Kurt Browning discusses the pressure of defending his World Figure Skating Championship in 1990. He explains how hard he worked and the difficulty of skating with an injured toe. In 1991, he remembers successfully executing the triple-triple combination to win his third straight title and recalls winning the Lionel Conacher Award twice.

Creator: Bruce Weir

© 2012, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. All Rights Reserved.


Transcript

Being a World Champion was hard and Halifax was very important for some pretty obvious reasons. It was in Canada, my family was there, my friends were there, they flew out. It was it was huge. It was also the last competition that compulsory figures were ever involved. And I had put many thousands of dollars and hours into compulsory figures, so my coach Michael Jiranek was very proud of my figures. Needed to win this competition for all sorts of reasons. It was the last chance to use those figures. And I was defending World Champion but I was more on the defensive actually. I had a sore toe which sounds like nothing, but try and shove it in a skate and make it work. To look back after that win in Halifax and to see that I was the only male athlete from Canada in our sport, my sport to ever have won it twice, let alone back-to-back was, it was kind of an awakening to what could be. I will tell you, when I went to Germany I not only didn’t feel any pressure but I knew I was going to win. I was one cocky young man. And everything that I’d gone through when I won Worlds in ’89, getting to the World Championships in Halifax was awful, it was truly awful. It was no sleep, it was injuries, trauma, the world was trying to figure out who Kurt Browning is, there was a lot of media. And being a World Champion got me all nervous. I was over that, over it and I had a game plan that I just thought Viktor Petrenko is not touching me. I have all these triple-triple combinations, got my quad. The triple-triple combinations happened for a distinct reason. My coach Michael Jiranek told me I was not going to win and that it was Viktor Petrenko’s turn to win, that the judges and the skating media and everyone was going towards him. And I said well that’s not fair, we haven’t competed yet. And he goes, “Well what are you going to do about it?” So I came up with a game plan of having these triple-triple combinations, and it was kind of like trying to hit two home runs at once. It was, it was farther than anybody had sort of stretched the triple thing at that time. But I thought it was my only chance to win. And I only did that program clean once before the World Championships, just once. But after doing it, it was about seven days before I left and after that I went, “At least I know now I can do it.” And it wasn’t clean, I popped my quad but I did get in three triple-triples which set a record.

I was the first figure skater to ever win the Lionel Conacher Award. It was a weird feeling to be honest. The first one was exciting and fun and wow, I won in Canada and somehow it made sense. The second one, even in my own heart I was thinking really, did I win? But my friends, my friends who love hockey they didn’t, they didn’t let it go quietly into the night. “What do you mean you’re better than Wayne or better than Mario?” I’m like “Come on it’s not my fault, I didn’t pick, it was the press.” They say, “Yeah come on, get over yourself.” So I didn’t really get a big head over that one. My friends kept me pretty humble.


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