Canadian figure skating sensation Kurt Browning, a four-time world champion, hosted a skills clinic in Kentville Oct. 21.
KENTVILLE - Several figure skaters throughout the Annapolis Valley can scratch one-on-one time with four-time world champion Kurt Browning off of their bucket lists.
There was no shortage of laughs – or stunts – when Browning and master coach Doug Haw joined Valley skaters on the ice of the Kentville Centennial Arena for a skills clinic Oct. 21.
“I enjoy them because I get to get into a situation where I might inspire somebody to enjoy their skating a little bit more,” said Browning, who graciously signed autographs for adoring fans in between sessions.
“Today we’ve been really harping on where on the blade to skate because I feel like once you start skating on the right spot on the blade it changes everything else.”
Browning’s love of ice sports started at a young age.
“At the very beginning there was an older boy who I really looked up to that had figure skates… I wanted to be cool like he was.”
He loved hockey, but quickly became fascinated with the sport that allowed him to – quite literally – fly solo.
“Once I start jumping… I jumped everything,” he said.
From Stars on Ice to Kentville’s Centennial Arena, the animated Browning says skating is about enjoying the glide.
“My seminar is as much entertainment as it is learning because I feel that a lot of skaters get on the ice and they worry so much about the next jump that they have to land and the next level or the competition,” said Browning, a three-time Winter Olympics competitor hailing from Alberta.
“They forget that you’re gliding, and you’re flying and you’re jumping and you’re spinning.”
Figure skating is a character building sport that rewards hard work, Browning stressed.
“It’s gotta come from within. God given talent only takes you so far and you really have to sort of know that you are the caretaker of your own talent and you’re the one that has to be in charge of your own destiny,” he said.
“You decide to stay longer. You decide to work harder. You decide to spend some time and just close your eyes and enjoy the glide.”
Cheryle Gaston, a figure skating coach in the Annapolis Valley, says the event was organized by a committee that represents seven clubs spanning from Digby to Hants County.
“It’s our mandate to try to provide opportunities for the skaters in this region and that’s what this is about,” said Gaston.
“It’s actually been a dream of mine to get Kurt to come… one of the messages that they get, especially from him because he comes from a really small town, is that it’s possible if you work hard and you decide what you’re going to do, that you can follow your dreams and really get somewhere.”
Gaston hopes the inspiration from Browning will give the Valley athletes competing in provincials in a few weeks a competitive edge.
“They will ride this high,” she said.