What Browning has to say ...

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:43 PM ET

Kurt Browning is more than just a casual observer when the Canadian Figure Skating Championships roll around.

He'll soon be a Hall of Famer observer. As a four-time national and four-time world champion, Browning takes a vested interest in the men's program.

He sees January's national event in Ottawa as a two-horse race.

''We haven't had a great rivalry between our men's champions Emanuel (Sandhu) and Jeffrey (Buttle),'' said Browning. ''It seems like they take turns skating well. They don't skate well at the same event. So it's not like there is this huge rivalry. It's a question of who is going to do it this time.''

With three Olympic spots on the line, the event is taking on extra meaning for Canada's top skaters. Edmonton's Ben Ferreira is considered one of the favourites to earn that third Olympic berth.

''Going into the Canadians, Jeffrey, I think, has the advantage,'' said Browning. ''But it seems that Emanuel has proven, with this new system, the fact he can't put two consistent programs together - which he rarely does - doesn't seem to matter as much now. He doesn't take himself out of the running like he used to.''

Browning, who still skates professionally, has seen the sport change.

''The biggest thing that has changed is the rule changes,'' he said.

''I like the new rules, but my biggest complaint is that everything is so defined ahead of time, that all the skaters are starting to look similar.

''I guess I'm sort of old school. Back in my day, the Russian skaters looked like Russian skaters, the Germans looked like Germans, the Canadians looked like Canadians and we all got to Worlds and we could see who is who. Now it's all blended so much.''


Videos

Photos