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Browning, Gordeeva won skating fans' hearts

Source: Calgary Herald
Date: April 27, 1996
Author: Lori Ewing

Copyright 1996 Southam Inc.

Kurt Browning and Ekaterina Gordeeva. One would be hard-pressed to say which of the two tugged on the heart-strings of Calgary figure skating fans more Friday night.

While the Flames may have burned out in the play-offs, the Canadian Airlines Saddledome was on fire last night, as Browning and Gordeeva headlined a virtual who's who of figure skating in the Chrysler Stars on Ice.

Browning, the four-time world champion from Caroline, Alberta, proved the moment he snuck on to the ice under the darkened spotlights at the Saddledome that he hasn't lost his touch with the crowd.

Decked out from head to toe in white, right down to his sequined skates, Browning brought hoots and hollers, and cheers of 'We Love You Kurt!' from the opening act.

He responded in typical Browning style, mouthing 'You're welcome,' to the delight of the approximately 15,000 skating devotees on hand.

Gordeeva, the show's special guest, brought the knowing skating crowd to tears with a moving tribute -- 'A Celebration of a Life' -- to her late husband Sergei Grinkov.

Together, Grinkov and Gordeeva won four world championships and two Olympic gold medals.

Grinkov died of a heart attack during an on-ice training session last November at the age of 28.

Gordeeva turned her back on skating after her husband's death, but decided to return to the ice last month as a way of dealing with the loss.

Then, of course, there was Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, the popular 1993 world pairs champions, U.S. Olympic gold medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton, two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, and three-time Canadian champion Josee Chouinard.

They certainly were no slouches on blades, not shying away from their trademark spins, jumps and throws.

Friday night's cast was rounded out by Olympic pairs silver medallists Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov from Russia, and Canadian pairs champions Christine Hough and Doug Ladret.

The Chrysler Stars on Ice, a nine-city cross-Canada tour, debuted 10 years ago, when Hamilton had the idea to showcase skating's artistry and athleticism.