O Canada! Favorite Son Browning Joins Discover Tour '97
||The Tulsa World|
||January 26, 1997|
||John A. Ferguson|
Copyright 1997 The Tulsa World
Kurt Browning, Canada's four-time World figure skating champion, is
looking forward to his Tulsa visit with the Discover Stars on Ice Monday
There's good reason, too. The 30-year-old son of a Caroline,
Alberta, cowboy will have his parents (Dewey and Neva) and brother,
Wade, in the audience at the Tulsa Convention Center Arena.
A 60-city tour, which concludes in the Cumberland County Civic
Center in Portland, Maine, March 29, is the major reason Browning's
family has to plan reunions along the way.
While Sonia, Browning's bride of six months, won't be here, she
will be in his thoughts.
"I've planned my program around a medley of Nate 'King' Cole music,'
said Browning in an interview from San Francisco. 'It's my gift for my
wife.' Browning's parents raise cattle in the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains near Caroline, population 294. His dad also guides pack trips
into the picturesque Alberta countryside.
Young Browning wasn't destined to be a cowboy. Instead, just as any
other red-blooded Canadian, he grew up playing hockey.
"Isn't that what you're supposed to do as a Canadian," Browning
However, when a choice between hockey and figure skating had to be
made, Browning made the right choice. And he credited the tour with
giving him the freedom to express himself on the ice as a professional.
"It's a different kind of pressure from amateur competition," said
Browning. "The fans expect you to skate to the level of your proficiency
every night. We're fortunate, because we get paid for something we love
to do. And everybody is wanting our autographs at the end of a
performance. That doesn't happen when you leave the office at the end
of an 8-to-5 day."
Browning felt his first exposure to fame and distinction came when
he turned a quadruple jump into a winning at the 1988 World
Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
"That turned my career around," Browning recalled.
At Halifax in 1990 -- before a crowd of his countrymen -- he doubled
his triple axel in a short program and landed another triple axel with
two seconds left to win his second World Championship.
While he had the crowning touch at the world level, he didn't enjoy
such success in the Olympics in 1988, 1992 and 1994. In his debut, he
finished eighth in Calgary, Alberta.
"I was injured in 1992 at Albertville (France), and shouldn't have
competed," said Browning.
Instead, he made a valiant effort and finished sixth.
But it was his performance at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, that is
forever etched in Browning's memory.
"When I was warming up, I knew I had more negatives than positives.
I lacked concentration and made some bad decisions," Browning said. "It
was awful, and I came in fifth."
Yet after that inauspicious performance, he received 2,000 faxes the
next day from fellow Canadians expressing their love and concern for
That response gave Browning the boost to go on -- and go on he did, making
three television specials in which he recreating Gene Kelly's "Singing in
the Rain" on ice, and assumed the roles of a Philip Marlowe-style
detective, a sexy rock star, a classically-trained dancer and a vaudeville
entertainer in "You Must Remember This."
His first TV special, entitled "Tall in the Saddle," also
featured outdoor scenes from his native Alberta.
The Discover Card Stars on Ice group is a family on tour for Browning.
Browning speaks of Paul Wylie like a brother.
"Ever since he won the silver at Albertville, he has become a
Wonder Boy in interpretation on the ice," said Browning. "He was
the right person at the right time."
Browning, in his "snake" routine, demonstrated a dramatic new style
of movement at a professional competition at Ottawa (Ontario) Canada.
"That was a little scary, because I didn't know how the judges would
react," said Browning.
The judges approved.
Browning, who has developed into one of the best entertainers the
sport has produced, credited his success as a professional to "growing
up and gaining confidence."
And Browning tempers all this talent with a sense of humor. He
cites as an accomplishment he would be most proud of: "Thinking I'll be
able to do a triple jump at the age of 65."
The Discover Card Stars on Ice, comprised of champions, is like "a
big family" to Browning.
"I like to build up momentum on the tour. Unlike baseball, there's
no room for a no-hitter on the ice," said Browning. "That's why we need
to stay away from injuries. I like to think of Kristy's (Yamaguchi)
remark, 'We need to skate up to our names and levels. "' Browning, will
be joined on the ice at the Tulsa show by such skating luminaries as
former Olympic champions in Scott Hamilton of the United States and
Great Britain's dance team of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and
silver medalist Rosalynn Sumners, who rose to fame at the 1984 Olympic
at Sarajevo -- before Yugoslavia became a divided warring country.
Jill Trenary, 1990 World Champion and wife of Dean, is skating
despite an inflammed tendon.