Ice Time with Debbi Wilkes
Feb. 13, 2000
transcript written by Kirsten
Here's my transcript of the interview Debbi Wilkes did with Kurt =
Browning during the February 13th, 2000 episode of Ice Time...with a few =
comments of my own in brackets. :-)
DW: Debbi Wilkes
KB: Kurt Browning
DW: Welcome back to Ice Time. He is 4-time World Champion but back in =
1987, Kurt Browning was ranked only 15th in the world. What a difference =
a year would make--by the time he hit Calgary and the Olympic Games with =
his coach, Michael Jiranek, he might have had stars in his eyes, but the =
details of the Calgary experience remain etched there forever. At =
Canadians and back in the Saddledome, Kurt called up those memories.
KB: Actually, I remember Brian, you know, like everyone else. I remember =
playing Frisbee outside with a short-sleeved T-shirt on.
DW: We had a chinook.
KB: I remember meeting Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsled team =
asking for directions to the bus. Umm, I remember standing on top of a =
bar at Electric Avenue with my coat on waving to the traffic and having =
traffic stop and everyone wave back. Free drinks at every bar I went to. =
Calgary was a dream; it wasn't real. I mean, it was absolutely =
DW: How much of it was Olympics and how much of it was just being at =
home in the West? (clip of Kurt taking the ice for his LP at the 1988 =
KB: It was my first Olympics and at the time I just thought that all =
Olympics were like this. You went to the Olympics and especially when I, =
the couple of years before the Olympics, I just thought that when you =
got to the Olympics everything happened perfectly. I really did because =
it was the Olympics. Like, I'd never seen the guy who did splat on Wide =
World of Sports. I guess Calgary was...everything just about went =
perfect. Even figures, the short program I skated clean after 7 guys =
skated clean before me. (clip of Kurt finishing his 1988 Olympic LP) I =
just think that Calgary was literally, and I didn't know at the time, =
one of the highlights of my career, certainly, certainly, my Olympic =
DW: The first time I ever heard about you was through Brian Pockar, who =
told me way back when you were a junior, "Watch this guy; he's amazing!" =
I have a confession--I watched you and I said to Brian "Hmm." (Meaning =
Debbi thought Kurt was just "so-so" the first time she saw him. BTW, you =
can actually hear Debbi and Brian arguing over Kurt's choreography when =
he won 1985 Junior Canadians--very funny! It's also interesting to note =
that Debbi had basically the same first impression about G&G at 1986 =
Worlds! Kirsten) Now is there ever egg on my face because you have to be =
one of my most favorite skaters of all time.
KB: I've been able to create a place on the ice that I'm comfortable and =
in doing so, I've been able to make my audience comfortable and I think =
that's one of the things that has made me successful. (clip of Kurt's =
"Antares" SP at 1999 Canadian Open) If you say I'm one of your favorite =
skaters then I think that's probably why. I enjoy other people and I =
enjoy the potential of the next 10 seconds of this program or how great =
this program would be but how much better it would be if I could throw =
an Axel into it or...I've just enjoyed it so much and I think that it's =
contagious--it comes from me to you.=20
DW: How did Michael handle you? Did he try to control you?
KB: I think I was probably really fun to teach but hard to steer.
DW: Yeah, it's hard to get focused.
KB: And he didn't try to control me too much, when I think back. He =
allowed me to be me and then as I turned professional, I had to then =
really learn how to be professional, as the word states it. As an =
amateur, I knew how to peak in March. Skate Canada, I'd skate terrible. =
Divisionals was awful and if there was only 300 people in the audience, =
then I couldn't do a thing. There had to be 18,000 people and lots of TV =
cameras before I could skate well. And now as a professional, I've found =
a way to reproduce some magic, a little bit here and there every night =
and that, for me, I think, is the farthest I've come.
DW: How do you decide what it is you're going to do? What kind of =
program and what sort of music you're going to choose?
KB: That's a good question. I don't, actually--usually I don't consider =
myself the best source of my next solo. Sandra Bezic, Louis Stong has =
picked some music and his wife, of course and together, Casablanca was =
implicated by them. And Jef Billings does great costumes--I've been =
really lenient with my image and have loaned it out to great people and =
it's given me good work...Christopher Dean and Michael Seibert and even =
Doug Ladret did a great program for me. I mean, I don't mind--I just =
toss it out there and get good stuff back!
DW: It's interesting that you work with all of these other people and =
you never feel threatened about who you are or losing who you are. =
(another clip of Kurt skating "Antares" at 1999 Canadian Open)
KB: If I look at somebody, you know, that I respect and they say, "I =
think you should skate to this." I mean, you know, I get a thousand =
ideas from everywhere you go. But if there's someone I want to work =
with, then if they think I can do it, then I know I can.
DW: Have you got a favorite all-time program?
KB: Uh, yeah, same as most everyone else. It's...Singing in the Rain is =
my all-time favorite (clip of "Singing in the Rain" from You Must =
Remember This) and it's a unique situation that happened only once with =
the rain machines and the beautiful set and the ability to recreate, for =
me, which is one of my favorite moments in any movie which was that =
movie. So, for me, I mean, lots to choose from, but that's my favorite.
DW: Fans will be interested; so am I--what are your plans for the =
future? Any new TV specials?
KB: Yeah, we might do one more TV special. You know, I'm trying to...I'd =
like to incorporate my wife into working with me somehow...(clip of Kurt =
and Sonia in the kiss and cry area at 1999 Canadian Open) an incredible =
talent that's right beside me and you know, we just haven't got around =
to joining it somehow.
DW: She's a dancer...
KB: Of course, sorry! (drops his voice to a whisper) My wife is a dancer =
with the National Ballet of Canada (returning to normal voice) and that =
would be something I would like to do. Another TV special, but I'm so =
busy with just, you know, I'm just enjoying my personal life and just, =
my family and touring with Stars on Ice and that, right now, is all I =
need to keep me happy.
DW: What would you consider your biggest disappointment and your biggest =
thrill? (clip of Kurt falling during his SP at the 1994 Olympics)
KB: I should say that not getting a medal at the Olympics is my biggest =
disappointment but I'm not sure that's it.
DW: Would your life be any different?=20
KB: Exactly! I mean, the Olympics, as Scott Hamilton says, it changes =
you to be a better person. It doesn't matter what happens, you come out =
of the Olympics, you know, a more solid individual. So it's not a bad =
thing...I wouldn't be...I wouldn't have my wife if I had won! (laughing) =
(Since Kurt and Sonia were dating at the time of the 1994 Olympics, I =
originally thought this last statement made absolutely no sense, but =
after rewatching the interview I began to figure it out...Kurt has =
stated several times that he would have turned pro back in 1992 had he =
skated well at *those* Olympics. In which case, he probably wouldn't =
have moved to Toronto in the summer of 1992 and probably wouldn't have =
met and married Sonia! :-) That's just my interpretation, though! =
Kirsten) and you know, I just, I don't know what it was...my biggest =
DW: And biggest thrill?
KB: Biggest thrill...I suppose...carrying the flag at the Olympics was =
really one of my biggest thrills. Skating with Brian Orser in a duet in =
Edmonton at Stars on Ice after I was world champion was really a thrill =
for me. (clip of Kurt and Brian skating together in matching blue and =
red sequinned outfits at 1989 Champions on Ice) (I'm embarassed to =
correct Kurt on that last statement, but the tour where Kurt and Brian =
performed that number together in 1989 was Champions on Ice, not Stars =
on Ice. At the time, Champions on Ice was an all-Canadian tour similar =
in format to Skate The Nation...although not to be confused with the Tom =
Collins tour, which was something different altogether! Sorry, Kurt! =
DW: I remember that number.
KB: Yeah, and I wore his costume, too! You know, it's not always the big =
wins, you know. (clip of Kurt's quad at 1989 Worlds) Doing the quad was =
a huge thrill, but doing it 10 years later in Stars on Ice in the United =
States on the exact same day that I did it was maybe something that I =
respected better. I don't know; lots of things to choose from.
DW: Thank you. It's a real treat to have you with us today. =
Congratulations on your induction.
KB: (imitating trumpet fanfare) Thank you.
DW: Kurt Browning, one of my all-time faves.