Stars skate into Ottawa fans' hearts
||April 14, 1994|
Copyright 1994 Southam Inc.
SunLife Stars on IceThe Ottawa Civic CentreMonday night only
Kurt Browning tried and tried and tried, but try as he might his
Olympic medal dream was nothing more than a five-ring scream.
Missing the Olympic medals three times in a career when you're a
four-time world champion is enough to make you want to snap your skate
laces on purpose.
Well, at least there's professional figure skating, where Browning
can glide on to any ice surface in the world, feel loved, and not have
to fret about doing any required elements, how much the judges will
crucify him for a fall or dealing with the media.
This is where all your dreams come true and others' as well.
Ninety minutes before Browning and a group of world-renowned skaters
gave a SunLife Stars on Ice performance Monday worth remembering, he
made life a lot more special for Almonte's Jennifer Atack.
Watching the show from her hospital stretcher because an extremely
rare form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis prevents her from sitting up,
Atack had a dream come true when she met her hero.
"It was exciting and I learned a lot, Atack, 21, said in her soft
voice. "He is the type of sportsman I thought he would be.
The skater from Caroline, Alta., not only visited Atack for 20
minutes, but he also gave her a program autographed by all the skaters
and brought Olympic skater Josee Chouinard to her bedside.
Browning was outstanding in his two solo numbers at the sold out
Civic Centre. He was the only skater to link to the crowd, and they
responded by cheering every move.
Skating to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Blues Berry Hill , bad-guy
Browning exchanged his hat with an ice-level young boy, and was ready to
draw his imaginary guns on a woman -- until he threw her a kiss.
In his final number before the cast closer, the fun-loving Browning
became a more serious and technical Kurt. He didn't forget his amateur
roots, landing a triple triple-jump combination.
But Browning was not alone as the one-night-only show brought along
a hall of fame cast of skaters who spanned the past two decades.
Brian Orser admitted that the skaters were tired coming into Ottawa
after four shows in four nights and said, "We'll need some help tonight.
The crowd responded with a cheer and never let up, although not all
the skaters could plug into the electricity.
Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler skated a touching tribute to her
father in the first act, accented with numerous extended lifts.
Their second number was upbeat and heart-pounding as they flawlessly
executed numerous death-defying tricks.
Besides Browning, Brasseur and Eisler were the only skaters to
receive authentic standing ovations.
Kristi Yamaguchi was gripping as Juliet and Soviet skaters Elena
Bechke and Denis Petrov, and Natalia Annenko and Genrich Sretenski, who
were only ordinary in their solos, beautifully framed the American's
Toller Cranston is in his early 40s but skates as if he is 20 years
younger. His ballet on ice can still cast a web over his audience.
He made eyes pop when he performed a one-metre-high Russian split
jump from the crouch position. But he tried to do too much in his second
solo and was out of touch with Luciano Pavarotti's Torna a Surriento .
Christine Hough and Doug Ladret were the epitome of high energy as
they moved and grooved in upbeat fashion.
Josee Chouinard was disappointing as she resurrected Olympic and
world championship memories by falling on a triple jump.
Katarina Witt took the crowd back to the Lillehammer Olympics. Her
free-skating tribute to the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics lost some of its edge
because of irritating mistakes, but her Robin Hood number had more zest.
The Olympic Games were to be Browning's final shining moment, but
someone forgot to bring the boot polish. One fall made Browning a medal
watcher rather than winner.
But two months after the Games, Browning was being wildly cheered at
the Civic Centre as a four-time world and national champion. The Olympic
results were OK in the minds of the crowd.
Browning has found his future and it doesn't include a panel of nine
judges but rather an arena of wildly cheering and forgiving fans.