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Figure Skating Champion Christopher Bowman


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Figure Skating Champion Christopher Bowman

by Denise Petski

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Christopher Bowman at the 1992 Olympics

LOS ANGELES, California -- Christopher Bowman, the former U.S. Figure Skating Champion dubbed "Bowman the Showman" for his flair on the ice, died Thursday, January 10 of a possible drug overdose, authorities said. He was 40.

Bowman was pronounced dead at 12:06 p.m., said Coroner's Lt. Joe Bale, who wasn't immediately able to provide more details about the possible drug overdose. Bowman's body was found at a motel in the North Hills section of Los Angeles, and an autopsy was planned for this weekend, Bale said.

"He just passed away in his sleep," Bowman's mother, Joyce, told the Detroit Free Press, which first reported details of his death. "His friend told me that he was fine. He just went to bed and didn't wake up."

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Christopher Bowman

Bowman, a former child actor, was one of figure skating's bigger personalities in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Immensely talented, with a gift for performance that few others could match, he won the U.S. men's figure skating titles in 1989 and 1992, and was runner-up in 1987 and 1991.

He also won a silver medal at the 1989 world championships, and a bronze the next year. He skated in the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, finishing seventh in 1988 and fourth in 1992.

"If I had to pick the three most talented skaters of all time, I would pick Christopher as one," Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic champion, told the Chicago Tribune . "He had natural charisma, natural athleticism, he could turn on a crowd in a matter of seconds and he always seemed so relaxed about it."

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Christopher Bowman won the silver medal at the

1989 World Championships

But as talented as he was on the ice, Bowman could be just as big a challenge off it. He bounced from coach to coach long before it became fashionable -- he once won Skate America when he was in-between coaches -- and freely admitted that practice was something that just didn't interest him much.

"Each and every competition that I train for, prepare for, is always a personal challenge for me because, as we all know, the training and discipline between each event is very difficult for me," Bowman said in 1992.

He battled drug problems, and underwent treatment at least twice -- once before the 1988 Olympics and then again after the Albertville Games in 1992.

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Christopher Bowman pleaded no contest to

two misdemeanors involving having a gun

while drunk in Michigan in 2004

He also had run-ins with the law. In November 2004, he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors involving having a gun while drunk in Rochester Hills, Michigan. In 1993, while skating with the Ice Capades, he was beaten at a hotel in a seedy neighborhood in Pittsburgh, according to a police report.

Richard Callaghan, coach of Bowman's longtime rival, Todd Eldredge, said he was saddened to learn of Bowman's death. "When Todd told me, I said, 'What a shame,'" Callaghan told the Free Press. "Christopher was such a nice person. Even though he was troubled, he was very genuine and friendly."

"There was a great rivalry between Christopher and Todd because they were so opposite," Callaghan continued. "Christopher was always on; he was the star when it came to doing any competitions. Most of us didn't know how he did it, but he did."

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Bowman confers with his coach Frank Carroll, at a

practice session for the U.S. National Figure Skating

Championship in 1987.

Born in Hollywood, on March 30, 1967, Bowman had a part in the TV series, "Little House on the Prairie" for one season and appeared in dozens of commercials. He got into coaching after his skating career was finished, and the Free Press said he had lived in the Detroit area from 1995 until last February.

Recently, Bowman had returned to acting. He had a role as an assistant coach in the upcoming Brian J. De Palma-directed movie, "Down and Distance," starring Gary Busey.

Bowman is survived by his mother, Joyce Bowman; former wife, Annette Bowman and their 10-year-old daughter, Bianca, according to the Free Press.

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Update

Figure Skating Champion Christopher Bowman

by Beth Harris

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Christopher Bowman performs as a part of

the Ice Capades in 1992

LOS ANGELES, California -- Christopher Bowman soared to the heights as U.S. Figure Skating Champion. He crashed off the ice, though, ending up dead on the floor of a cheap motel room 1-1/2 months after being arrested for misdemeanor theft.

The 40-year-old skater's death initially was reported as a possible drug overdose, but "we don't have anything that points specifically" to that as the cause, assistant chief Ed Winter of the coroner's office said Friday.

Investigators also were considering Bowman's death on Thursday, January 10 was the result of an accident or natural causes. The two-time Olympian was 6 feet and weighed an estimated 300 pounds.

"There was some prescription medication present" at the scene but no evidence of illegal drugs, Winter said. He didn't know the type or quantity of medication found. An autopsy on Bowman was to be done this weekend.

He battled drug problems, and underwent treatment at least twice -- once before the 1988 Olympics and then again after the Albertville Games in 1992. He was an admitted cocaine addict. The skater was alternately nicknamed "Bowman the Showman" for his flair on the ice and "Hans Brinker from Hell" for his hard partying and lack of discipline in training.

Bowman was one of figure skating's biggest personalities in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Immensely talented, with a gift for performance that few others could match, he won U.S. national titles in 1989 and 1992, and was runner-up in 1987 and 1991.

He also won a silver medal at the 1989 world championships, and a bronze the next year. He was seventh at the 1988 Winter Olympics and finished fourth in the 1992 Games.

Bowman's body was found by a male friend who had shared his $55-a-night (euro37-a-night) room at the Budget Inn in the hardscrabble North Hills area of the San Fernando Valley, police Sgt. Greg Houser said Friday.

Bowman and his friend spent the night in the motel. The friend told police that he awoke the next morning to find Bowman on the floor not breathing, Houser said. He called 911 and paramedics pronounced Bowman dead at the scene shortly after noon Thursday.

Houser said there was no evidence of foul play or illegal narcotics in the room. "Everything seemed to be in order," he said. "There was no indication that there was anything criminal. There wasn't any indication there that there was drug use going on."

The two-story stucco motel along one of the busiest streets in the Valley is one of a half-dozen budget motels in the area, located across from an indoor swap meet, gas station and Hispanic supermarket. Historically, the area has been frequented by gangs and prostitutes.

The motel manager, who declined to give his name, would only say he knew Bowman because the skater had been there before. Houser said Bowman's unidentified friend was distraught at the scene and he cooperated with police.

Bowman had a criminal history and was on probation at the time of his death. The former child actor, whose credits included "Little House on the Prairie" and "Archie Bunker's Place," was arrested on November 23 on a misdemeanor charge of receiving/concealing stolen property.

According to court documents, Bowman was in possession of aluminum siding and pipes that belonged to the city of Los Angeles. He pleaded no conte st and was sentenced on December 14 to seven days in county jail, two years' probation and 15 days of graffiti removal with a highway crew.

In 2005 in Michigan, he was sentenced to 18 months' probation for misdemeanor involving having a gun while drunk. In 1993, while skating with the Ice Capades, he was beaten at a hotel in a seedy neighborhood in Pittsburgh, according to a police report.

Born in Hollywood on March 30, 1967, Bowman got into coaching after retiring from skating in 1992, and the Detroit Free Press said he had lived in the Detroit area from 1995 until last February.

Bowman is survived by his mother, Joyce Bowman; his former wife, Annette Bowman and their 10-year-old daughter, Bianca, according to the Free Press.

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