Yagudin looking forward to 'dessert'
||May 9, 2002|
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Stars On Ice
7:30 p.m., Friday
Although he is only 22 years old, Alexei Yagudin has nearly two
decades of competitive figure skating behind him and it has been a
career that has rewarded him handsomely: three European titles, three
world championships, and that gold medal-winning performance at the
Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City last February.
"That's where it all paid off, being on the podium and listening
to the Russian national anthem," says Yagudin, who took up the sport
at the age of four at his mother's suggestion. "She knew I was
interested in athletics, and that competition appealed to me. Figure
skating was popular, so I joined.
"It's a really difficult thing," he adds. "But the whole season
went exactly as I wanted it to. It's very hard physically. It's very
hard emotionally. But now everything is over.
"Eighteen years have suddenly disappeared. For me, the competitive
season was like a dinner. Now it's time for dessert."
By that, he means the touring Stars On Ice show, which pays a
visit to the Agridome on Friday night with a cast that features
(besides Yagudin) Kurt Browning, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brian Orser, Todd
Eldredge and Lucinda Ruh as well as Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd
Eisler, Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, and Jenni Meno and Todd
The camaraderie among performers is one of several things that
make this an enjoyable experience for Yagudin. He finds skating in ice
shows every bit as physically demanding as competitive skating, but
not nearly as demanding emotionally.
"The cast is close. Everyone gets along. That's what makes it so
much fun," Yagudin says. "This is also a great opportunity to learn
from the other skaters, things like presentation and how to work an
Browning understands what Yagudin is going through in terms of the
transition from competitive skating to ice shows. He himself made that
adjustment back in 1994. When Browning turned professional, there was
an "unknown" named Scott Hamilton, with whom he would sit down and
"My problem was that I tried to compete every night, and I also
tried to do a show. It didn't always work out very well," the
32-year-old Browning says.
"This is a tough way to make a living -- but somebody's got to do
it," he adds with a laugh, and then goes on to point out that skating
in ice shows does in fact make emotional demands as well as the
obvious physical ones.
Although the judges are no longer there, there is still an
audience every night. A self-described perfectionist, Browning doesn't
like to ever make mistakes. He is determined to skate his very best,
at the highest level possible, in every show.
"When it's good, it's good," he says. "When it's bad, it affects
A four-time Canadian and world champion, Browning now looks back
on his competitive career as having been "boring, almost. I won often
enough to enjoy it and lost often enough to learn what that was about,
too," he says.
Browning believes the transition from competitive skating to ice
shows is easier these days because the young skaters are much
tougher. He mentions Yagudin as an example. "Alexei is much more of a
skater and a performer than I was when I was an amateur," Browning
And, like Yagudin, Browning sees the chemistry among cast members
as a significant reason for the show's success. "The closeness is
emotional, so it raises the engery level," he says.
There is also the fact that Yamaguchi has rejoined the Canadian
tour after an absence of several years, and in all likelihood, it will
be her final tour. Says Browning: "I think this is a really important
tour for the skaters personally."