the ice. While he never won an Olympic or world title, his unique artistic vision forever changed the sport.
There was a moment of silence in his honour between the men’s event and the ice dance Saturday night at the Canadian figure skating championships in Kingston, Ont.
In a sport that later became full of high-flyers replete with arsenals of quad jumps, Cranston was all about the artistry.
“He is his own work of art,” the Globe and Mail wrote in 2003.
When he hung up his skates, Cranston kept on creating with a paintbrush.
“He was one of a kind,” said Brian Orser, a former Canadian and world champion, Olympic silver medallist and now in-demand coach. “Nobody will ever be like him. Such a great contribution to figure skating, but me, personally, (it was) just his sense of humour and his outlook on life and
OBITUARY Games in Innsbruck.
He was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1976 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1977.
“Toller Cranston was a stellar athlete and a trailblazer for sport in our country,” Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement. “His creative performances and artistry on the ice helped revitalize the world of figure skating.”
In 1995, Cranston received a Special Olympic Order from the Canadian Olympic Committee. He was also an illustrator, author, designer, choreographer and sports commentator.
While Cranston had worked in the past with some skaters on their routines, later on in life he called himself estranged from the skating world. He washed his hands of the sport, in part because of the new judging system implemented following the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics that he believed had killed skating’s popularity and stifled its creativity.
But he had no shortage of opinions about the Canadian champions who followed him.
He called Elvis Stojko a “great competitor, one dimensional.” He applauded Orser’s combination of art and sport and liked the dramatic element Kurt Browning brought to the table. And he marvelled at Patrick Chan. “I’m on another planet watching Patrick Chan with binoculars and applauding along with the rest of the world,” Cranston said from his Mexican hideaway in 2012.
“I don’t think I could watch him skate live, I’d commit suicide out of depression at how good he is,” Cranston added.
Legendary Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston was known for his artistry.