Toller Cranston OMG ... Truly one of a kind.
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."
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." 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. 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.