The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Kurt Browning

Figure Skating

1990


Photograph of figure skater Kurt Browning

Photograph of figure skater Kurt Browning

Date
1990
Collection
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Quadruple-Less in Halifax

No Canadian man had ever done it. No, we’re not talking about the quadruple toe loop. Kurt Browning was already the victor in “the battle of the quad” two year’s earlier at the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships in Budapest, Hungary. That’s when he upstaged that year’s gold medal winner Brian Boitano who announced the quad was in his free skate program. One problem, Kurt Browning skated ahead of Boitano and he nailed it! Four revolutions in the air that happen so fast, most people can’t distinguish if it’s three or more; and then a requisite landing on one smooth blade no less; even those picky technical folks at the International Skating Union had to watch it on video before they gave it a thumbs up. The first ever in competition, it made headlines around the world. It also vaulted the up-and-comer to sixth overall and third in the free skate. Incidentally, Boitano gave it a whirl but landed on two blades.

This is about one sweet March night in 1990 at the Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when the talented young man who grew up in the small foothill town of Caroline, Alberta, pulled an ecstatic hometown Canadian crowd out of their seats. Kurt Browning took on a great young Russian by the name of Victor Petrenko in the World Figure Skating Championship, drawing upon the buoyant style that so distinguished him.

For Toller Cranston, the artistic figure skating pioneer who provided technical commentary, it was too close to call halfway through Kurt’s program. That’s when Kurt seemingly shifted gears. He got stronger throughout the routine, his jumps and footwork becoming more dynamic toward the end. He landed seven triples in all including a difficult Triple-Axel/Double-Loop combination. The crowd sent a convincing signal that they were witnessing an extraordinary moment. They were screaming and jumping on their feet at least half a minute before the program concluded. They called it; Kurt made history.

Kurt Browning became the only Canadian male to hold two World Figure Skating Championships; he did it back-to-back by defending his 1989 crown from Paris. He now shared the record book with the ‘Queen of Blades,’ Barbara Ann Scott, who managed the same in 1947 and 1948.

Ironically, he won both world titles without the ‘quad!’ He intended to do it in Halifax, but tripled out. That may have been a wonderful omen as a mistake then – which happens so easily on those quads – may have been the difference for Victor Petrenko. Instead Kurt relied on his fast footwork, technical skill, artistry, and showmanship to win over the crowds, and more importantly the judges!

Browning wins Marsh Award Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1988
First skater to successfully execute quadruple toe loop in competition
1988
Calgary Olympic Games - 8th place
1989, 1990, 1991, 1993
World Figure Skating Championships - Gold Medal
1990
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1990,1991
Lionel Conacher Trophy
1992
World Figure Skating Championships - Silver Medal