Kurt Browning will be in Hershey for Stars on Ice s  Now and Then.
Kurt Browning will be in Hershey for Stars on Ice s Now and Then. (SUBMITTED)
The skating rink has become Kurt Browning's second home.

It was where he headed after a recent interview from his home in Toronto. He had a Christmas show to work on.

But he was also looking forward to heading back to Lake Placid, N.Y. - the traditional place where Stars on Ice kicks off its tour.

"We have a long relationship with that town," Browning said. He added that in the town, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, skaters have restaurants and friends they make sure to visit when they return.

Browning also has a long relationship with Stars on Ice in Canada and America. He never missed a performance with the tour in 22 years and about 800 shows.

He'll be with the cast as it rings in 2013 in Hershey after a New Year's Eve performance at the Giant Center. It will be the start of Browning's last year with U.S. Stars on Ice.

The decision to end was made for him after the tour's visit to Japan was billed as his last. But Browning, 46, said he didn't mind. At 9 and 5, his kids are old enough to miss him when he's on the road for months at a time.

The four-time World Champion and the first skater to land a quad in competition said he knows it's time to cut back his training hours.

"Life keeps moving on," he added. That's part of the theme for the Stars on Ice's "Now and Then" tour. It features both up-and-coming skaters as well as seasoned pros like 1976 Olympic champion Dorothy Hamill.

Browning said this will be his first time working on a regular basis with Hamill.

"I didn't really think we'd ever (skate) together," he said. "It's one of those dream situations. We're going to do a duet together."

During another routine, Browning will make it rain on the ice. About 20 years ago, he was sitting in a boardroom with CBC executives who were working on a TV skating special. One asked Browning what he always wanted to do.

Memories of watching old movies with his mother flooded back to Browning. He told the executive that he always dreamed of recreating famous dance scenes in "Singin' in the Rain" at the rink.

He performed the part on the TV special years ago and is performing it for the first time live during his Stars on Ice farewell tour.

"It's really a gift to myself," he said. "It ties a bow on my career."

The routine's intricate footwork became a trademark of Browning's skating style. He said he followed the footsteps of Olympic Champion and Stars on Ice founder Scott Hamilton. Browning credits Hamilton as an inspiration.

"(Hamilton) wanted to create something that he felt made skaters better," Browning said of Stars on Ice. "I think that motivated me to want more from myself as a skater."

And, of course, jumps are another area where Browning pushed the envelope.

"Some things come easier than others," he admitted. "Footwork is something you can learn with practice. Jumps aren't going to come easily. (It takes) a certain type of body and bravery. I enjoy both. I love the sensation of flying through the air."

While his jumping days might be coming to an end, Browning has no intention of leaving the rink. He said he caught the choreography bug after he turned pro. And last year, he served as choreographer for the Stars on Ice tour.

And if Browning's not next to the rink, he might be above it as a CBC television broadcaster and skate competition commentator.

"It still kind of feel like I'm a part of that performance," he said. "What an honor that is."


If you go

See Stars on Ice "Now and Then" with Olympic Gold Medallist Dorothy Hamill, four-time World Champion Kurt Browning and many other skating stars 6 p.m. Monday at the Giant Center, 550 W. Hersheypark, Hershey. Tickets start at $27. On-ice seating and group discounts are available. Get tickets at the Giant Center box office, by phone at 717-534-3911 and online at www.ticketmaster.com


Kurt Browning's career highlights

Amateur:

1988: World Championships: Landed the first ratified quadruple jump - a toe loop - in competition

1989: First place in Canadian Figure Skating Championships and World Figure Skating Championships

1990: First place in Canadian Figure Skating Championships and World Figure Skating Championships

1991: First place in Canadian Figure Skating Championships and World Figure Skating Championships

1993: First place in Canadian Figure Skating Championships and World Figure Skating Championships

Pro:

1995-96 season: First place in Canadian Professional

Championships and World Professional Championships

1996-97 season: First place in US Professional Championships, Canadian Professional Championships and World Professional Championships

1997-98 season: First place in World Team Championships, Canadian Professional Championships and World Professional Championships

Source: www.kurtfiles.com


Online

Stars on Ice: www.starsonice.com

Kurt Browning: www.kurtfiles.com

Read an interview with Olympic Gold Medallist skater Sarah Hughes: www.yorkblog.com/flipside/celebrity-interviews