January 24, 2015 5:07 pm
Updated: January 25, 2015 12:16 pm

Legendary figure skater Toller Cranston, 65, has died

Toller Cranston skates in front of Toronto's city hall in February, 1973.

Fred Ross / Canadian Press Photo

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico – Canadian figure skating has lost one of its legends.

Toller Cranston, a bronze medallist at the 1974 world championships and 1976 Olympics, died at his home in Mexico from an apparent heart attack, a Skate Canada spokesperson said Saturday. He was 65.

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Cranston, a six-time Canadian senior men’s champion, 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.

Cranston was born in Hamilton, grew up in Kirkland Lake, Ont., and Montreal before settling in Mexico once his skating days were done.

He was also an avid artist and his work was exhibited in galleries and museums around the world.

Cranston won national titles from 1971 to ’76 and placed second at the 1971 North American championships in Peterborough, Ont. He won Skate Canada International events in 1973 and ’75.

He finished fourth at the 1975 world championships in Colorado Springs, and was fourth again a year later in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Cranston was 26 when he reached the Olympic podium at the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck.

He was later inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1977.

In 1995, he received a Special Olympic Order from the Canadian Olympic Committee. Cranston was also an illustrator, author, designer, choreographer and sports commentator.

There was a moment of silence in his honour Saturday night at the Canadian figure skating championships in Kingston, Ontario.

Former world champion Brian Orser says Cranston, who was born in Hamilton, and grew up in Kirkland Lake, Ontario and Montreal, was one of a kind.

Olympic pairs silver medallist Debbi Wilkes, who trained with Cranston, says he was absolutely mesmerizing, while Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut called him “a trailblazer for sport” in Canada.

Autopsy results were pending. There was no immediate word on funeral plans.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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