I think Kurt Browning is an extrovert ... a good kind of extrovert. He uses his outgoing personality as one to play to the audience, to play to the judges, to play to his own coach, and but most of all to play to himself. He kind of lilts out there. He makes it easy. The pressure is gone. He's a much better skater for it.
- Johnny Esaw
Kurt Browning, 4 time World Figure Skating Champion
Kurt Browning is an awesome figure skater. He is a 3 time Olympian, 4 time World Champion, 4 time Canadian Champion. He holds the record as being the first skater in the world to ever land a quadruple jump (That is, a jump where one rotates 4 times while in the air) in competition. His genius, however, is not so much in his technically prowess, it's in the way he projects his emotions when he's skating. He'll be skating and have this big grin on his face. You can tell he's having fun, and you're having fun watching him.
Kurt has been honoured many times for his accomplishments, including being inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the Canadian Walk of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1989, he was invested as a member of the Order of Canada, the country's 3rd highest civilian honour. In 1998, he was awarded the Jacques Favart Trophy, the most prestigious trophy given by the International Skating Union. In addition, in 2004, as part of the CBC's The Greatest Canadian series, he was chosen as the 84th greatest Canadian of all time. And, most importantly, he's the only Olympic Athlete that I personally have ever seen naked.
Kurt Browning was born on June 18, 1966 in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Neva and Dewey Browning. He was raised in rural southern Alberta, the village of Caroline to be specific. Like many rural Canadians, Kurt played hockey. He started out on a makeshift rink his father created by flooding the backyard during the winter. When he was 6 years old, the Caroline Arena (Now the Kurt Browning Arena) was built, and all the kids started skating there throughout the year. Kurt initially started figure skating in order to get more skate time in, to get better at hockey. Thankfully, he soon figured out that he was better at figure skating than he was at hockey, and started focusing on that full time.
Kurt has an older brother, and an older sister, Wade and Dena respectively. They are, however, older by a fairly large margin, so Kurt's parents were able to devote a lot of time to helping his skating career. At the age of 16, Kurt first competed in the Canadian figure skating championships, placing 12th in the novice category. The next year, he won that age group, and the year after won the junior category.
From that point on, his career started taking off. He competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics, held in Calgary, Alberta, not too far from his hometown in Caroline. He came in 8th in the Olympics that year, and later on that year came in 6th at the World Championships in Budapest, where he landed the first Quadruple toe loop jump in the world. During this time, his coach was Michael Jiranek, and he trained at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton, along with a number of Canadian figure skaters. While I was living in Edmonton, my family had a membership to said club, and I even once was presented an award by Kurt, although it was a plaque for Most Improved Bowling. And, since I know some of you are wondering, it was in the locker room there that I saw him naked. Oh, and his vehicle's licence plate was (and maybe still is) "1STQUAD".
Kurt went on to win the Canadian and World Championships in 1989 - 1991, as well as 1993. He unfortunately missed out on the 1992 competition due to injuries. He did compete in the 1992 Albertville Olympics, coming in a somewhat disappointing 6th. It was in 1991, in Edmonton that he first met Sonia Rodriguez, a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. They started dating in 1992, when Kurt moved from Edmonton to Toronto. He switched coaches at that time, and started training with Louis Stong at The Granite Club. For the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, he was the flag bearer for Canada's team. He ended up coming in 5th, then he decided it was time to move on, announcing his retirement from amateur athletics. It was time for Kurt to skate professionally.
Kurt's greatest strength was his tremendous musicality. He could go from very classical, even opera or ballet music, to hard rock and roll.
- coach Louis Stong
Kurt had kept himself busy since then. Skating with Champions on Ice, Stars on Ice, Ice Wars, and the Pro Championships. He has won the World Pro Championships 3 times since then. He has been the spokesman for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, as well as doing work to promote literacy in Canada.
In 1995, while at a Stars on Ice performance at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, during a break he was doing a little question and answer session with the audience. One of the kids there asked him if he was married. So, he said "Where are you, hon?" and located Sonia in the audience, proposing to her then and there. Luckily she said yes, otherwise that would have been VERY embarrassing. They were married the next year.
In 1991, Kurt published his autobiography, Kurt: Forcing the Edge. He also had a television specials. 1990 saw the broadcast of Tall in the Saddle, filmed in his hometown of Caroline, and featuring appearances from Kristi Yamaguchi, Michael Slipchuk, Gary Beacom, and Norm Proft. The Canadian Film Board made Life on the Edge, a 1992 documentary about his career, focusing on his rivalry with Viktor Petrenko. And, there was You Must Remember This, produced by the CBC in 1994. It features Kristi Yamaguchi, Josee Chouinard, Christine Hough and Doug Ladret. It also features Kurt in a very memorable on-ice rendition of Singing in the Rain, complete with rain. The program won 5 Gemini Awards.
He has started choreographing, both for Stars on Ice, and for Olympic Champions Tara Lipinski, Jamie Sale & David Pelletier. In 2003, his wife gave birth to a son, Gabriel. He seems to have begun focusing less on his own skating, and more on other people's skating, and various television appearances, many of them for charity. Personally, I think this is a shame, because Kurt Browning was always the figure skater whom I enjoyed watching skate the most. He was just the one having the most fun.
In Canada: International:
1994 Canadians - 2nd 1994 Olympics - 5th
1993 Canadians - 1st 1993 Skate Canada - 1st
1991 Canadians - 1st 1993 Worlds - 1st
1990 Canadians - 1st 1992 Worlds - 2nd
1989 Canadians - 1st 1992 Olympics - 6th
1988 Canadians - 2nd 1991 Lalique - 1st
1987 Canadians - 2nd 1991 Worlds - 1st
1986 Canadians - 5th 1990 Nations Cup - 1st
1985 Canadians - 1st (jr) 1990 Skate Canada - 1st
1983 Canadians - 1st (nov) 1990 Goodwill Game - 1st
1982 Canadians - 12th(nov) 1990 Worlds - 1st
1989 NHK - 3rd
1989 Skate America - 3rd
1989 Worlds - 1st
1988 NHK - 3rd
1988 Skate Canada - 1st
1988 Skate Electric - 1st
1988 Worlds - 6th
1988 Olympics - 8th
1987 Skate Canada - 4th
1987 St Ivel - 2nd
1987 Worlds - 15th
1986 NHK - 7th
1986 Oberstdorf - 3rd
1986 St. Gervais - 2nd
1985 St. Gervais - 2nd
1985 Oberstdorf - 9th
1996 The Ultimate Four Challenge - 4th
1996 World Professional Championships - 1st
1996 Canadian Professional Championships - 1st
1996 U.S Professional Championships - 1st
1996 Fox's Rock n'Roll Championships - 2nd
1995 Canadian Professional Championships - 1st
1995 World Professional Championships - 1st
1995 The Ultimate Four Challenge - 1st
1995 World Challenge of Champions - 4th
1995 Starlight Challenge - 1st
1995 Fox's Rock n'Roll Championships - 2nd
1994 Canadian Professional Championships - 3rd
1994 World Professional Championships - 4th
1994 World Challenge of Champions - 3rd
1994 Paris Miko Masters - 2nd
Elijah Harper - #83 << Greatest Canadian Number #84 >> Emily Carr - #85
John H. Baker, "Biography," KurtKountry: An Unofficial Kurt Browning Website. <kurtkountry.tripod.com/newkb/id1.html> (December 11, 2004).
Carol Wang, "A Kurt Browning Fan Page," skate.org. June 29, 1998. <www.skate.org/browning> (December 11, 2004).
Toepix.com. "Bio and FAQ," Kurt Browning A Star Among the Stars. <www.toepix.com/kbhome/index.html> (December 11, 2004).
Tina Tyan, "Kurt Browning," The Kurt Files. <www.kurtfiles.com/index.php> (December 11, 2004).
Sita Ismangil, "A Kurt Browning Frequently Asked Questions Page," skate.org. June 3, 1997. <www.skate.org/browning/faq.html> (December 11, 2004).