“This is starting to become a tradition,” world champion figure skater Kurt Browning said, as he waited for the ice resurfacer at Lou Jeffries Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre to finish its laps around the ice.
Browning, along with his wife, Alissa Czisny, were in attendance on Friday for a one-day seminar, from 8:30 a.m. to about 7 p.m.
This is Browning’s sixth annual event in Gananoque, along with Kingston and the Napanee area.
“This is something I don’t have to do,” said Browning, who is retired from performing but will be the choreographer for the Stars on Ice tour this spring. “But I like to do it to give back, not only to the youth but the skating community.”
The seminar was for Skate Canada skaters and coaches of all ages, with on- and off-ice activities as well, like dance and jump classes.
“And on-ice stuff with Alissa, who is one of the best skaters in the world, and Kurt, who is known as the most amazing guy, who just happens to be a world champion, too,” said Sharon Nixon, an organizer and head coach with the Gananoque Skating Club.
There’s familiarity with Browning and the figure skaters from the area who attend these now annual events. Organizers say it’s usually the same crew of skaters who take part every year.
“I see a lot of people because I do these all over, but you do remember some faces,” said Browning. “And with that, you do see their growth from year to year. It’s great seeing the kids’ faces light up when they do that certain something finally right, or maybe they were nervous to try something on the ice last year but they’ve gotten to a place where they feel like they can achieve it this year.”
Nixon described having two figure skaters like Browning and Czisny, who have such rich resumes in the sport of figure skating, hosting a seminar for a smaller populated community like Gananoque, as a “big deal.”
“It’s amazing to have the same person come,” said Nixon. “He’s the same guy you see on television. He’s down to earth. He’s one of the kids, right? It’s great to see someone you aspire to be, someone you look up to on television actually come to a smaller, local arena and spend the day with everybody of all ages and all skating abilities.”
Around 40 skaters participated throughout the day on Friday, with about 12 coaches.