Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Canadian Figure Skater Wins Place on the Walk of Fame

Interview Transcript from Canada AM with Rod Black

June 1, 2001 9:38:50 - 9:45:40 Eastern Time

Copyright 2001 CTV Television, Inc.

BLACK: [video excerpt] Everyone knows who this guy is. Four-time Canadian world champion, first skater to ever land the quadruple jump in competition, setting the precedent for other skaters around the world. His dedication to the sport made him one of the greatest skaters of all time, one of the top athletes in Canada. He is still skating strong as a pro now. Definitely a star on ice. And today he will be a star in concrete at the Walk of Fame. Kurt Browning is back with this again.

BROWNING: When I hear your voice talk about skating I feel like Skate Canada is on. "C'mon, Honey, watch skating. Rod's on TV."

BLACK: Do you miss it?

BROWNING: Well, you know what's wild about being a professional nowadays? You know, that clip they just showed, I was competing against Alexi Yagudin that night. The mean, he is a three-time world champion, right? So, as a professional nowadays we get to do things that they didn't get to do. You know, reach back in time and pull Kurt Browning out of the woodwork and shove him up against the current world champion, it's really fun. It's the opportunity, you know?

BLACK: I look at that line know: The first man to ever to land the quadruple jump. Did you ever realize back in Budapest what would have happened? The mean, there are other skaters who landed jumps, quads. But not at the worlds. You did. Did you ever realize 12, 13 years later how many kids would have the quad? And how important the jump would become?

BROWNING: I think so, yeah. To me it was important then. Nothing hurt. My knees didn't hurt. Nothing hurt back then. So I would go to the rink by myself at night and just keep throwing this thing. I wanted to surprise my coach. I was basically working on it covertly. And I had seen Brian Boitano do it in practice sessions. And I went, "I want to do that."

And you are always inspired by somebody ahead of you. And so, then when I ended up getting the credit for it at the world championships, now kids who do interviews, "I want to be like Kurt Browning." But that's ten years ago. And now it's a part of the woodwork.

BLACK: Did you ever think, though, that you became known for this jump and you were a great leaper in your prime? You probably don't have a quad now, but --

BROWNING: I did it in a competition in September. Yeah, last year. In the warmup.

BLACK: Did you? Well, see, there you go. You got me. The warmup. Okay.

But what you became known for was your artistry. What you did with the blade on the ice. The impact that you have on the sport. For just being the skater, not the jumper.

BROWNING: That's interesting.

Necessity. You know, I turned professional and I really was intrigued about the idea of getting out in front of people every night and being worthy of them coming together in one place. I look up to Scott Hamilton a lot. I think he's had an influence on my career, and especially my style of skating. He gave me courage to be a little goofy sometimes --

BLACK: You guys are very similar.

BROWNING: Getting there. [laughter]

He has definitely influenced me in that way. And I'm proud to have you say that.

BLACK: I remember at Maple Leaf Gardens, this was like maybe '94, maybe '93. Stars on Ice. But I remember you backstage. My favourite Kurt presents story. And I tell people this often.

You were backstage, you came off the ice, the lights had gone up, everybody had left. And you wanted to go skate again because you said, "I just love this. I want to go out there and skate again."

BROWNING: Well, when it's good it's really good. When you are in tune with the audience and you're skating and the jump goes up and you are in air going, "I have landed this! I've got it!", yeah, you don't want to get off the ice. You just want to go out and do it again.

But it can also be the exact opposite, because 16,000 people are staring at you and sort of waiting for something good to happen. And you are staring at them going, "Crickets, I've got nothing." And so the juxtaposition between when it's good it's great, and when it's bad it's really bad.

BLACK: What's life like now for you?

BROWNING: A lot of travel.

BLACK: You are not the competitive skater you once were, you are a professional skater. You're not on television every week. Arguably, you are not the celebrity you once were a few years ago. People still love and revere you --

BROWNING: But you just said in my opening, you said, "Everyone knows him."

BLACK: Well, they do. But you know what I mean. You're not "the star" right now. How do you handle that?

BROWNING: You know, I still feel like it. I still very, very popular with the people. When I go around putting gas in the car it just seems like I still get recognized a lot, which surprises me. It's almost been a decade since I was World Champion. And to still be recognized just gassing your car up, I think that is a testament to how popular skating is.

I'm also doing tours down in the States, thanks to Scott. And that has rejuvenated my career. Sixty-six cities across the United States keeps a guy busy. The Walk of Fame, getting a star tonight. A lot of things are happening. And it's enough. I've got a couple of television specials coming up. I'm busy enough.

BLACK: Yeah, I should put a rider on that, because I remember when you were in that time. And you were like the tornado, constantly spinning. TV shows every day. I really did not know at that time how you were able to do it.

BROWNING: Younger. You just sort of step into something. If you have no preconceived idea of what you should be doing then you just sort of accept whatever happens. And I think that's what was going on. I have slowed down a little bit. You know, I'm married. I'm trying to see my family in Alberta. And I love being in Toronto, but I'm not here very often.

BLACK: How are you going to handle it 20 years from now when you take your kid or kids and you walk down that street and you see your name?

BROWNING: I will say, "We're going to have a picnic right on the star." [laughter] And halfway through the picnic I'm going to pull back the little thing -- you know, people will be walking around us, some policeman will come along, "Can you move along?" And I'm going to pull back the little picnic thing and say, "See, there is your dad's name. I used to be somebody."

BLACK: Well, maybe it should be appropriate it should be in wintertime and you could skate over top of it.

BROWNING: [laughs] That's right.

BLACK: You're in some very great company as well. Some very elite company.

BROWNING: Do you know what this Star Walk of Fame does? It proves to Canadians who Canadians are. You know, I didn't know "The Who". So I think what it really does is it gives us a chance to chant out loud about our Canadians who have done well or made us proud or made us happy. And some of them we thought were Americans. So it's time to claim them back as Canadians.

BLACK: Well, enjoy this day. I know Jeff Hutcheson last time you are on was trying to get you to be on the Walk of Fame. And it must have worked. But you knew you were going to get their one day.

BROWNING: Well, I hosted it last year. And my whole schtick was "When I wish I had a star on the Walk of Fame." And now I'm embarrassed, but I guess it worked.

BLACK: You guilted them.


BLACK: Say hi to your dad.

BROWNING: Thank you.

BLACK: And have a great day today, you deserve it. You're a champ.