Fig­ure skat­ing mourns colour­ful Cranston

Dead of ap­par­ent heart at­tack at age 65

SundayXtra - - FIGURE SKATING - By Lori Ewing and Neil David­son

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.

DOUG BALL / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Leg­endary Cana­dian fig­ure skater Toller Cranston was known for his artistry.

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