But there are stark realities to mounting any figure skating venture in the 21st century economy. These are not skating’s mid-1990s salad days. It’s now more like consommé, but Browning sees that as a challenge.
And it was certainly a challenge. Whereas the cast once trained for three weeks and had another 10 days or so to work out technical details in Lake Placid, this year the rink wasn’t available for such a long stretch and neither was the financing. In a very rocky American economy, which has been a death sentence for every other skating tour, Stars didn’t have a full title sponsor in the U.S. And there were only 10 shows stateside, two fewer than there are on the Canadian tour.
So, Browning had only three days to work with, and some of his original concepts — including Supertramp and a reprise of his legendary Singin’ in the Rain routine — were put on hold. They’re both on his skating “bucket list” and as his performing career winds down (“I still have no idea how long I’ll do this.”), he’ll make sure that he fulfils both “leftover wishes.”
“I would not allow Stars on Ice to look like anything but Stars on Ice,” Browning vows. “I have a lot personally involved in Stars on Ice. It’s basically been my identity. I pack my lunch box and I go to work for the last 20 years. Where I go is to Stars on Ice.
“We’re all working under a new environment, which is constrictive, yes, but skating is very much alive.”