Toller Cranston | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Toller Cranston

Toller Cranston, CM, figure skater, painter, author (born 20 April 1949 in Hamilton, ON; died 23 January 2015  in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico). A creative and controversial skater and artist, Cranston was widely known for his unique free-skating style. Although never a world champion, he gained more attention in the early 1970s than many who did win gold medals. With his highly individualistic approach, he is credited with opening men’s figure skating to a more artistic style of bodily movement.
Cranston was Canadian senior men’s champion from 1971 to 1976. He won the free-skate segment of the world championship four times and in 1976 was the bronze medallist at the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck. Turning professional that year, he formed his own ice show and toured with it for two years. He subsequently starred in the Ice Capades show, in several television ice shows, and in the professional competition, Pro Skate. He became one of the most gifted and sought-after choreographers in figure skating.

Cranston was also an accomplished artist and produced, by his family’s estimation, around 20,000 paintings. In addition, he wrote or co-wrote a number of books, including the autobiographical Zero Tollerance (1997) and When Hell Freezes Over, Should I Bring My Skates? (2000).

He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1976 and was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1976), Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1977), Skate Canada Hall of Fame (1997) and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame (2004). In 2003, he received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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