(March 26, 2004)
Legendary Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the 2004 ISU World Figure Skating Championships on Thursday.
The following is the text of the induction that was delivered by Skate Canada National Teams Director Gayle McClelland.
| || | Toller Cranston with friend Delphine Schiavone (left) and National Teams Director Gayle McClelland
Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, President Cinquanta.
December 8, 1997, Varsity Arena, Toronto, Canada
“Life is about cycles, and in skating we have circles, and my circle is coming to an end. Tonight, perhaps, I come full circle.”
These words spoken by Toller Cranston on the eve of a final performance – a skating exhibition in his honor.
Exactly 30 years prior to this ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Germany hosted the prestigious Worlds’ competition in Munich at the Olympiahalle.
Toller was a member of the Canadian contingent at this competition. As is skating tradition, a team leader was assigned to the competition. I had the pleasure of being in the audience at that competition, and the team leader was my father, Doug Coughtry. Thirty years later, I think it is fate or kismet that brings me here to this competition, and a part of this honor ceremony. “In skating we have circles, and tonight perhaps I come full circle.” It is my privilege to be addressing you this evening on behalf of Skate Canada.
We have heard some of the accomplishments of Toller, a remarkable athlete, artist and person.
His career has taken on many facets, each one its own circle, and each one continuing to evolve.
As an athlete, Toller won the first ever Skate Canada International competition. He was three time World Freeskate Champion, and here in Germany in 1974 he claimed the World bronze medal. At the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck Austria, Toller also won the bronze medal. Under the tutelage of master coach Ellen Burka, he thrived as an athlete and artist. Ellen allowed Toller to be himself, explore his own personality, and put no barriers on what is possible.
He is widely acclaimed as the most influential figure skater of the 20th century. During his amateur competitive career, and beyond into his professional skating career, the ice was his canvas, and the blades, his brushes. He captivated his audiences with a dramatic sense of music and choreography – at a time when a more staid and technical style was the tradition, and was expected. He never ventured from his path, and the performances that we are witnessing here at this ISU Championships are a result of the legacy that he has brought to our sport. He was and is an individualist, who is not afraid to be different and who is not afraid to speak his mind.
Demonstrating superb flexibility, remarkable and innovative spin positions and programs that were unquestionably “compositions,” his skating was the catalyst that moved and continues to move the sport ahead, challenging our current athletes to be fearless in exploring other aspects of artistry in their performances, thus completing this circle.
Following his amateur skating career Toller widened his skating circle to include coaching, choreography, costume design, live professional shows and unique television skating specials. These activities resulted in numerous prestigious awards being bestowed upon him.
Never afraid to speak his mind, he was an outspoken commentator, never straying from his beliefs and passion. In 1990 he received an International sport broadcasting award.
The circle which very much represents Toller today is art. Spending most of his time in the beautiful San Miguel, Mexico, Toller continues to enthrall audiences with unique works. Where he once again pushes the limits of artistry and imagination. His medium has moved from ice and blades but his passion remains unwavering.
Toller, we are here today to honor you, and thank you. Skate Canada is proud to count you as one of our valued alumni. You represent the passion, spirit and triumph of our sport.
“Life is indeed about cycles, in skating we have circles.” As the Olympic rings link, nation to nation Toller’s legacy links us to the future of our sport. Circles have no beginnings and no endings, just as your contributions to the sport have been.
With deep gratitude here tonight we bring your circle into the next cycle of figure skating.
Ladies and Gentlemen – Toller Cranston!