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Glide time

Champion skater Kurt Browning discusses ‘Stars on Ice’

Source: Go! Magazine (Wenatchee, WA)
Date: February 23, 2011
Author: Abby Holmes
If you go

What: "Smucker's Stars on Ice"

Where: Town Toyota Center, 1300 Walla Walla Ave., Wenatchee

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $29-$104

Tickets and information: 1-866-973-9611 or towntoyotacenter.com

On the Web: starsonice.com

There is life after the Olympics, and that life is called "Stars on Ice."

Currently sponsored by the J.M. Smucker Co., the figure skating production was established by Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton in 1986. For its 25th anniversary tour, the traveling ice show makes its debut Wenatchee appearance on the Town Toyota Center rink Sunday.

A cast of ice skating champions perform an afternoon of individual and ensemble routines. Among them are Olympic gold medalists Evan Lysacek, Jamie Sale, David Pelletier, Ekaterina Gordeeva; silver medalists Sasha Cohen, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto; bronze medalists Joannie Rochette and Michael Weiss; and World Champion skaters Todd Eldredge and Kurt Browning.

Browning is a four-time World Champion and four-time Canadian National Champion. He has been a part of "Stars on Ice" for about 20 years. He took some time to speak with Go! Magazine about the show, his experience as a skater and what an athlete's future holds.

Go! Magazine: How long have you been doing "Stars on Ice"?

Kurt Browning: I competed until 1994. After that, I hadn't done any competition on what we call an amateur basis, which would mean that I was representing my country, but I have competed as a professional for years after that. Until about the year 2000, I was still competing, in a sense. Just not the Olympic sense. I've been basically doing "Stars on Ice" for two decades now, in some form or another.

Go!: How did you become involved in the show?

Browning: I went to Buffalo to see a "Stars on Ice" show, and I remember Scott Hamilton's solo, where he had a radio and the radio had sad songs and he was skating because a girl broke up with him or something, and I also remember his footwork sequence from his other solo, and I don't remember really anything else from the show except those two things that Scott did. I can easily say that I was very motivated by the potential of joining Scott Hamilton and being a part of that cast. That was a long time ago, but I'm very lucky to say that it worked out for me.

It always is changing, the landscape of the market and figure skating and the popularity of it and all that stuff. But it certainly is something that's been a big part of my life. Like my father would say, "You get to do what you did as a kid for fun as an adult." Basically I'm doing what I wanna do and making a living at it.

Go!: How did you begin skating?

Browning: I grew up in a really small town. All the kids skated, and I just sort of never really quit figure skating when all the other guys were putting their energy toward hockey. I still continued to play hockey, but I saw no reason to quit figure skating, and I'm glad I didn't. It was socially so much fun, physically challenging; I loved the musicality of it, and I loved the dancing. I just didn't know it, but I'm an old-fashioned, song-and-dance man, I just can't sing.

Go!: Do you continue to live in Canada?

Browning: I'm still living in the Toronto area, and I have two sons with my wife. She's a ballerina and I'm a skater, and we're both just wondering how many more years we can get out of our bodies before the warranty gives out. Unfortunately, some performers like singers, comedians or whatever, you can certainly have a much longer career. But when you rely on your knees and your back and your flexibility and your strength to do what it is you do, there's a time limit.

Go!: What do you plan to do once you're through with skating?

Browning: I've initiated a job with CBC, which is a Canadian network, and I work with them covering figure skating. That is something that I hope will last longer, like Scott Hamilton does for NBC. It will keep me a part of the sport that I love so much. I'll be honest. I didn't expect to be a full member of the cast of "Stars on Ice" ever again, but because this is the 25th anniversary, which is an incredible milestone for any traveling show, they invited me back to be a full cast member, to pay an acknowledgment to my history of being a member of "Stars on Ice."

Go!: What can people expect from the show?

Browning: The show's theme is just about the 25 years, just the evolution of the sport. Basically it's good old-fashioned stars on ice, with great group numbers where the friendships of the skaters get to come through. We're gonna showcase Sasha Cohen and Evan Lysacek, who, of course, just got us a shiny new gold medal at the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. We're just going to really have a great time. We've got wonderful individual efforts from Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, and we do a really fun group number with Todd Eldredge and myself and Sasha Cohen — just the three of us, but it's really charming.

I think we've got one of the best casts we've had in a very long time. We have an amazingly talented cast, and a cast that likes each other. We're very proud of the show and the tour sponsor. We have a wonderful relationship with charity. A portion of the proceeds go to Boys and Girls Clubs (of America).

Go!: What will the music be like?

Browning: The music is an eclectic group of everything, really. We jump the radio station to radio station to radio station. You know those people who touch all the buttons? That's what the show does. Personally, I'm skating to "Steppin' Out" and I'm going really far back in time to the '70s to Supertramp. It's a song I've been wanting to skate to since 1980. Here I am finally realizing that you never know when the career's gonna end, so I'm skating to that song. It's kind of a gift to myself.