Christopher Bowman Remembered at Memorial Service

01/18/2008 at 09:55 AM EST

Christopher Bowman Remembered at Memorial Service
Christopher Bowman, at 1992 Winter Olympics
Chris Cole/Allsport/Getty
Skaters and friends celebrated the life Olympic figure skater Christopher Bowman Thursday during a memorial service at St. Cyril of Jerusalem church in Encino, Calif.

"I loved him like a brother. I'll miss him," a teary Linda Fratianne – an Olympic silver medalist who once trained with Bowman – told the crowd, which included gold medalist Brian Boitano and more than two dozen other national and Olympic skaters.

Known as "Bowman the Showman", the athlete was found dead Jan. 10 in a motel room in North Hills, Calif., a few miles from where he learned to skate. He was 40 years old.

Bowman's former coach, Frank Carroll, shared several amusing stories about the challenge of coaching his talented, but mischievous, protégé. In particular, he recalled one competition in Oberstdorf, Germany, when Bowman tried to sneak a bull into a hotel lobby, dragging it by its horns.

Friends – who later gathered at a reception in nearby Studio City – also remembered Bowman's enormous talent. He skated in two Olympics and won two U.S. titles but he struggled with substance abuse and many felt he could have accomplished more.

"Had he put his nose to the grindstone, he could have been the greatest American male skater of all time," said skating impresario Tom Collins, founder of the Champions on Ice tour.

While the cause of death is unknown pending toxicology teats, County Coroner's officials say Bowman was drinking the night before and consumed Vicodin.

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