Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Interview with Kurt Browning

Kurt Interview Transcript from Canada AM with Seamus

Dec. 30, 2002

SEAMUS: He is the first skater to land the quad jump in competition, a feat that also landed him a world record. He's a four-time world champ, and if that wasn't enough, he's also been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about the one and only Kurt Browning. And though he's been out of the competitive life for years now, he's still tearing up the rink, shining brightly on Stars on Ice. Kurt joins us now from Lake Placid, NY. First of all, good morning Kurt. I've got to ask you, what's it like performing as a professional? You've been doing this for quite some time, huh?

KURT: Yeah, I'm getting a little long in the tooth, um, yeah this is getting on about my 13th or 14th year with Stars on Ice in Canada, and about my 8th year in Stars on Ice here in the United States, so..if I don't know how to do this by now, I'd better look for another job .

S: Do you miss the competition though, I mean, even though it's been this long?

K: You know, for the first four years as a pro, I did, and I had the opportunity to actually compete with the amateurs in what we call "pro-am" events, and now I'm kind of settling in to the um, watching mode, and maybe commentating and stuff. I don't compete as much as I used to.

S: So you doing a lot of commentating now?

K: Something that might be happening in the future, but I'm still very busy with Stars on Ice, obviously, you know, HSBC Stars on Ice. We're starting to, um, get that rolling, get that excited, get people, get the word out, and we're here in Lake Placid, and this is where Stars on Ice in Canada - it actually starts down in the States. We tour for three months across the states, and then the show will move up into Canada. (rubbing hands and grinning) So we'll have it nice and um, oily, and ready, and good and settled for you guys.

S: So I was going to say, I like the sound of this. So you're doing rehearsals, basically your extended rehearsals is in the United States, so you know you're going to be in fighting form for the hardened crowd in Canada.

K: (laughing) Yeah, I like how you're thinking. Sixty-one rehearsals across the United States, getting ready for Canada (thumbs up and grinning at the camera).

S: That's right, that's how it works. OK, so you've got Tara Lipinski, you've got Todd Eldredge, you've got Jamie Sale and David Pelletier...this must be great fun for you guys.

K: Oh it is a lot of fun, it's um, like you said, I'm getting long in the tooth, we mentioned, and to get to skate with the guys who just, not only got to skate at the Olympics but won the Olympics. You mentioned Jamie and David who all Canadians love and worship. We also have the men's champion, a fantastic skater, Alexei Yagudin, will also be joining the cast. Tara Lipinski won't be with us, um, our lady will be Jennifer Robinson, Canadian champion, and she was fantastic in Salt Lake City.

S: Yeah, wow, well let's talk about Sale and Pelletier, I mean you stood there on the sidelines watching as all that happened. How are they holding up? Have they changed altogether now that they're professionals? Have they managed to put it all behind them?

K: Well it's one of those situations where, you know, small-town kids well, and then, you know, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and you know, their whole life just flipped upside-down. Um, they are great kids, they're very professional. I've been training with them now, pretty consistently, six or seven hours a day for a couple of weeks. Hard working, I can see why they won, and um, you know they're just good Canadian kids. They want to be...they want to be really good entertainers and so I'm looking forward - they're looking forward to their career with Stars on Ice.

S: Did you ever pass any advice on to them?

K: Not really. I've known Jamie since she was eight, so I probably had some influence on her. Um, and David I'm just getting to know now. They're two people that really have their stuff together up here (pointing to his head), um, and they're good frie - they're becoming good friends. They don't need any advice from me.

S: Well in the wake of that controversy, you know now we've got new judging rules in skate competitions. Have the changes helped these controversies surrounding judges in figure skating? I mean, what do you think of them?

K: Not yet, because the rule changes are..you know, anytime you change anything there's gonna be some reluctance by somebody. Right now, the media is reluctant to have figure skating change because they want that bad judge to point a finger at. Um, I'm hoping that this gets the changes to work, I'm very optimistic, and it'll get the attention back to what's important, which is called skating, and um maybe..that's especially what Jamie and David want to do, they want to stop talking about what happened and start talking about what's going to be happening. For example, HSBC Stars on Ice, and they want to get on with their career and start entertaining people.

S: One of the more controversial...let's talk briefly about some of the more controversial changes that have been made. One of them is the judges' anonymity and the fact that we won't be able to put a score onto a particular judge. Do you agree with that decision?

K: Well, you know what it is? I did another interview, and I've said something about um, suppose that people just stop stopping at red lights, and just kept going through them. Well then pretty soon the whole city would be in chaos and you'd have to have a policeman at every single stoplight in the city. That's what we have to do right now. Unfortunately, we have enough people who are trying to, you know, sidestep all the rules that worked for years. The 6.0 system worked. Um, the judge from Germany giving the mark, and the judge from France, it all worked. But when you're cheating, it doesn't work, so here we are, we're having to police the system, and this is one of the side effects of it. Is it going to stay like this? Is it going to work? Only time will tell. We haven't even fully implemented one competition with the new rules yet, and, um, but it's a necessity, unfortunately.

S: And a lot of people wonder too, what with artistic interpretation, so many other things being subjective as they are, you know, might look...I mean, the changes are technical, obviously technical, but there's a very subjective, a very beautiful element to skating, but is it possible to find a perfect system to judge it?

K: (smiling) Your soft side is coming out. No, because people are involved, there is no such thing as a perfect system. Um, you know, 100 meter run, where it's just timed by computers, is about as perfect as you're going to get. Figure skating isn't perfect, which is also one of the fun things about it. Everybody's opinion's great. Um it's one of those sports where it actually goes to the Olympics and then endures. For example, the professional world, because it has much more to offer than just the idea of the sport. Ah, no it's not going to be perfect, but I'm hoping that this system eases some of the tension that...people don't want to watch figure skating and not know that the guy who won was actually the guy who won.

S: Let's switch gears and talk about you for a second. Your wife is a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, you're with Stars on Ice. How the heck do you guys manage to even see one another? Especially at this crazt time of year?

K: Um, no, it's just a lifestyle choice that you make, and a lot of people have to travel. I travel six to eight months a year. Um, that's going to change in the future. It's...when you make a living with your knees and your back and your body, you really have to do it while you can, because once you leave, you don't really get to come back. So...but it's fun, I'm having the time of my life! It's fantastic to have this job...like my dad says, you're a lucky kid 'cause at the end of your workday, people clap. How many people get that?

S: (laughs) That's an excellent way of putting it.

K: Yeah, dads have a way of keeping you under control.

S: yeah, it's funny, that. Are you going to see your family, or are you going to see your new wife on New Year's Eve? Are you going to spend any time together?

K: Yeah. I'll be with my wife on New Year's Eve, and um, Stars on Ice takes a break, and you know it is the Christmas season so it's time to spend time with your family, and um do all those important things.

S: And would you care to say that your resolution will be to get more applause? Even more...?

K: Pardon me, my resolution? You're going to give one to me? Ok. It should be..it should be...my wife is Spanish, so I have to learn Spanish. Ask me in five years if I can speak Spanish.

S: Well, lastly, Stars on Ice, you know, all your friends there, I'm just wondering if you guys abide by the rule that what goes on the road, stays on the road.

K: Ha ha ha ha the um, the road is a quirky place, um...for example I've known Isabelle and Lloyd, Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, on the tour and uh...you know, I've known these people since I was a young teenager and, uh..we, we sort of...on the road is like our college years? And we really do worship and treasure this time and um, you know when we're in the show, it's a really special place. And when you're out of it, you're going to miss it badly, so we try to treasure it, especially as we're getting older.

S: Well if these are your college years, sit back and have some fun, and I hope they're more productive than mine were.

K: (laughs) well I'll try..I'll try and graduate.

S: Exactly. Well, thanks very much Kurt.

K: Take care.

S: And we'll be right back, here on Canada AM.