Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Transcript of Kurt on Gabereau Live (taped on April 27, 1999)

Transcribed by Samantha.

Vicky: Oh dear. I'm Vicky Gabereau. On today's show: World Figure Skating Champion Kurt Browning, Canadian artist Toni Onley and music by the Celtic All-Starsh. All-Stars. Easy for me to say. Rockin' good time!

(Opening music)

(Kurt rolls out to the desk in the chair.)

Vicky: Come back. You like that, huh?

Kurt: Ahh. I like that.

Vicky: It's really quite fun. You could spin all around this whole desk.

Kurt: I could. If you set me free I would.

Vicky: Okay. You are free.

Kurt: Okay, I gotta go. (He starts to spin then stops.)

Vicky: Okay, good.

Kurt: I said I would be good. I'll be good.

Vicky: I was gonna say, who made you promise you'd be good?

Kurt: You. You said the guys...they always spin back and forth.

Vicky: It's true. They go like this (rocking from side to side)and they can't stay still.

Kurt: We're afraid of being captured, that's what it is.

Vicky: Who called you Skate God for Life?

Kurt: I called Scott Hamilton Skate God for Life...

Vicky: Ah.

Kurt: and he reciprocated the favor back.

Vicky: Right. (Kurt winks) He's one of the all-time great guys, I gather.

Kurt: Yeah, he is.

Vicky: And he's all better now? He's been sick and he's just...

Kurt: Yeah. He's not as tall as he'd like to be, but other than that he's fine. He's perfect.

Vicky: (laughs) Yeah, but for skating it's not such a good idea to be so tall is it?

Kurt: Oh there's not rules, really. I mean, one of the best jumpers in the world, Josef Sabovcik, is six foot...

Vicky: Right.

Kurt: and his hair is six foot eight, so...

Vicky: (laughs) And the English guy who won...

Kurt: Robin Cousins was also very tall. Olympic Champion, so...

Vicky: So it doesn't matter how close you are to the ice.

Kurt: No. (shakes his head) Yeah. (smacks the desk) It matters if you are too close.

Vicky: Yeah. You don't want to be completely too close. So, how is this ice show...

Kurt: We're Stars on Ice and we're travelling across Canada.

Vicky: It's over now isn't it?

Kurt: Vancouver's our last show.

Vicky: And how many were there?

Kurt: Well, we did eleven shows. This country needs more cities.

Vicky: Well it needs more people in the cities too.

Kurt: I suppose.

Vicky: Did you put this together.

Kurt: Um. Actually, Scott Hamilton started this like twelve years ago in the United States and Stars on Ice has also, has run in conjunction with the United States show for about...next year will be our tenth anniversary. And I'm so getting old! It's unbelievable! (whimpery voice)

Vicky: How old are you?

Kurt: Thirty-two.

Vicky: Oh, you're just a child.

Kurt: I'm a little puppy, I know. (baby voice)

Vicky: But you can go on doing this kind of skating forever. I mean, competitive skating is one thing...

Kurt: (nodding) Yeah. Dream on. I can continue skating for a long time. It's a wonderful...It's so...fantastic that friction is not really involved as much with my sport because you can skate for a long, long time. Um, Toller Cranston's what, 104, and he's, he's doing really, really well. But he only sleeps during the day, so I think that helps.

Vicky: A hundred and four, ya say?

Kurt: Yeah, I think so.

Vicky: I didn't say that. Although, I did say the other day that I was 73, it was a joke, and I did get an email from a woman saying 'I can hardly believe in that she's 73 years old!'

Kurt: Oh, bless her heart!

Vicky: Yeah. I'm NOT 73 years old.

Kurt: I understand. (bites his lip)

Vicky: I just want you to know that.

Kurt: I do want to be invited back. I'm sorry. I'll be good.

Vicky: When Stars on Ice and others like it...what kind of business do these shows do?

Kurt: Um, obviously very well because they exist. Any business that still exists after ten years must be doing something right. Um, figure skating has exploded over the last five or six years due to...

Vicky: You.

Kurt: Yep. You're right. I'm it. I wasn't going to say it, but you're right. End of story. We've had a whole bunch of things happen...we've had two Olympic Games in two years instead of four years, we had strikes from other big sports, Nancy got hit on the knee (mumbled), um, we've had a few things, and um, it just seems that television has fallen in love with our sport and, um, we're up there increasing every year. I think it's gotta plateau pretty soon though.

Vicky: Are there more kids taking skating lessons because of all that, too?

Kurt: I would think so. I mean, when you're a child and you're watching something on television it leaves a big impression on you and I think that figure skating's a very positive sport to be in , you know, and it's something that kids do appreciate. We, in our show, Stars on Ice, we have a clown number and it's strictly geared towards the kids. Full on red nose...

Vicky: Are you in it?

Kurt: Oh yeah. I'm one of the clowns.

Vicky: Full on red nose.

Kurt: Full on red nose. Big feet. The whole thing. And I think kids think of us almost like cartoon characters that they can identify with.

Vicky: When you say you think it might plateau...circus kind of plateaued until Cirque du Soleil came along, and I wonder if skating shows need that kind of leap.

Kurt: Well, the ability to reinvent yourself is incredibly important. And it's actually one of the things I've learned from Scott Hamilton...to find your strength and to recreate it over and over again. you say I'll be able to skate for a long time...well that's up, I suppose, to my ability to get back on the ice year after year and to find some thing to give the people to talk about when they go home. And as a whole, a show has to be able to do that. And, um, we've been existing for ten years. And Sandra Bezic is our producer and our choreographer and she has to go back every year and go, 'Okay, now how am I going to be able to do this?' And we gets lots of re-occurring people who are very critical of the show...and our skating. Very knowledgeable of the sport.

Vicky: What do they say? What is the criticism?

Kurt: The criticism can be, 'You're not as good as last year!'(funny voice) And, that's, for us, that's a big challenge.

Vicky: (laughing) You're silly aren't ya? You're one silly guy.

Kurt: I take like pretty seriously. (winks)

Vicky: But when they say that to you, 'it wasn't as good as last year' and what do they say the year before?

Kurt: I tell them, 'Thanks for loving the show last year!' You've got to roll with...anytime you're very public...your job is very public. And I love my job so much...right up to the point where I hate it!

Vicky: And that's the point, isn't it? You've got to hate it sometimes. You can't just (gives a fake smile). You can't just love it all the time.

Kurt: No. You can't be glassy and people know...(gives a fake smile to the audience). See, they know it wasn't really. They're smart people.

Vicky: Because they're all skate officianados?

Kurt: Yeah, there's one here, I saw her on the way in. She had earrings. Skate earrings. (Demonstrating 'earrings' and looking around the audience for ME!)

Vicky: We'll get a shot of her later.

Kurt: Okay, we'll find her.

Vicky: You were an actor once. Didn't you act? You were in "Life After Hockey".

Kurt: Life After Hockey. Yeah, that was a little movie that I got to play an effeminate figure skater in. It was pretty fun. Acting is something that is part of our sport all the time, and um, but it's not usually with our voice, it's with our body and our movement.. and we move to music. So we act, but we don't enunciate our actions.

Vicky: Right, you don't have to talk. You don't have to remember any lines.

Kurt: But, in the show I yell..but it's in clownese.

Vicky: Right. But you're not afraid to...People that have an occupation where they're not required to talk all the time, such as skating...you don't have to address the public...you could be nervous about this.

Kurt: Could be.

Vicky: And you're not?

Kurt: Nah.

Vicky: Do you like doing the commentary on the skating?

Kurt: Yeah, I love commentary. It's fun. I got some really good advice once. The first time I ever commentated they said, 'just pretend you're sitting in a couch with a family who's watching figure skating and they get to watch with Kurt Browning. How could you make it more fun for them?' So I just pretend I'm in everyone's living room. But I haven't done commentary for awhile...I've been in the shows.

Vicky: Do you think that sometimes in the commentary that we talk too much?

Kurt: Yeah. Yeah. Especially me. Talk too much all the time.

Vicky: I didn't mean you particularly.

Kurt: Yeah, it's important to sit back and watch the tapes afterwards and just think, just let the skater be the star. Don't try and override what the skater's doing. They're there to watch them and you're there to help them watch them. You're not there to be the star.

Vicky: I hate it when they say, 'Ooh. Bad triple lutz!'

Kurt: Do ya?

Vicky: I think, 'How do I know?' I mean, if they don't fall on their head, I don't know that it's a bad triple lutz or a...I don't even know the difference between one or another.

Kurt: It depends on what kind of show it is. It's important to point it out if that will determine why the person came second instead of first. I don't like commentary that makes such a shadow casting down on the event, uh, I think that my job is to promote my sport, not to make it look bad, so if a skater's having a bad day, I don't want to make it look worse.

Vicky: Because you've had bad days.

Kurt: I've had bad days, so...we'll see. We're really talking about my next job, aren't we? We're doing that a lot in my career, in my interviews. Everyone wants to know what I'm going to do. When are you going to have kids?

Vicky: I'm not going to ask you that.

Kurt: Oh, you're not? Thanks.

Vicky: Bowling?

Kurt: I love bowling.

Vicky: Do you really?

Kurt: No.

Vicky: I can't skate and I can't bowl. But you have to tell me just one thing...and you can think about it between now while we're selling soap until we come back...which is, what is the difference...and you have to explain to me who knows not much about skating...the difference between that triple lutz and the double salchow? Except one is a two and one is a three...

Kurt: True. That's a good place to start. We'll work on that. I'll go get some books.

Vicky: Can't you just show me like this. (makes a spiral in the air with he finger)

Kurt: Yeah. I'll show you when we come back.

Vicky: Thank you very much. On the chair, more with Kurt Browning after the break.

(Fade to commercial. Kurt lifts his butt off the chair and kicks his legs in the air.)

(Coming back form commercial, there is a shot of the show's pianist, then a close-up of my earring and then a shot of me!)

Vicky: Nice earrings. Very cute earrings. It's like going to the, uh, you know, any kind of a professional...show. I was gonna say dog show, but it doesn't seem fair. Cat show.

Kurt: Right.

Vicky: Or horse shows, where they've got all the stuff, like scarves and gloves and...Do you have all that stuff? Skate stuff? Do people give you things like that?

Kurt: Um, yeah. People...people give us stuffed animals a lot.

Vicky: Do they?

Kurt: Yeah...

Vicky: They throw them on the ice at you?

Kurt: they must think we ingest them. I don't know...but, um...

Vicky: Do you give them away?

Kurt: Most of the time you're on the road so you can't really be carrying around...so a lot of orphanages and hospitals end up with flowers and stuffed animals.

Vicky: Like the Royal Family. Just go like this (makes a gesture of passing something along).

Kurt: Oh do they?

Vicky: Just pass it on I think.

Kurt: Touch it once and...

Vicky: Okay now the...I did ask the question...maybe it was a fool-hardy...

Kurt: Salchow and lutz, right?

Vicky: Oh yeah, sure.

Kurt: Um. Both were named after people who invented the jump.

Vicky: Mr. Salchow?!

Kurt: Ulrich Salchow. And I don't like that Lutz fellow, whoever, whatever he did. Okay, salchow. (stands up)

Vicky: Oh, you're gonna show me.

Kurt: Yeah. Off the left foot...if you jump toward counter-clockwise.

Vicky: You're going backwards?

Kurt: You're goin' backwards...you're cruisin'...you're hopin'...your prayin'...You stay on your left foot and swing your right foot through and you spin in the air like this and you (demonstrates a rather shaky landing position).

Vicky: And then you do that.

Kurt: And then you do that and you land it. The lutz uses the toe. (audience applauds) Wow.

Vicky: No wonder you're World Champion.

Kurt: Ta-da. The lutz uses your toe. (lifts his leg up straight out in front of him to demonstrate) You put that (grabbing his toe)in the ice, you go up and you land and that's what I don't do anymore. I don't do that jump anymore.

Vicky: No. Why? Is it too tough?

Kurt: Yeah. I leave it for the young people.

Vicky: When you are learning to do such a jump, um, do you, are you...you train on land first?

Kurt: A lot...lot of coaches will train kids to jump in the air first, like...I've never...I never ever did. Um. Sometimes we use harnesses. Elbow pads. Bum pads. Um. But when you're you, you know, you're fourteen or, or even eight or ten, learning these jumps, you have no respect for gravity or bruising so, uh, you just try it over and over again.

Vicky: That's why you've gotta be really young when you start this.

Kurt: Yeah.

Vicky: How old were you when you put on skates?

Kurt: Um, I was ten or eleven when I go figure skates.

Vicky: Right. And was it hockey before that?

Kurt: Hockey before that.

Vicky: And what made you want to do that? Figure skating?

Kurt: Um. There was...it was fun. I mean, every time I went figure skating it was very social. Hockey was great...and I play, I still play hockey...but figure skating was very, was so social and I think that's why I stayed with it.

Vicky: And you get to skate to music...

Kurt: Yeah.

Vicky: not growling guys.

Kurt: (growls) Dressing room smells better afterwards.

Vicky: Oh yeah, oh boy...Um, on this show already in the last year or so I've had Elvis...Stojko...and um, Oksana...and who's had a rough ride with this business, I think...

Kurt: Oksana? Yeah.

Vicky: And, uh, (pulls out Playboy).

Kurt: Katawina Vitta! (that's how his pronounced it)

Vicky: I'm the only living human being who has a copy of this magazine. And, you know, it just goes to show ya how Canadians are well-behaved...This thing, this Playboy magazine, has been sitting over there, and often times there are huge audiences...

Kurt: Signed?

Vicky: Signed.

Kurt: Is that on her shoulder?

Vicky: Yeah.

Kurt: On her shoulder.

Vicky: Yep. That's mostly on her shoulder. And, nobody's taken it.

Kurt: That's beautiful. Oh, Canada. Man, I love this place.

Vicky: It's a wonderful place, isn't it?

Kurt: Um, actually a lot of skaters are...um, the new World Champion, Maria Butyrskia was in Russian Playboy and Tonia Kwiatkowski, I think, was in German Playboy, so...

Vicky: She's started something now.

Kurt: She did.

Vicky: Well...I mean...I think it's...she's very strong.

Kurt: Katarina...Katarina's one of the most interesting people I've ever met.

Vicky: No kidding.

Kurt: She, uh, she's, she's more, more like a man than a woman...She...in the way that she has decided that women...

Vicky: Excuse me. (starts flipping through Playboy)

Kurt: Yeah. Halfway through a sentence have you ever wanted to rip it out of the air and put it back in your mouth?! (peers at the magazine) Katawina!

Vicky: Oh, let me get a good one.

Kurt: There's a bad one? Um...

Vicky: No. There isn't a bad one but...

Kurt: But she runs her life like, like...she orders the way she wants to live her life...there's no way that she doesn't...Work from the back, it's good...

Vicky: It's just...well I...

Kurt: I'll just put my hands over the parts and...

Vicky: Oh, it's just so silly and anyway...that we'd be antsy about it anyway...But I think it's a very interesting point that she is very methodical, she is very organized...

Kurt: She is. And she's a businesswoman.

Vicky: She absolutely is.

Vicky: So you have to rely on others.

Kurt: I do. I don't even pretend to be a business person. I don't.

Vicky: But see...

Kurt: But she does. She's great.

Vicky: Oh yeah. And a good skater.

Kurt: Yeah.

Vicky: But, you know, the only thing I was gonna say about this is... and I believe I said it to her...is that because these are nude shots of her, uh, it shows young women that you can have meat on your bones and be beautiful.

Kurt: True.

Vicky: Because she's strong as an ox and, you know, she...she has snappy and do. She's (does a muscle man pose)like that.

Kurt: Yeah, she is. You don't get in her way on the ice.

Vicky: No?

Kurt: No.

Vicky: Yeah, I guess. Knock ya right over?

Kurt: Oh yeah. Yep. Actually, I'll be seeing her tomorrow. I'm going to Germany, um, tomorrow.

Vicky: Well, she won't remember, but we have fond memories of her being here.

Kurt: I'll tell her about this.

Vicky: How's your bride?

Kurt: My bride is beautiful! She's at home...um...she's in the National Ballet of Canada so she doesn't get to travel with me too much and uh...

Pianist: Lots of 'ahs' from the girls over here.

Vicky: Sonia Rodriguez, right?

Kurt: Yes. Yeah.

Vicky: And I remember it was a big news event when you proposed to her.

Kurt: It was a big event when I proposed to her.

Vicky: Ah, you schluckmeister.

Kurt: I know.

Vicky: You did it on the ice, didn't you?

Kurt: Yeah. I, I didn't expect to do that. I had toyed with the idea of asking her to marry me, um, about six months earlier, and then I chickened out. I totally chickened out. And then, uh, I put it aside for awhile and said some divine intervention will tell me that it's time to ask...and it was the end of a show in Toronto, we'd just filmed a television special and, uh, we needed to do a few retakes with a few of the skaters, so I had the microphone. And to make a long story short, a little girl asked me if I was married, so I found my girlfriend at the time in the audience and, um, proposed. Right there.

Vicky: She got quite leaky didn't she?

Kurt: She was mad!

Vicky: She was mad at you?

Kurt: She was there, 'I'm gonna kill him, I'm gonna kill him, I'm gonna kill him...but I'll marry you...I'm gonna kill you later.'

Vicky: But she said yes, didn't she?

Kurt: Yeah, she said yes...

Vicky: With the camera looking for her...

Kurt: Yeah, we're set up. (shows his rings) There we go.

Vicky: You're set up. And does she teach you to dance?

Kurt: Um. She's taught me a lot about, uh, work ethic, that's for sure. But she doesn't work...

Vicky: Somebody had to do it.

Kurt: Yeah. Somebody had to step in and take control.

Vicky: So, we have some questions from the audience.

Kurt: Do you?

Vicky: So I'm going to relinquish control. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. But we'll be back.

Kurt: Thanks.

Vicky: Kurt Browning.

(Fade to commercial. Show a clip from 'Summertime')

Vicky: Kurt Browning is with me, and he's on the last leg of the Stars on Ice tour. Then you're going to...Germany?

Kurt: Germany tomorrow.

Vicky: From here?

Kurt: Yep. To visit Katarina.

Vicky: Oh, right. And...but...no go home? No, no underwear? No socks? Just...

Kurt: You've heard about how I travel?

Vicky: Well, yeah. Yeah, it's gettin' kinda dangerous now. So no going home. Okay, now we have this audience assembled here and they have requested to ask you some questions. It's, it's my job, but I'm going to turn it over to you. So I think we'll start with Murray. Murray.

Murray: Hi. My question to you: Early in your career when you trained in Edmonton, did you have a chance to skate with the Oilers? If so did you teach them anything? Did they teach you anything? And finally, did you get to hold the Stanley Cup?

Kurt: Uh, actually, all of the above. Uh, the Oilers, um...it was the 7- 75th anniversary of the NHL, each team was supposed to pick an honorary captain, so the Oilers chose me as their honorary captain, and that, with that honorary captainship came access to the dressing room...I got to practise with them...Glenn Sather let me on the ice during practice...

Vicky: Best dressed guy in the NHL, isn't he?

Kurt: Yeah. Sequins on the ice. It was pretty fun.

Vicky: Yeah.

Kurt: Yeah. No. I got all the equipment, and what I did was I practised with the injured players so that I wouldn't get in the way, um...It was the only way. (laughs) And, uh, yeah, so I got to, um, party with the Stanley Cup quite a few times. It was pretty fun.

Vicky: Pretty nice. Don't ever drink anything out of that cup.

Kurt: See? Figure skating got me closer to the NHL than my hockey ever did.

Vicky: Okay. Nicki, Nicki, Nicki. Are you Nicki? Hi, Nicki.

Nicki: Hi. I was just wondering, if you lost everything tomorrow, would you feel satisfied with your accomplishments or would you feel cheated out of something more you could have done?

Kurt: Okay, let, let me ask you a question. When you say I lost everything...

Vicky: Your mind...

Nicki: Your fame.

Kurt: My fame. If I was just normal...Absolutely. I've had the kind of career that most...I mean...you grow and you touch people's lives, and um, I'm sitting here talking to you and people don't forget meeting you in high school or they don't, you know, forget skating with you in one weekend because, because you've gone on and existed in their life...and I think it's been just the wildest ride to, to sit here and talk with you or to have you guys clap...

Vicky: I understand that dear. (Kurt kisses her hand.) This is the most exciting thing that ever happened to ya. (mockingly)

Kurt: But in, as an example of my day, getting to meet you guys and sit here and talk and have this fun...it's...Yes. I would be satisfied. There's nothing left in my career that I really, really, really need to do, except for have fun and stay healthy through the rest of it.

Vicky: But just that...I, I think that...If I may add to that...really and truly, if all of a sudden you couldn't skate any more...

Kurt: What would happen?

Vicky: Yeah. And all of a sudden you ended up in nowhere in some province, in Canada, and you were...you had a gas station or something...what...I mean, could you live like that? Could you live out of the limelight?

Kurt: I think I could because I wasn't looking for the limelight as a youngster...

Vicky: Right.

Kurt: but, but I really enjoy these interviews and I LOVE being at centre ice in front of the people, but um, I mean, I think that, that I'd be fine. I mean, I've got my love...

Vicky: To keep you warm.

Kurt: I've got my baby, so she'll keep me happy for the rest of my life.

Vicky: All right. She'll support you too, I suppose. Is she willing to do that?

Kurt: Oh yeah. If I quit skating tomorrow she'd be really happy. Come home, let's have a family!

Vicky: Ah. She sounds so nice! She's good lookin' too! Okay, so Michelle.

Michelle: Hi.

Vicky: Hi.

Michelle: I was wondering how it felt to be the first person to ever successfully complete a quadruple jump in world competition?

Kurt: How did it feel? I had, um, every dream that I would be the first one to do it. I mean, I was 22 years old going on sixteen and, uh, I just, I just was promised a car if I could land this one jump by this 'agent guy', so I went 'okay, no problem, I'll do it'. I was highly motivated by, um, by monetary return...when I, when I was 22.

Vicky: Did you get the car?

Kurt: I got the car for six months and then they took it away.

Vicky: See. Then when they...

Kurt: But yeah. But I was 22, driving a really nice car for six months, so I thought I was the coolest guy in the world.

Vicky: Yeah. Six months is forever to a guy that age.

Kurt: It was forever! It was a whole summer!

Vicky: That's all you need it for is the summer. After that you need chains.

Kurt: That's right. Yeah, you do. You need four-wheel drive. I was living in Edmonton at the time...It was wonderful!

Vicky: I was gonna ask you about Gretzky and what you thought of his retirement, but you know what, maybe we'll leave it for another day.

Kurt: I think he's going to be really happy.

Vicky: I guess he is going to be happy. They gave him an expensive car...just what he needs! You know, really, I mean, uh, what he needs is a nice Mercedes.

Kurt: What he needs is a blender...in his house.

Vicky: You've been to his house and he has no blender?

Kurt: He has no blender.

Vicky: You know everything, don't you?

Kurt: I do.

Vicky: You've go a lot of dirt on everybody, I'll bet.

Kurt: (with a sneaky smile) Another show.

Vicky: Another show. Kurt Browning, thanks my dear.

Kurt: Ah! Thanks, it's been fun. Thank you.