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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

TOLLER CRANSTON

Inducted in 1977

Member Details

Date of Birth: April 20, 1949
Place of Birth: Hamilton, Ontario
Date of Passing: January 24, 2015
Sport: Figure skating
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1971

Gold medal, Canadian Championships

1974

5th World Championships

1975

4th World Championships

1976

Innsbruck Olympic Games - Bronze medal

Won Canadian Championships a record six times

Honoured Member TOLLER CRANSTON
Inspire

Story

As with most people who are ahead of their time, Toller Cranston challenged tradition to great success, but he was forced to wait for the world to catch up. Cranston had the drive, courage, and pioneering talent to shock Canadians out of their seats and the world of figure skating out of its comfort zone into the next generation of athletic mastery. Simply put, he revolutionized men's figure skating. Cranston took up figure skating at the age of seven and thrilled even his first audiences. At the age of ten, his family moved to Montreal where Cranston met Eva Vasak, the coach who would help to develop his artistic ability. Success did not come easily. In 1968, he did not make the Olympic team. At that time, the judges were used to evaluating the sport against a specific set of measures. They weren't able to incorporate the newness of style and innovative expression of a Toller Cranston into a tried and true set of standards. For example, previous to Cranston's debut on the international skating scene, men's figure skating had little arm movement or expression. But hands and arms were an integral part of his routine. Besides the loops and other intricate moves of demonstrated athletic ability, he would swoop to the ice and convey the full expression of the music through his body. But Canadians adored him. Cranston won his first Canadian championship in 1971 and went on to win a record six Canadian titles. In 1974, he finished third at the World Championship and the following year, fourth. At the 1976 Olympics, Cranston earned a bronze medal, marking his return to supremacy in free skating. Cranston's performances may have confounded his critics, but in skating exhibitions he would bring the fans to their feet time and time again. Toller Cranston revolutionized the artistry of men's skating and helped turn it into the art form it is today.


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