What makes the stars shine?
(Chrysler Stars on Ice; special advertising supplement)
||Chatelaine, v70 n3 p128(1).|
||Canada's favorite skating stars Kurt Browning, Brian Orser, and Josee Chouinard attribute their success to ambition, determination and love of skating. They also cite the positive impact of close family relationships.|
Full Text COPYRIGHT 1997 Maclean Hunter Ltd. (Canada)
They're talented, they're determined, they're great performers...and they
love what they do!
Four-time world champion Kurt Browning easily admits he "never dreamed of
becoming world champion until just a month or two before I won the title."
Brian Orser, two-time Olympic silver medalist, describes his rise to the top
of the skating world as something that "just kind of happened by itself." And
two-time Olympic bronze medalist Isabelle Brasseur, who recently received a
degree in business, started college with the notion that it was "something to
fall back on if skating didn't work out."
It's easy to forget that only a few short years ago, these were just
ordinary Canadian kids - kids who have since grown up to become extraordinary
By nature, they all have their differences. For example, Browning,
three-time Canadian champion Josee Chouinard and two-time Olympic bronze
medalist Lloyd Eisler were always very outgoing as kids. Orser and Brasseur,
on the other hand, were extremely timid as children. "I was so shy, it was
difficult being around large groups of kids at school. Skating was easier,
I've never felt shy on the ice," says Brasseur.
On the whole, though, there are some very strong similarities. When the
skaters describe themselves, and when others speak about them, the same words
crop up over and over again; words like "determined," "resolute,"
"hard-working," "inspired," "energetic" and "gifted." And they're achievers -
even as kids in school, the Chrysler Stars On Ice skaters were determined to
be on top. "Kurt was an excellent student. He could have been at the top of
his class if he hadn't been so busy skating," says Browning's sister, Dena
While most of the skaters were naturally bright students, they were also
very hardworking. Eisler did a lot of his homework in the car, as did Orser. "I
hated being behind everyone when I was skating a lot. I would do extra work to
try and stay one step ahead," says Orser. Orser's sister, Mary Kay Melnyk,
says proudly, "He's a gentle guy, even humble about his success. But he's
tough when he has to be. He was like that about school, and about his
Chouinard says that all the skaters have close relationships with their
families. Many of them grew up with very hard-working parents, who set a good
example and motivated them to skate. "My father died when I was 12, and my
mother was determined that my brother and I would not have to change our life
style. She worked very hard to make sure I could continue skating," says
Chouinard. Brasseur attributes much of her success to her deceased father, who
encouraged her every step of the way. And Browning's family traveled the
world, supporting him at competitions. His mother, Neva Browning, recalls, "We
just told him to take one day at a time. We never had great expectations for
him, because we didn't want to burden him. We'd just tell him to do the best
Of course, the stars are outstanding skaters and remarkable performers, but
these talents developed over time. Most started out simply as good skaters
with exceptional drive, ambition and love of skating. Michael Jiranek, who
coached Browning early in the skater's career in Edmonton, says, "Kurt was
like many other young skaters, talent-wise. But he loved to skate, loved to
compete and, as a result, was successful." The extraordinary ability, Jiranek
explains, came later on. Louis Stong, who coached Browning and Chouinard
during their later amateur years, explains that their talent has grown as they
have matured, both as skaters and people.
Not surprising, most of the skaters plan to continue working in the
profession long after they stop competing and performing, by coaching and
commentating for television. Lloyd Eisler is busy working in the business side
of skating. "I'm very involved in the marketing, advertising and production
sides of skating and sports. All the years of competition, discipline and
dedication have helped me realize that you don't get things handed to you on
a silver platter. You have to work for them. But it also means that your
potential is unlimited."
And this kind of dedication pretty much sums up the career of a skating
superstar. Doug Leigh, Orser's coach, says it best: "The skating stars are all
great athletes, with a tremendous will to win. They believe in themselves and
what they are capable of doing. They have the ability to go out there and
perform." Most important, they will all admit this one very important fact:
they love every minute of it!