Skating into retirement

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

The further along it goes, the more emotional it becomes for Brian Orser.

One of Canada's greatest skaters is hanging up the blades at the end of the current Stars on Ice tour making a stop in Edmonton today (4 p.m.) at Rexall Place.

After a world championship title, an Olympic silver medal and 19 years as a performer, Orser, 45, is calling it a career.

"I've been thinking about this for a while and everything is falling into place. With the teaching and with the commitment required for that, I knew this was the time," Orser said. "In order to go 100% into the teaching part of it, which is what is required, I needed to devote t o it full time. I've been touring for so long, but now everything is in place for that transitions."

The current tour features a star-studded cast that includes, Kurt Browning, Jamie Sale, David Pelletier, Jeff Buttle, Todd Eldredge and Jennifer Robinson.

It also features skaters who recently competed at the world championships.

But Orser is the main attraction. It's his farewell tour and he closes the performance with a solo number.

"It's been great, almost overwhelming so far," Orser said. "I'm just overwhelmed because the audience is so gracious. I've been around for a long time and it's been the same fans for 19 years that come out and they've been very loyal and very supportive and it's been very nice."

Orser admits he's going to miss skating in front of an audience. He's also going to miss the camaraderie among the skaters on tour.

But now as a coach and with his star pupil - Korean skater Yu-na Kim - having won bronze at the recent world championships, he's ready for his life to head in a different direction.

"I've been working with her for about a year now," Orser said. "I was really lucky because I sort of just ran into her at my rink. She wanted me to teach her right from the very beginning.

"I taught her some lessons, but I didn't take her on as my student at first, only because I was still committed to these tours."

As a pioneer of the sport - he was one of the first to land a triple axel in competition - Orser's knowledge was sought out at his skating club in Toronto.

"It's exciting to have someone at the level to work with and to take to a world championship," Orser said.

Regardless of his new career path, Orser will always have a special place among Canadian skating fans.

He places his world championships win in 1987 as his fondest memory. But few days go by where he's not asked about the 1988 Olympics and the battle with American Brian Boitano.

It is considered the best men's Olympic skating competition in history, one where Orser came away with the silver medal.

"You think about it, it's 19 years later and people still remember the Battle of the Brians like it was yesterday," Orser said.

"It was such an incredible moment and for Brian Boitano too. Our paths have crossed a lot since then. More in later years we talked about how incredible it was and how life-altering that experience was.

"At the time we just took it for granted, went through it and were both striving to be the best. The media built up this hype and now we look back and say 'Wow that was huge.' "


Videos

Photos