Steven Cousins' Interview
with Kurt Browning

off the Stars on Ice website - 2/15/02

STEVEN: So Kurt, here we go again with our interview. We did one last year and now it is a brand new year. How do you like the show this year and what are your favorite parts of the show?

KURT: I remember last year's interview because we did it on the airplane and you were having trouble writing!

This year the show is so different in so many ways. The obvious change is not having Scott around and as much as we miss him on the ice, I know we notice his absence even more in the dressing room. He was always good for a laugh!

If last year's show was mostly about our hairless leader (Scott), then this year it is about the women. The center of the show is our three lady Olympic Champions; Yama, Tara and Kat. It is a great opportunity for people to see three generations of Olympic Champions together. Sometimes I feel sorry for Ilia who is an Olympic Champion himself, but does not get the same attention just because he is a guy.

One of my favorite parts of the show is a very short part and it involves you, Steve. In the Top Of The World segment in the finale, Ilia goes out first in the music followed up by you and Denis. There is something so powerful about the entrance and the music. I just love it. It reminds me of one of my favorite shows ever - the Rolling Stones season - when three guys went skating up the ice to the heavy rock sound of the Stones. I sometimes think the funniest part of the show takes place inside the tunnel.

STEVEN: Life without our Scotty....what differences do you see?

KURT: The first big change is in our Top Ten lists.. they stink! I guess that Scott was our motivation for these. Also, there is more Budweiser to go around!

Seriously, the show was set up from the very beginning to live longer than Scott's career. He set up a show that would go on independent of any one person's name or star value. Stars On Ice is truly Scotty's baby, but I think he would be very sad if it did not exist without him. He is very proud of it and I am hoping that his pride (in the show) keeps going. I actually see even more pride from the younger skaters this year than any other year. I can say that sort of thing now because I am the third oldest in the cast, I think (sorry, Todd Sand and Katarina Witt!). Another extreme change is men in fishnet tights...something you just have to see to believe. I can't see that going down with Scott still around. BUT, you know he did look pretty good in those powder blue tights for Figaro!

STEVEN: You did a show last year called Gotta Dance, where you got to work with some legends of the stage, and also your wife, Sonia Rodriquez. Explain what that was like and how it was to perform with her.

KURT: Gotta Dance is something I am very proud of and thank you very much for your skating in it with Sonia and I. I hope you are free for next year's show, as well?

Sonia is a Principal with the National Ballet of Canada and both of us have been looking for a way to blend our careers. We know that skating and dancing won't last forever, so we used this show to meet almost half way. Having dance legends like Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen and Anne Reinking in the show made the feel and image of the evening consistent. I knew that fans of skating who enjoyed Singing in the Rain and Casablanca would like this show as well. Sonia danced with Rex Harrington on an amazing stage. I wanted people who are regulars at skating shows but that maybe were not regulars at dance events to see something new without leaving totally the idea of the evening having one thought. I look forward to doing more with Sonia in the future where we actually interact more. by the way, no - she does not skate.

STEVEN: You did a lot of your own choreography for that show. Do you see yourself doing more of that in the future?

KURT: I did some of the work/choreography for that show, but most of the thanks goes to Lea Ann Miller. She has worked with Stars on Ice both as a skater and a choreographer for well over a decade. She did a great job. Thanks Lea Ann!

I helped with some of the opening and had ideas here and there and I seem to be enjoying it and hope to do more in the future. Skaters are starting to come to me asking for help and I am excited about learning more and sticking my toe into that part of skating. I know you do choreography as well, Steve, and I think we, as skaters, have lots to offer to each other if we are brave enough to try.

STEVEN: Do a program for me???? Pleeeaaassseee???

KURT: Snatch this pebble from my hand, young grasshopper, and we will talk.

STEVEN: Are you going to be doing anything at the Olympics in Salt Lake City?

KURT: It is supposed to be a secret, so I won't tell you that I am skating in the closing...oops!

STEVEN: What are your predictions for the Mens' event and why?

KURT: What do you do - because anything can happen at the moment as we skaters all know - so all you do is pick whom you think the judges have already picked out in their minds if they all skate clean. So, after saying that, I have no clue who is going to win. BUT, I am going to vote for Alexei, mostly because I know him and I don't really know Evgeny (Plushenko). Both are simply amazing and truly represent the next era of skating. Such athletes, and yet both of them carry an incredible image when they perform. Then there is Todd Eldredge...and you just don't leave him out of the mix. He is like Elvis, you never say never when he is in the field.

STEVEN: How do you try and balance your life being on the road a lot?

KURT: AOL. Keeping in touch with your real life while you float from rink to rink is tough. Even family sort of get used to you not being around, and if you don't make the effort to keep in touch, it is not a good thing. To be honest, if the skating is going well, then it is so much easier. If you get injured or lose your jumps, then putting yourself out there in front of thousands of people every night so far from home starts to wear at you. We are not competing, but at the same time we care so much about each and every skate. What people think about us is almost as important to us as how we feel about ourselves and being an entertainer means giving everything you have to that audience. When you don't, you just feel awful. Like you let them down and yourself and your cast mates as well. For example, I have been hearing about people on the internet worrying about me. I don't go on the net, but found out from someone else and it reminds me how much people, friends, fans and especially ourselves tie together our skating and how we are as a person. Weird, but it is true. If we are skating well, then we are perceived as doing well and same goes for if things are not going well out there on the ice. This rings true sometimes but sometimes it is as simple as TRYING TO BREAK IN NEW SKATES. Since just before LA, I have been breaking in a new pair of blades and boots and I have never done it on the road before. It has been tough with some shows having some off moments. A jump can go sideways so easily in new skates, so if you saw one of those shows - I'm sorry, but what can you do?

STEVEN: Good and bad things about being on the road?

KURT: Bad - my cell phone never works inside any of the buildings. Going to bed at 2:30 in the morning after a show and travel that same night and then actually falling asleep at 4 AM. Having a show the next day after falling asleep at 4 in the morning. Missing your family and friends. Almost always getting beat everyday in ping pong.

Good - when my cell phone works. Going to bed at 2:30 in the morning because you were out having fun. No show the next day. Being so happy and proud of your job and getting to perform with an amazing group of people who share your love of the same sport/passion. Winning at ping pong.

STEVEN: What was your most embarrassing moment that you can remember or repeat?!

KURT: Always,, always, always, always make sure you know who is in the room, behind you or around the corner before you tell an embarrassing story about somebody else or it might become an embarrassing story about yourself. That is all I am going to say except that a treadmill and a German were involved.

STEVEN: At the end of this tour, what are you gonna do to relax?

KURT: I suspect it will involve golf in the morning, breakfast outside with Sonia, and then listening to my dog bark as I jump into the lake over and over again.

STEVEN: You are a four-time World Champion. Explain how each one was different and the way you handled them.

KURT: We could be here all day with this question!

Paris, 1989 - The Surprise
Even my coach was telling me I was not supposed to win it, but after coming in 5th in figures, I didn't see any other option. I had already beat each of the four guys ahead of me at some time that season and so why not win? The short was the great part, maybe the most exciting I have ever done just because of the reckless abandon I had going into those triple axels. That was when we could do more than one in the short. Before the long, I went for a walk and decided that I was about to change my life with the next skate. Somehow I just thought I was supposed to win it.

Halifax - Whew!
As confident and easy as it was to win the first one, I was nervous, injured and scared for this one in my home country. I had not won a major competition all year and actually, not even skated well at any of them. The short was again the most exciting part with my having to add the triple axel into the program in the last five seconds or so. This was because I had doubled it earlier in the program. It was probably one of the most do or die a horrible skating death moments in my career. Then, a huge, huge party with family and friends.

Munich - Swish
I just decided a couple of weeks before Worlds that whatever Victor Petrenko did, I would do more. It seemed an easy plan and so I started thinking about doing a program with three triple-triple combos in it. I am still not sure if that has been repeated yet to this day(?) Nah, probably somebody has, but anyway, I was all confident that year. Not like Paris where it was mixed with an "ignorance is bliss" sort of attitude, but a calculated approach which left me with the World title again.

Prague - All Grown Up
With a tried-and-true program under my belt called Casablanca, I was very confident. Elvis had given me one of the hardest competitions I had ever had at Canadians that year and after that, Worlds actually seemed easier. With my new white tuxedo on, I felt like "the man" in the event and that feeling carried me through it.

STEVEN: What has been your favorite moment in your career so far? Amateur or professional?

KURT: Actually, one of my best moments, proudest moments, is when I won the Professional Skater Of The Year. It all of a sudden made me feel that I had truly made a positive influence on the sport I loved so much and that had been so good to me. I really wanted to contribute to professional skating and play a part and that award made me feel as though I had done it. It is too bad that I was wearing a clown costume at the time.

STEVEN: How much influence did your parents have on you? I know that you are close with your dad and were with your mom, did they have anything they would relay to you growing up that has stuck with you?

KURT: It is amazing how you just grow up as a kid and never really second guess what is going on around you. The good and the bad. I was lucky in that my parents really had their lives settled by the time I came along. Had I been born earlier in their lives, like Wade and Dena were, I might not have skated. No, I would not have skated. Also, I think my brother and sister kind of broke them in as parents and I really got a couple of relaxed people who loved to watch sports and have fun. At skating events, my parents were very much like yours, Steve, just there for the ride and after all, it is just skating. They were supportive and loved every second of it, but all of the time it was not the end of the world if the skating did NOT work out.

Some of the things they would say was be respectful to people who take an interest in your skating. This was from the very, very beginning. Also, hard work leads to great fun. I always had a balance of both. I am sure it was my Dad that I got my competitiveness from.

STEVEN: Boxers or briefs? (tee hee!)

KURT: Both at the same time. A guy can never be too careful!

STEVEN: Things that you would like to see different in amateur skating?

KURT: This is something I cannot change, so why talk about it? But I feel that with the growth of the sport, it is harder for kids (to just skate). It seems the rewards are so obvious now. When I grew up, I did it for fun and it just slowly grew to where I am today. I wonder if it is the same in basketball, football and baseball? Also, some of the guys' costumes...come on! It is like they are standing at center ice and saying "Do you like the way I move?"

STEVEN: My Mom says you are her favorite skater (typical!). Who are your biggest influences and why?

KURT: Bless your MOM...xoxoxo.

My biggest influences...well there was Marvin Trimble. A skater from my hometown of Caroline who was older than I was and I am positive had he not skated, I would have quit just like all the other boys did at a certain age. Also, Brian Orser as he was a "god" when I was growing up. He still is, but now it is on more of a personal level and not just on the ice. Scott, because of his great advice, and you, Steve, because of the A. N. F.

STEVEN: If you could have done any other sport at the level you are as a skater, what would you have done and why?

KURT: Well, I love hockey but, ouch! And I love golf, but all that travel and just too darn much money! Hmmm...as a kid, I always wanted to be a rodeo clown, but as a skater, I still got to be a clown without the whole bull issue. I am joking around, but it is hard to answer. I love sports and when you get so deep into one, it sort of takes over your life. I know you would have picked football in a second, Steve. (soccer over here) OK. Hockey, if I have to pick.

STEVEN: Tell the people something about yourself that they would not necessarily know.

KURT: When I was a kid, I would attract bears. Seems either I was following them or they were following me or we would just bump into each other. I never got into any trouble at any time, but once when I was jogging, I scared one. A small black bear was nosing around in a garbage dump and I was jogging by (actually training for skating) and I spooked him. He turned and ran so fast I didn't even see him coming. He (or she) ran right by me practically touching my hand making the funniest sound. OK, at the time it wasn't funny, but later it was. Bears grunt, in case you didn't know.

Anyway, I stood there for a second or two and then got scared even though it was basically all over already. I jumped into a trashed clothes dryer and hid inside. I waited there for a bit until I realized that if he really wanted me he could just scoop me out like candy out of a bowl. The door was missing, so I jumped out and ran for home as fast as I could.

There, that is something people don't necessarily know.

STEVEN: I am asking everyone this.....If you could meet someone and spend one hour with them, who would it be and why?

KURT: I think meeting myself from the future would be very handy. Having a good long look at the decisions I had made and the kind of person I turned out to be might change some decisions I would make. It might also make me want to stay out of the sun more.

STEVEN: Thanks a lot, mate!

KURT: I will see you on the bus.

STEVEN: Back at ya mate!