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Erle Reiter, who competed in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany as a figure skater, would tell you his Olympics were much different than the games seen on TV in recent years.

Reiter sailed an ocean liner to Europe, skating competitions were held outside in snowstorms and prescribed figures were most important in the judging.

A businessman and sailor later in life, Reiter died of cancer Dec. 3 in Bloomington at 91.

He had qualified for the games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen not long after graduating from West High School in Minneapolis, earning the first of his three silver medals in the U.S. national competition.

When Reiter was 7 years old his interest had been inspired by an ice show, and his father flooded their back yard in the Linden Hills neighborhood so he could practice skating.

By 12, he had skated in an exhibition in a Minneapolis show that featured figure skating champion Sonja Henie.

At the time, "men skated to marching music," he later told his family.

Reiter had a congenital eye problem, so the snowstorms at the outdoor Olympic rink made it difficult for him to see.

"He said he was very nervous skating there. He was only 19," said his son Bruce of Edina.

Adding to the tension, German Army troops patrolled the venue, and the Nazis demanded that competitors give the Nazi salute to Adolf Hitler, who presided over the games.

"The Americans and others refused," Bruce Reiter said.

He finished 13th in the Games. On the way home aboard a ship, he and others were entertained by Henie, who had won her third Olympic gold medal for women's singles figure skating.

After a few years, he turned professional, with a regular gig at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. There he was a pioneer of the sit spin, said his son.

"He loved the Olympics, and he followed all the current skaters," said his son. "He skated pretty actively until his early 80s."

During World War II, he started as a tank driver at Fort Knox, Ky., but his poor eyesight landed him in a desk job, where he rose to sergeant.

After the war, he went to work at his father's firm, Reiter's Sales, representing manufacturers of electrical appliances. He took over the business in the 1950s.

He sailed on Lake Calhoun as a youth, and his relatives helped start the lake's yacht club in 1901. He served as the Calhoun Yacht Club's commodore in 1959.

He retired when he was 65 and continued to sail on Lake Calhoun and Lake Minnetonka until he was 89.

In retirement, he also was a runner, competing in 5K and 10K races.

In addition to Bruce, he is survived by his wife of 65 years, Helen, of Minneapolis; son Gary of Edina, and two grandchildren

Services have been held.