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Browning replaces Hamilton on skating tour

Source: USA Today
Date: December 27, 2001
Author: Amy Rosewater

Not long after Scott Hamilton captured the Olympic gold medal in 1984, he wanted to start his own skating tour. The notion back then was that a male skater couldn't headline a figure skating tour. He had a better chance, some thought, of skating with the Smurfs.

But the charismatic Hamilton proved everyone wrong making his Stars on Ice a nationwide success.

This year, now that Hamilton has retired, the question was who would take his place?

Hamilton is not easily replaceable but Canada's four-time world champion Kurt Browning is ready for the job. One of Hamilton's longtime friends who possesses similar showmanship on the ice, Browning will have the unenviable task of filling in Hamilton's skates when the 61-city tour kicks off in Baltimore on Friday. This is the 16th season of the tour.

"I got the job by forfeit," Browning says, laughing. "I am the shortest and the baldest."

Browning actually has to chuckle when asked about being the tour's new leading man. In actuality, the tour has spent more time promoting three of its female stars - Olympic gold medalists Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi and Katarina Witt.

"It's all about the girls now, not the guys," Browning says. "The show was anchored by Scott so strongly for so many years. He created the male superstar skater but now the men are more of the supporting cast."

Even without Hamilton, the show will continue to focus on innovative group numbers. The cast also features Ilia Kulik, who won the 1998 Olympic gold medal, three-time national pairs champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand and Olympic ice dancers Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov.

And although Hamilton won't be skating, his presence won't be far away. Fans will hear his voice introducing skaters on the tour.

"We'll make sure to keep the essence of what Scott put into the tour," Browning says. "We will miss him but we'll carry his torch."