Stars on Ice
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Kurt Browning's Messages from Asia 2013

Kurt Browning and "trusty travelling companion" Geoffrey Tyler are travelling to Taiwan, China, and Korea this month for the Artistry on Ice and All That Skate tours. They will be sending blog entries and photos from their trip, which will be posted here.* Enjoy! We wish them safe travels!

*Due to time zone differences, the posts will go up as I receive them here in North America, and the dates will reflect when I receive them, not necessarily when they were sent.

Geoffrey Tyler's photos (June 23)

Team BrowningTyler; Korea 2013

Geoffrey, Yuna Kim & Kurt

Geoffrey with the Korean Fantine
"She was amazing!"

Last show (June 22)

You can tell that some of us are happy that today is our last show and that soon they will be going home to loved ones and surroundings more familiar but there are others who do not want this to end ever. Jinseo Kim, an amazing Korean skater, is certainly going to be sad that this adventure is over. His nickname is Jimbo, or Jimbo Jambo, and he has a sense of curiosity about skating and an energy that is contagious. Stephane Lambiel and myself have been forcing lessons on him. When you see a skater who loves it so much and who wants it so much and who works so hard you can't help but reach out to them and help.

Yuna has been very passionate in her performances and laughs easily backstage but never really loses total control. She is Zen.. Calm.. and Tranquil. Everything I am not!!

In the past two shows I have been dancing and goofing around with the 3 flower girls backstage. These 7-8 years olds must think they have stumbled onto the silliest adult in the whole world. We play games with my straw hat and try the choreography of the skaters we see on the monitor backstage.

Today the show will be broadcast LIVE on television. Of course the skaters cannot help but be aware of that. It will be the 2nd show to be televised out of the three.

So, Thank You Yuna for not only inviting me but injecting such love for skating into the population of Korea. She is an inspiration and I wish her all the best. It has been a wonderful trip but now it is time for summer fun.

To quote a song from Les Miserables, but with a slight twist, "One more day till my vacation".

Have A Great Summer Everyone.

Pic rehearsing new solo (June 21)

Kurt's blog from before the first Korea show (June 21)

Korea... land of the screaming giggling skating fans. I am quite sure that no other nation in the world shows as much rabid fan action than they do here. Last time I performed here I was shocked to say the least at what it felt out there at center ice. I was not prepared for the reaction and it sent adrenaline into my arms and legs. Part of the reaction was because I was skating to a popular Korean song and they loved that, but honestly they just love skating.

Yuna... Queen Yuna made it all happen. She is cool as a cucumber and just seems to let everything slip on by her like the bow of a canoe cuts through flat water but I am sure she must feel tremendous pressure even though it does not seem to show. Ryan Seacrest, for example, is here to get to know her and certainly that does not happen just because he wanted to see Korea. No, she is a global superstar and the 3 products I saw her on last night while at the Korean 7/11 is proof. By the way, Ryan is here in preparation for the Olympics, not to get Yuna's phone number.

We had a media day at the rink and one of the events was a fan meet and greet. I kind of knew what to expect because I had done one before but Ashley Wagner was very shocked to have the hundreds and hundreds of people there scream when she just said Hi. The host of the event was very good at his job keeping things moving along but jumping at any chance for a joke. Even though I did not understand him I could tell he was funny. We were to come up with a hidden talent for the fans so I played my harmonica for them. My harmonica ONLY knows one song but it seemed to impress them. Members of the audience also came up to play games with us and they had some questions for us as well. My fav was how Stephane Lambiel answered his question about someone having trouble with their right outside edge when they skate. He suggested making the leg stronger and then gave a demonstration of good quality squat techniques exaggerating each and every squat... they went bananas. He even brought a girl up on the stage and she was actually better at squats than I would have been. Wait a second, most everybody is better at those than I am...

David Wilson has choreographed this show and it is themed Les Miserables using Yuna's long program as inspiration. Show 1 is about to start and it should be great. The cast of the real show Les Mis, which is playing here in Seoul, will perform with us right by the ice tonight. They sound amazing !! It is in Korean, of course, but it does not seem to change the power of the live music to me.

Time to warm up, which means soccer with the Russians.

Later... again.

Kurt's final blog about China (June 21)

Hi everyone...

I know that I am in Korea now, but I have been quite busy and have not blogged much. Blog, what a funny word!?

I have no clue where I left off so I will simply dive in.

The shows were all about the same but for me it did get easier and easier. I simply was getting used to the lighting and was not distracted by it as much. Like I mentioned before, the setting for Singing In The Rain was amazing and it has spoiled me to expect such presentation all the time which is, of course, impossible. Here in Korea they also have a huge screen with a lovely scene of a street similar to the one Gene had in his movie so long ago. I have also, after MUCH negotiation, convinced them to at least spray some water up into the air for me to dance in for the last 20 seconds. It was quite the negotiation as my Korean is very rusty.

China was a great experience and I have Geoffrey ( Tyler ) and his curious nature to thank for it. Usually, I do not get very adventurous while on tour but he is interested in ALL things food and so we would head out for local fare. The party at the end of the shows was at a restaurant where you cook your own food at your own table. Wow ! There were quite a few things I had never tried before but pig brain had to be at the top of the list and when it arrived at the table it really really looked like a brain. In case you want to know how it tasted, and if you don't then skip a few sentences, it was like soft tofu and actually pretty darn good. Would I have it again, not sure I need to but I can say I did it once.

Riding the bullet train and exploring local restaurants and skating with amazing imagery on the ice with good friends,,, yes I would say it was a good trip to China.

I spent my birthday flying... 9 hours travel for a 90 minute flight, but what can you do? Thanks to everyone who sent me messages. It reminds me just how many people there are out there, I suppose that means you if you are reading this, who care about my sport and even my own skating. With another milestone passed I still cannot believe I get to do this for a living so thanks again to you all.

Also, I hope you will enjoy my new number as I plan on keeping it for next year as well. The concept and most all the choreography was by Geoffrey Tyler. He is my friend who helped me put together Stars On Ice when I was the choreographer for that and we have worked together on quite a few shows and solos now. For this one he has the reigns and I really love it. Like I said, I hope the hat remembers the choreography as there are quite a few hat driven moments. Basically, it is a very happy fellow who believes that nothing in the world could ever go wrong while you are doing the mambo. Maybe this character isn't too far from wrong.


Kurt with Ryan Seacrest at All That Skate (June 20)

Geoffrey Tyler's photos (June 20)

Photos from Guangzhou:

Boarding the Magic Bus to Guangzhou

Rehearsals: Guangzhou International Sports Arena

Johnny Weir tellin 'em like it is

Patrick Chan settin 'em straight in Guangzhou

Because it's there

High Speed train to Beijing:

Photos from All That Skate in Korea:

Kurt's photos (June 14)

Day off golfing with Hongbo

So many caddies!

Hongbo getting help on tee off


Whistling Lessons

We had a special visitor at half time here in Shanghai
(Yao Ming)

(Wed, June 12)

Half way through the tour, two shows down, and we are in Shanghai awaiting our third show. By we I mean Geoffrey Tyler and myself and he is here chipping in on this little 'blog' so don't be shocked by the occasional big word or long sentence.

Speaking of Geoffrey, he does not really travel to another country to see it in as much as he goes there to taste it. We have been walking to markets and seeking out local restaurants. If he does not recognize the food on his plate all the better. I try to keep up with his unique and fearless attitude towards eating and so far so very good. One of the best meals so far was just around the corner from our hotel in Guangzhou and it actually reminded me of the little restaurants in Spain with the plastic tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. With tons of trees around and many locals with their children playing late into the night we were surrounded by 'life' in the city. We walked after shopping in quite a high end mall where Patrick ' Chan ' bought a new bracelet. I am sure you can see it on him this season. It is on a red cord, for luck, and has a gold charm. Very traditional and he was quite pleased with the result. The stroll took us through streets lined with families and fun and even some skating! Yes, skating. I was fascinated with what looked like a mini group skating lesson right beside the road. The skates had wheels and the students were all under 10 but they sure could roll along. It was very organized with tiny little pylons and of course I wanted to join in. After seeing toads in baskets and snakes in water filled buckets and fish swimming circles along side turtles, it was obvious you could get fresh food here. But, I must admit that, as adventurous as we thought we might have been, we did not try any of these living breathing dishes. But, the restaurant we did choose had wonderful service and ironically our fav dishes were vegetarian. No, this was not inspired by the zoo menu. The organizers of Artistry On Ice have taken us out for lunch a few times. I must admit that we do not know the name of this one Cantonese restaurant in Guanzhou but it was as much a beautiful garden as it was a place to eat. I filmed the crazy big Koi as people threw food to them and they swarmed all over each other to fight for it knowing that it would amaze my sons when I got home. Yes, with the big buffet breakfasts and the traditional dumplings and wonderful new food adventures I expect to need a seat belt extender for the flight home.

Um, yes, there was skating as well. Each show has more to it than just skating. Promotion includes a press conference the day before as well as a full dress rehearsal day of show. Whew!! Today we will be going to the arena and the room usually fills with press. Many are professional looking but many are simply self bloggers or web site operators who giggle whenever Johnny Weir says something a little 'flashy'. My fav comment from him during a press conference so far is that he has "sequins in inappropriate places" Assume away and you would be correct. Singing In The Rain is getting quite a bit of interest and I have seen some photos from the first two skates.....wow!! The backdrop of a city street as well as the cobblestone look on the ice, the lamppost and bench, well it all makes for some wonderful pics.

Last night a group of us went up to the top of the Hyatt and stared in glittery amazement at the Shanghai skyline. Truly, what a curious and gifted life I lead.

(Sat, June 8)

What a sensory experience. The show hits you from every angle as you watch it. A few technical moments that were missing that left the skaters wandering looking for cues but really it seemed like a wonderful experience for the audience. They laughed at speeches and stood for the whole finale so one can only assume they had a wonderful time.

On a personal note I had a great night of skating but an awful night of jumping during one of my solos. It seemed like my takeoffs were great but that I lost touch with where I was during my jumps. Simply put, I could not find the exit sign for my landings and made a mess of it. Felt like I was stuck in a small room with a strobe light?? Certainly not what you want ever but I let down all of those involved in the preparation as well as the large audience who were so excited. Faith given - faith let down. Integrity always shows through, but truly it is simply better and easier for all to just deliver. Sigh.

It is a fun and involved group here both on and off the ice. We leave tomorrow early for a day of travel and a press conference. I can't sleep and gave up to re pack and write this blog.

Off to sleep... I hope.

(Fri, June 7)

It is show day here in Taipei. After 2 long long days of skating and more practice today as well as a dress rehearsal before the show I am concerned that my legs just will look up at me and laugh just when I actually need them. Seems I am in every group number and the preparations for Singing In The Rain kept me on the ice a few hours longer than the other skaters. This, even though it makes for a tired performer, is the most amazing part.

There is a huge screen at the end of the rink that they can project anything on and I do mean anything. The images and light show for this skating show is so wonderful that truly it is basically a show all on it's own. Also, they use the ice as a screen as well. For example, I will be skating on cobblestone while performing Singing... wow!! Also, there will be 3 lampposts on the ice and Hong Bo, (2010 Olympic Champion, 2-time Olympic bronze medalist, 3-time world champion pairs skater) will be playing the policeman to my Gene Kelly.

Went to an outdoor food market last night and ate Cockscomb. Yup, that floppy thing that sits on top of a roosters head!! I won't tell you what it tastes like, you will just have to try it to find out.

Time to go be on the ice all day and then cross my fingers for the show.


Geoffrey Tyler's photos (June 7, 2013)

(Wed, June 5)

Hello there interested people. I am assuming that if you are reading this that you are indeed interested and that no one is forcing you to seek out this obscure message from a skater in China and forcing you to read it.

YES, I am actually tired enough to have written that!!

OK, I hardly ever write or tweet and if I do tweet they seem to arrive in bunches and then.......................nothing for quite some time? But, in this instance, Tina has reminded me that I checked in with her and the website last year so I will try to do so again.

I have a trusty travelling companion in Geoffrey Tyler. My partner in crime on quite a few skating ventures now, he was going to sing while I performed here in China as well as Korea. Our plans for the singing changed but I am happy to say that he is still with me in the capacity of friend and choreographer. My new solo for Korea was his idea and concept and he gave me choreography that I could just fill in the blanks around. ( more on that later )

We left Toronto full of quiet excitement since both of us were a bit tired to begin with. Any flight that gets you where you are going is a good one to me and our arrival to Hong Kong meant we were almost to Taipei. Our plan changed when they would not let me carry my skates on the next plane and so we had to miss our connection! Now, as I write this, we are waiting for our next flight that is, of course, delayed adding another 3-4 hours to our trip.

Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound!

This show is tons of fun with a cast of skaters from all round the world. My goal is to present Singing In The Rain well and to skate to a Chinese version of the song Honey that I used for the Korean shows last year.

For now, we are just trying to get to our hotel. Time to board....

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Tyler