Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Kristi Yamaguchi and Kurt Browning discuss figure skating

CBS This Morning, Nov. 7, 1991

Copyright 1991 Burrelle's Information Services

Harry Smith, co-anchor:

Let's go back to France now and check in with Paula. Good morning again.

Paula Zahn, co-host:

Good morning again, Harry. In just about two hours from now the Lalique figure skating championships will be getting under way. This is a very important event because it's the last major international competition leading up to the Olympics. It'll be the only chance many of the skaters will--it will be the only chance they'll have to skate on this rink before the Olympics. Earlier this morning I had the opportunity to spend some time with America's Kristi Yamaguchi and Canada's Kurt Browning. They are both reigning world champions in figure skating right now. Both of them--friends--work out in the same rink. And earlier this morning I spoke with them about the--the pressure and the intense scrutiny they must feel coming in to the Olympics as defending world champions. Here's what they had to say.

Kristi Yamaguchi (1991 World Figure Skating Champion): I think more than the pressure we are excited to actually come into Albertville, see the atmosphere that we--hopefully we will be competing in in February and just get a feel for the rink and know a little piece of what Albertville is.

Zahn: How important is that to you?

Yamaguchi: Well...

Kurt Browning (1991 World Figure Skating Champion): To me, it's very important.

Zahn: Explain to us why.

Browning: Well, for me to get a feel of what the rink is like--the next time I come here it won't be my first time, it'll be my second time. And if you've ever--you've ever visited someone's house, the second time you're always more comfortable. And so the next time I come I'm going to be--feel right at home here.

Zahn: You obviously know something about coming back, as the defending world champion. Isn't that a tough place to be in?

Browning: It's--it only leaves you one way to go. You know, it only leads down. But actually, it's the biggest challenge I've ever had. It--there's skating a program and then there's trying to repeat and be better than you were last year, and it's hard to compete against yourself.

Zahn: What kind of a difference does the crowd make when you're out here, and the--and the pressure is so intense?

Browning: You don't really notice the crowd until you have a bad one. And then you wish you that had a great crowd, because they can--they can take a bad program and they can change your whole mood halfway through the program, and save something for you.

Zahn: Now I'm curious. At home you work out with Kurt and you work on a smaller rink than--than this. How hard is that to come out and have the rink expand by 10 feet width wise?

Yamaguchi: Well, when I first skated here yesterday, I definitely felt small out there because it is such a big surface, but adjusting-wise it's not too bad coming from a smaller rink. It just gives you a little more room to skate and you adjust your program to it.

Zahn: How about longwise? Isn't that a lot harder to perform the program out there now, with that additional ice to skate?

Browning: It's a little hard to feel like you're covering the whole rink, but you just skate your old program and you don't really worry about it. But I'm glad we have a lot more room because I'm always hitting the boards every once in a while.

Zahn: Kristi, it's kind of hard to miss you these days. You walk down aisle nine of the grocery store and you see--on Kellogg's Special K box. What's that been like for you to have so much publicity and attention?

Yamaguchi: It's actually been a lot of fun. Some friends have called me up and, Yeah, I walked in the grocery store and there you were.'

Zahn: Have you seen it yet?

Browning: Yeah, I've got a box at home.

Zahn: How's she look?

Browning: I don't eat it. I just put it on the fridge and keep it.

Zahn: You've got a new book that's going to be coming out. And I understand it's selling well before it even hits the book shelves.

Browning: It's strange for us to be on a box of cereal or something like that because, for us, we're just Kurt and Kristi, but--and all of our friends are having a fun time, too, because, you know--we haven't changed but other people are knowing our names and it's an exciting time for us.

Zahn: Give me an idea of the kind of response you get at home, because the fact that your book is selling so well before it even hits the book shelves says something--a lot about the interest in you.

Browning: It's a lot of responsibility, you know, to have people know your name. And everywhere you go, you never know when someone's going to come up to you and recognize you. And so you're a little bit more aware of what you're doing, but you've still got to be yourself.

Zahn: You two have developed a special friendship. You've known each other for three years. You've traveled all around the world competing together. How important is that friendship to you, Kristi? And what difference has it made to you?

Yamaguchi: I think I cherish our friendship very much. The past couple years training with Kurt have really brought inspiration into my skating and, you know, I've had a lot more fun with the training. And he's helped me out a lot.

Browning: This is the mushy part of the interview.

Yamaguchi: Here we go.

Zahn: Go for it.

Browning: No, well, we're really lucky in Canada to have her--to come. Her coach married a Canadian and so we got this as a little present. And at the Royal Glenora Club we all are inspired by Kristi. She's the most consistent skater out of all of us and she gives us something to shoot for.

Zahn: Get the--settle a score here. Who gossips more, the women skaters or the male skaters?

Browning: I think that the girls, when they compete against each other...

Yamaguchi: Well, hey, I think it's the guys...

Browning: ... they're more catlike, you know. The guys all get along.

Zahn: Well, it's a pleasure to meet both of you and we very much look forward to following you this weekend and up till the '92 Olympics.

Yamaguchi: Thank you.

Browning: Thank you.

Zahn: Thank you so much. Good luck.

And, Harry, just about ten minutes from now, Kristi Yamaguchi is expected to take to the ice to get--get in some practice before her competition. Also at the same time on the ice will be Japan's Madori Ito, the 1989 world champion. So we're going to be watching two of the top women skaters in the world in the next 10 minutes. Let's go back to Harry.

Smith: All right. Thanks, Paula. Coming up next, heart attack survivors making the best of a new lease on life.