Maria and her brother Otto were a competitive figure skating duo who represented Canada at world championships and Olympic games.
Figure skating has captured people's imaginations. It's a sport that is almost made for television. You can capture the artistry and athleticism of it up close. In a football game, you don't see their faces. Figure skating is big-league.
In 1947, four dozen Ottawa friends raised enough money to send Barbara Ann Scott, her mother, and coach to the European championships in Davos, Switzerland and the World championships in Stockholm, Sweden. She won both, and then repeated the back-to-back wins again in 1948. That same year at the Olympics in St. Moritz, 19 year-old Scott won Canada's first ever gold medal in singles figure skating.
At the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics in California, Toronto natives Robert Paul and Barbara Wagner arrived at the Games with four world titles under their belts. The pair prevailed and became the first North American pair ever to win an Olympic gold medal.
While a gold medal and a world championship are not listed in Toller Cranston's biography, his influence on men's figure skating is incalculable. No story better explains this than when he was selected by Holiday on Ice to be the star of their Paris show. Described as “a skater with a painter's eye,” Cranston was asked to design the poster for the show. To his shock, his poster was splashed in cities across Europe, on colossal 12 by 12-metre billboards. There, aptly larger than life along with his painting and his name were the words Patineur du Siècle – the Skater of the Century. It was a monumental tribute to someone who has been a monumental influence on the figure skating world.
They are Footprints on the ice of Canadian sport.