Illustrious Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston passed away this week at his home in Mexico, of an apparent heart attack at the age of 65. Cranston won the bronze in the World Championships in 1974, the bronze in the Olympics two years later in Montreal. In my opinion, he deserved the gold; my guess is his skating was a bit too visionary, a bit too inventive for the judges to fully grok.
I saw Toller Cranston perform back in my own youthful competitive figure skating days in the late 70s. He swooped onto the ice hunched over, dressed like a spider, or something tentacled; the choreography was dark and dreamy, far from the usual figure skating glitz, and I was deeply intrigued and inspired–he showed me that one can skate outside the box, that there’s room for artistry and innovation in the sport, that we can chart our own course, even with blades strapped to our feet. I’ll be forever grateful for his example.