Sports ‘n’ Things: Bell tolls for Toller and Banks

"Lots of losses this past week, even one for the Nitehawks on the road."

Lots of losses this past week, even one for the Nitehawks on the road.

The Smoke Eaters’ crumble from a three-goal lead to an overtime loss, all in about eight minutes, was, as if that was needed anymore, the final rivet in the coffin of this season’s promise.

There are still reasons to attend the games here, and I will be, but among them won’t be faint hope of a playoff spot. The entertainment is good value and the team is a local endeavour – supporting local performers is an enjoyable way to, “shop local,” no matter your choice about where to buy your butter.

The Nitehawks are at home Friday, the Smokies Saturday, and it is worth the minimal effort on good roads to get out to the games – and bring your friends along.

• Bigger losses, and more lasting, are the deaths of Ernie Banks and Toller Cranston.

Banks will remain an icon, and his sunny demeanour and, “Let’s play two,” will be part of the baseball lexicon forever.

The first black player on Chicago’s north side, almost a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier and years after most other teams had succumbed to the idea that good players of whatever background deserved a chance in the major league spotlight, Banks was as good as it gets as an all-round player and brightened the game days for long-suffering Cubs fans by being so excellent on offence and defence,  while comporting himself with dignity and enthusiasm in equal measure.

So much will remain of his contribution that he will never really be gone.

• Toller Cranston had even more impact on his sport, and on Canadians.

People will say he never really won anything, but he created modern skating and, with today’s rules (generated from his appeal as a skater) he would have been a many time world and a couple of time Olympic gold medal winner.

Cranston had a combination of athleticism (google his 1975, “Sabre Dance,” routine) and artistry (then google, “Pagliacci,”) that has yet to be matched – although skaters have been trying for decades.

Figure skating when he arrived on the scene was boring. Most champions were decided, essentially in empty arenas, by the first day’s labourious scratching of figure eights. Cranston was not terrible at it, but was never good enough to catch up with the artisans in the free skate – which he almost always won, but not by enough.

Now, of course, the free skate(s) are all that is judged. Cranston, by whom audiences were enthralled, is the reason for the change.

On top of that he was a pioneer on the athleticism side. Cranston threw so many splits, triple jumps and unique spins into his routines that he also enthralled young skaters, who were said to have been, “Tollerized,” and impelled them, too, to maximize their degrees of difficulty.

Without him, and skating likely needs another like him now, figure skating would not have become the big deal, almost, “must see,” world and Olympic event it was for decades.

Without him, such currently dominant figures as Patrick Chan might still be doing those old, boring, routines nobody watched.

With all that, Toller Cranston was more multi-faceted in his pursuits than almost any other athlete, ever. As a teen he paid for his skating lessons and travel by selling his artwork. As a retired competitor, he maintained a pretty good lifestyle bringing art into both skating tours and galleries.

Unique and groundbreaking, he should be remembered and missed forever. For some, he will be. For those who do not remember and appreciate his impact, probably not so much.

Too bad for those latter, because Cranston created awe and joy unlike almost any other performer in any activity and it is sad they missed it.

Just Posted

Columbia Basin Trust offering business accelerator program

Trust seeking motivated companies for customized support and mentorship program

Trail military exercises provide crucial training

Exercise Sapper Crucible: ‘The nuts and bolts of what a soldier is’

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

Thrums, Riondel, and Slocan, revisited

Place Names: Scottish author delighted by Thrums name origin

Last stand for Silver City summer

Fall officially arrives in Trail at 6:54 p.m. on Saturday

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

Most Read