Kurt Browning likes to joke that he’s old. At 44, that’s really only by figure skating standards. Still, the former four-time world champion is what he calls the “veteran-ist” of the performers taking over the Verizon Center this Sunday for the 25th anniversary of Smucker’s Stars on Ice tour.
He’ll be sharing the rink with some of the sport’s biggest names, including Olympic medalists Evan Lysacek and Sasha Cohen. But rather than try to compete with their flashy moves, Browning says his role is to play the storyteller and remind audiences of the history of the show. His solo number toys with the idea of what’s going through these athletes’ minds. “It’s ‘Did I forget my cell phone in the hotel?’ and ‘My knee hurts,’” explains Browning. “But halfway through, I realize I’m doing what I love and I should shut up and skate.”
That’s pretty much his workout plan these days, too — constant performing is what’s keeping him in shape. When he’s on his own, Browning’s pre-skating ritual involves stretching in a steam room. But before each show on this tour, he instead sets aside time for a 30-minute soccer match with his co-stars. “We just put two chairs down for the goals anywhere, and we play hard,” he says. It’s competitive and bonding, but mostly, it’s fun. “We’re not just standing in a tunnel waiting,” he adds.
Don’t expect this to be the last you see of Browning, who’s started commentating for Canadian television but plans to keep his feet in the rink as long as possible. “The other day I was goofing around with an entrance to a jump, and I realized in 34 years of skating and 30 years of doing that jump, I’d never done that entrance,” he says. So, there’s always something new to discover, even for such an old-timer.
If Browning were your coach, he’d offer these tips:
» Keep your body on a lean. “A good skater is hardly ever standing straight up.”
» Wear padding. It lets you have fun without worrying so much about falling.
» Loosen up. When you inevitably hit the ice, you’re less likely to get injured if you can fall into a roll.
» Tickets are $28-$143. The performance is at 4 p.m. this Sunday at the Verizon Center (601 F St. NW; Starsonice.com).
Photo by Paul Harvath/Courtesy Stars on Ice