Kurt Browning has come to understand the meaning of the word "busy".With the second season of Battle of the Blades premiering on CBC this fall, his hectic schedule shows no signs of slowing down. Following a successful and memorable first season, the iconic athlete will be acting as both a co-host and mentor, coaching the athletes as they transition from hockey players to figure skaters, and offering more behind-the-scenes footage to audiences set to watch contestants brave an entirely new form of competition.
A four-time World Champion, four-time Canadian Champion and inductee into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Browning has epitomized the concept of jet-setter, representing Canada all over the world, and making his country, fans and fellow athletes proud in the process. Currently married to Sonia Rodriguez - a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada - the former Albertan now calls Toronto home, and gladly takes advantage of the city's culture, aesthetic and liveliness during the eight to nine months he's here.
What's your day job?
My day job is practicing skating so that I can perform skating later that day. Unless I'm talking about skating on CBC or choreographing skating - when I'm not doing the skating or talking about the skating! Did I mention skating?
What project are you working on right now?
As I write this, I am waiting for a plane after making a presentation in Montreal for CBC about their fall schedule for 2010 - [there] I spoke about the show [currently] in its second season called Battle of the Blades.
I look forward to hosting with Ron MacLean as we watch eight new hockey players take their chances performing to music with a skating partner. The show will hit the airways in late September, I believe. Last year was a fantastic success that we hope to build on.
What do you like most about living in Toronto?
Being a father, I enjoy getting out to the Science Centre to play and learn - there's something there for the whole family. Also, Ontario Place is great. Sticking with the family theme, Ferraro's is great as my son is always made to feel special there.
How often does your job take you out of the city?
There was a stretch in my career - about eight years - when I was away from home six to eight months a year. Now that number is down to about three to four.
Where have you been to recently and what were you up to there?
In the last few months, I've been skating in Japan, Florida, Switzerland and 12 cities across Canada with Stars on Ice. Working for different televised events has taken me to Hartford and Torino, Italy. [I'm] always on the move for one reason or another.
Do you fly coach, business or first class?
Depends, but mostly coach. It's great to fly first class and when it happens. I enjoy the attention and the goodies, but really the most important thing is a safe landing.
Any travel tips for us?
Go to the airport early to relieve stress. Some people say they hate the wasted time after security if the process goes quickly, but I plan ahead with work or some DVDs I like to watch. Never leave home with a full suitcase, and travel with good will towards everyone. Good Karma goes a long way.
Other than friends and family, what do you miss most about Toronto when you're away?
I miss being familiar with my home city. I like the skyline and the Distillery District and the access to water that our downtown has.
I look forward to annual parties like Walk of Fame and the Bell Celebrity Evening. Queen Street is cool, too - too cool for me, maybe - and I like our National Ballet of Canada where I get to watch my wife Sonia dance.
What ideas have you seen someplace else that you think someone should start or create in Toronto?
It would be great to have a boardwalk like in Atlantic City with fun shops and attractions. How about a subway system that takes you all over the city - like to the airport, maybe? That's a big request.
Where are you off to next and why?
My next trip is a family vacation to Spain to visit my wife's family. After that, it's time to get some hockey players to give the figure skates a try. Brave souls!