Skater McPherson dead at 56

The Canadian figure skating community has lost one of its most overlooked champions.

Donald McPherson, a former world champion, died of complications arising from diabetes over the weekend.

The native of Stratford, Ont., passed away at his home in Munich, Germany, at age 56.

McPherson was crowned world champion at Cortina, Italy in 1963 but, all too often, skated in the shadow of Donald Jackson.

McPherson turned 18 the week of the worlds and, to this day, remains youngest world champion in men's singles.

Even so, Jackson earned all the accolades because he landed the first triple jump in competition one year earlier -- a triple Lutz which guaranteed him the 1962 world title and figure skating immortality.

McPherson finished fourth.

"All everybody could think about was Donald Jackson," said Ellen Burka, the noted Hall of Fame coach.

According to Burka, McPherson became Canada's "lost world champion," because everyone was "so hepped up about Donald Jackson. When somebody won another world championship, nobody cared."

McPherson first gained public notice by winning the national junior title in 1959 followed by a 10th-place finish at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.

He turned pro immediately after the 1963 worlds and spent 11 years with Holiday on Ice in Europe.

McPherson also won the World Professional title in 1965.

"He had fabulous footwork," Burka recalled. "I taught that footwork to all my skaters through all the years.

"I called this footwork, the 'Donald McPherson footwork.' I still teach it.

"He had an interesting step that nobody had done before."

McPherson was inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1996.