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aftershocks
11-08-2010, 08:05 AM
Toller Cranston OMG ... Truly one of a kind.

http://video.calgarysun.ca/video/sports/sports/5745372001/figure-skating-icon-toller-cranston-in-the-grill-room/661890775001

This interview is not only hilarious, it's thought-provoking. Saw this link in the Battle of the Blades thread in GSD, but this interview seems to deserve it's own thread.

Highlights by Toller:

Opening comeback to the interviewer... "I don't think I can compete with your voice." Then Toller softpedals that astute comment ... "Your voice is very professional." :lol:

About having to perform figures in the good old days...
"You had to be like a human compass doing geometry... Only the retarded were good at it." :hat1: :lol: But, but Toller, figures is the reason why the older generation of skaters knew how to use their edges. Well, maybe there's an in-between way to learn proper edge technique without having to be a human compass. :P Anyhoo, the judges only used that portion of the competition to manipulate scores.

Quoting Sylvia Sweeney, a former Olympic volleyballer:
"'Olympic greatness only really scores points if you use it as a stepping stone to do something else, and better.'" According to Toller, "The high point is the orgasm of standing on top of that podium... then everything goes down from that point."
ITA with this assessment. Winning is a dream, but you have to know how to come back from winning ... and losing. A good example... Michelle Kwan did not win, twice, but she competed and she touched the audience with that unforgettable exhibition in 2002. Then she learned how to come back from disappointing loss, move on and do something different... Whether or not better, she's certainly growing as a person and giving back. I think for some skaters, they do have joy in giving back by teaching, but I guess what Toller means is that if you have nothing else to fall back on, and no other talents beyond skating, and you end up teaching out of necessity rather than desire, then that's not so great. Actually, for athletes and dancers alike, there is no future in what you're doing ... so you have to be prepared to do something else.

Toller admits: "I didn't enjoy the sport at all... a la Andre Agassi, in his book." BTW, I've read Toller's books, and I think they are must-reads for skating fans. As Toller goes on to say, it's really the politics that he found so detrimental and discouraging and unlikeable. "The act of skating was a huge and great pleasure... It's the closest thing to flying."

These are gems:

"The skating world and the politics that are still rife within that world make the whole thing very unpleasant."

"Figure skating is theater of the absurd."

Regarding the effect of the new scoring system on skaters' programs:
"Everything is over-produced and generic."

"Watching the 2010 Olympic Men's free skating was like ripping a scab off a wound." Ohhhh Toller. :( You guys really have to read Toller's books to get the full understanding of this statement, and feel the pain behind it.

Toller apparently doesn't watch much figure skating these days and he seems kind of removed from fs world ... kind of kicking and screaming being brought back into it... likely due to all the emotions and experiences he went through, as described in his books. His comments on Elvis, Lysacek, Weir and Plushenko are fascinating. Wish he'd commented on Takahashi too. Toller probably keeps up more with what's going on with Canadian skaters.

Toller said he was happy for Lysacek when he won, and he was upset about Elvis' commments afterward (this not in the interview but quoted in a related Toronto Sun article). However, Toller had this to say about Lysacek's performance: "He was like a cat hanging on a tin roof... I didn't enjoy watching. He was under great tension."

On Plushenko's performance: "In the first minute, I thought he'd won...it was great skating. But then he too became like a cat hanging on a tin roof.. At the end, he melted into a Chippendale boy. I thought something is wrong here, because it's not Olympic."

On Johnny Weir (who it seems Toller has not seen much of his skating, nor that of most skaters from this recent generation for that matter): "The problem that bothered me the most was the other American boy who wore the crown of roses..." long pause here... "and who everyone knows is a raving homosexual... He skated well, skated clean... and dropped from 5th to 7th by skating cleanly." Actually Johnny went from 6th to 6th, with two beautifully skated and technically proficient programs. Johnny's results were pure politics, and the spectacle probably brought up bad memories for Toller.

I don't think Toller was being mean when he referred to Johnny as "a raving homosexual." Perhaps it was a kind of reflection that might not be readily understood ... Toller was perhaps reflecting that being "a raving homosexual" is not acceptable in fs... "as everyone knows." Even though it might seem as if Toller was being derogatory. Again, read Toller's books... he details his own love affairs, so if he is not himself out as a homosexual, he may at the least be bisexual. None of this matters truthfully, or should, as like Johnny has said... "Who I sleep with doesn't define me." Unfortunately, in the world of figure skating, you must project "manliness" and at the least publicly exhibit a "generic" facade ... and don't respond to interviewers who ask you questions about being gay in the sport of figure skating. That is, unless you are John Curry with Olympic gold medal in hand at press conference.

caseyedwards
11-08-2010, 09:16 AM
whoa - bluntness ! Interesting all around. ""Raving homosexual"? Maybe that's too far and can be misconstrued as homophobic

aftershocks
11-08-2010, 09:47 AM
Yep, but I interpret Toller's comment about Johnny a bit differently ... having read Toller's books. Everyone knows that years ago in the skating world, it was even more crucial to behave manly, or at least generically, and/ or pretend to have a girlfriend (figure skating in many ways is perhaps worse than the culture at large in this respect, especially today).

Toller was also referred to in his day, as being "flamboyant." That term is so limiting and full of weird connotations. I don't think it was so much being considered "flamboyant" that hurt Toller. It was just being different and bringing something fresh and new to skating that the staid PTB weren't open to and held against him --- plus all the unpleasant politics in general that determined scoring. Toller even had the audacity as a competitor to speak harshly to a Canadian judge on one occasion, as described in his book.

CynicElle
11-08-2010, 01:31 PM
Wow -- can't watch the video at work, but sure sounds like there's something in there to piss off just about everyone. :lol: Never change, Toller!

igniculus
11-08-2010, 05:55 PM
Given how Johnny dresses recently in public, I don't see any problem with Toller's choice of word ("raving ~"). He's free to wear whatever horror he wants to, others are free to vomit in disgust. :blah:

floskate
11-08-2010, 06:00 PM
Yep, but I interpret Toller's comment about Johnny a bit differently ... having read Toller's books. Everyone knows that years ago in the skating world, it was even more crucial to behave manly, or at least generically, and/ or pretend to have a girlfriend (figure skating in many ways is perhaps worse than the culture at large in this respect, especially today).

Toller was also referred to in his day, as being "flamboyant." That term is so limiting and full of weird connotations. I don't think it was so much being considered "flamboyant" that hurt Toller. It was just being different and bringing something fresh and new to skating that the staid PTB weren't open to and held against him --- plus all the unpleasant politics in general that determined scoring. Toller even had the audacity as a competitor to speak harshly to a Canadian judge on one occasion, as described in his book.

These PTB would also be the ones who awarded him 1st in free skating at two world championships (1972, 1974) and 1st in the short program at Worlds in 1973, 1974 and 1976? :lol: Toller was punished for his poor figures, that is all. He could perhaps have been propped up more in figures to give him more of a chance as his haul of 1 world bronze and 1 Olympic bronze is in no way a clear indicator of his impact on Figure Skating.

The fact is that he got the artistic marks way earlier than many assume, certainly before John did (and you could argue that John never did. He was completely robbed at 1973 Worlds of bronze and 1975 Europeans of the title.) Toller was raking in the 5.9's internationally as early as 1972 when he won the free at Worlds for the first time. In Bratislava in '73 Toller skated horribly in the LP, falling on his only triple (sal), popping or doubling others and generally skating well below par. (We can thank Ondrej Nepela for that one :rofl:) However he placed 5th in the free and got quite a few 5.9's while John skated flawlessly landing triple sal and loop, got one 5.9 for artistic as well as a raft of 5.6's and wound up 7th in the free - go figure.

I adore Toller and will be forever thankful for his not giving a damn and skating the way he wanted to skate rather than adhering to the norm of the day. But his perceived persecution by the judges is somewhat overblown at times ;)

ETA: I wouldn't ever think Toller was homophobic in anything he said. He's candid enough about his own sexual proclivities in his books to know that this would be somewhat hypocritical of him!

casken
11-09-2010, 02:07 AM
I get where Toller was coming from - he's basically laying out there how Johnny is viewed by many heteros (and some non heteros too), and how that might affect how he is scored.

I tend the to think "raving homosexual" would be a compliment coming from Toller.

I would certainly take it as one. :D

flowerpower
11-09-2010, 02:34 AM
[QUOTE=floskate;2938130] In Bratislava in '73 Toller skated horribly in the LP, falling on his only triple (sal), popping or doubling others and generally skating well below par. (We can thank Ondrej Nepela for that one :rofl:) QUOTE]

Yes, his story about Nepela was interesting, to say the least! Makes me want to re-read Toller's books...

Rex
11-09-2010, 03:00 AM
He wouldn't want to live in the same town as Stojko! :rofl: I love Toller.

REO
11-09-2010, 04:22 AM
Given how Johnny dresses recently in public, I don't see any problem with Toller's choice of word ("raving ~"). He's free to wear whatever horror he wants to, others are free to vomit in disgust. :blah:

His clothes just bug the hell out of you don't they? :lol:

igniculus
11-09-2010, 06:25 AM
His clothes just bug the hell out of you don't they? :lol:

They do. :saint: I miss those days where he was able to dress up decently.

aftershocks
11-09-2010, 11:54 PM
These PTB would also be the ones who awarded him 1st in free skating at two world championships (1972, 1974) and 1st in the short program at Worlds in 1973, 1974 and 1976? :lol: Toller was punished for his poor figures, that is all. ... I adore Toller and will be forever thankful for his not giving a damn and skating the way he wanted to skate rather than adhering to the norm of the day. But his perceived persecution by the judges is somewhat overblown at times ;)

I get what you're saying floskate, and it would be interesting to debate this with you because I have a slightly different take based on what I've read and from viewing old fs clips. I also remember seeing Toller skate at the Olympics many years ago, but I was too young to understand everything about figure skating then. I just remember loving watching Toller skate, and wondering why he came in third. Of course John deserved to win gold -- he was absolutely fabulous. There is an interesting story in Toller's book, Ice Cream, about his feelings toward John (of which he has often admitted John deserved to win the Olympics). It's also interesting that Carlo Fassi wanted to coach Toller, who refused because he was committed to his long time coach. Fassi later became John's coach. I definitely feel that John Curry was influenced (like many skaters) by Toller's skating. John was likely inspired by Toller, but also, of course, brought his own unique artistic qualities to the ice and thus soared in 1976.

[BTW, probably not exactly the same PTB as now... but maybe so... those old dyed in the wool ISU officials and judges from early last century thinking. :P In any case, Toller may have won firsts a lot in long programs, but not first place overall. I realize that figures was a factor, but then again, we couldn't see his figures, only the judges, who are notorious for using figures to place skaters where they wanted them to be going into the free skating. Regarding John, I think when he began working with Carlo, he rose in popularity with the judges. Carlo as we all know is an important figure in figure skating :) Carlo deserves a well-written biography.]


ETA: I wouldn't ever think Toller was homophobic in anything he said. He's candid enough about his own sexual proclivities in his books to know that this would be somewhat hypocritical of him!


I get where Toller was coming from - he's basically laying out there how Johnny is viewed by many heteros (and some non heteros too), and how that might affect how he is scored. I tend to think "raving homosexual" would be a compliment coming from Toller.
I would certainly take it as one. :D

ITA casken and floskate! :respec:

Watch the long pause Toller takes before he refers to Johnny... I think Toller is actually saying, To be a homosexual in fs is okay if you stay below the radar. But to be considered a "raving homosexual" in fs is totally frowned upon, and you pay a price.



... :saint: I miss those days where he was able to dress up decently.

:lol: What days were those, btw? And, what is your definition of "dress up decently" in general, and regarding Johnny in particular?

REO
11-10-2010, 04:22 AM
Well I thought he looked very cute tonight at the Kardashian party. Hair and outfit were very flattering.

Figga
11-10-2010, 08:54 AM
He sure put Stojko in his place.. interesting interview.

Ozzisk8tr
11-10-2010, 11:41 AM
Well as someone who was a huge Toller fan, my level of respect for him has gone down lots (not that he would lose sleep over it). I thought he came across as a bitter old queen regarding his competing, figures and the rest. I also hated the fact that he said he is "embarrassed" to be a figure skater. If he's that embarrassed don't do interviews and ignore rquests that have anything to do with the sport. I feel disappointed myself because someone I admired from a far has just shown me a side of them I didn't really know existed. (I haven't read any of his books, just loved his skating and thought of him as a ground breaker in the sport). Okay, my rant is over. Time for a cocktail.
Oh, loved the comments on Stoijko.