Kurt Browning and Shawn Sawyer – Reliving a preteen crush

Let’s face it. I wouldn’t have a blog about figure skating unless it consumed my life.

Tonight I was going through some figure skating videos on YouTube, two strange things happened.

The first: YouTube now requires that you enter in your Google account, and then you have to create a YouTube account.The second: If you have friends from your Google account, YouTube it finds them and says “hey, want to subscribe.” OK, so it doesn’t actually say that, but you get the point.

I clicked on all of my contacts, curious to see what kind of videos they offered. To my surprise, one of my contacts had recent uploads from the Sear 2010 Stars on Ice tour.

And more importantly, there was a video of three-time Canadian bronze medalist Shawn Sawyer. I’ve been a fan of Sawyer’s since I first set eyes on him at the 2005 BMO Canadian Championships in London, Ontario where he won the bronze medal. Sawyer reminds me so much of Kurt Browning, it was unbelievable.

In 1988, the CBC noon program, Midday, did a profile on Browning. I still have it on VHS – and his video, Jump. I also had pictures of him in my locker. Yes, for some girls it was Sebastian Bach, for me it was Kurt Browning. I was a Kurt girl all the way.

Even to this day when I watch back on some of Browning’s skating, especially the long programs, I get stressed out. Even though I know how he placed, I still get butterflies. That was nothing compared to when the Worlds and Canadians were live. I would clench a pillow and say “don’t fall, don’t fall, good, you landed it, you’re almost done, oh, no, OK, you’re fine.” It was like I was watching a toned down Stanley Cup final.

Since Browning retired from the amateur ranks, there have been some great male figure skaters coming from Canada: Jeffery Buttle, Emanuel Sandu and Patrick Chan to name a few. But Shawn Sawyer’s programs are full of fast and free footwork, much like Browning’s. And he and Kurt have the same jumping style. I even find that when I watch him skate, I go through the same emotions I did when I used to watch Browning.

Even though Sawyer hasn’t catapulted to Canadian and World championship gold medals as Browning did, I believe it is more important to move people emotionally. That is a talent that he and Sawyer share – to be able to reach back into the dark corners of the arena and draw people into their performance.

And that’s a talent that can’t be taught.


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