High expectations

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- It's been called The Orser Effect.

But you could also call it the Browning Effect.

Do you really want to win the gold at the World Figure Skating Championships the year before the Winter Olympics -- particularly a home country Olympics like Orser at Calgary '88?

It's a debate Kurt Browning says he's been having with himself involving Patrick Chan and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games for quite a while now.

"I've had this discussion with a lot of different personalities within myself," is how Browning put it four hours before Chan was placed a highly controversial third in the short program.

UNBELIEVABLE

Brian Orser went into the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games as the defending world champion. The pressure was unbelievable. He lost the Battle of the Brians to American Brian Boitano because he dropped a triple Axel and came out of another triple poorly.

Orser was viewed as a failure while under-hyped Liz Manley also won a silver medal for Canada and ended up as a heroine. Browning twice went to the Olympics and failed to win a medal at all as the defending world champion.

"The statistics are spooky with what happened to Brian and twice to myself," said Browning of Albertville and Lillehammer Olympics. He could add Elvis Stojko in Nagano '98 to the stat.

"There's no logic to it. If you can win a world title, win it. You may not get another chance. There's injury. And you never know who else may come along," said Browning having the argument with himself again.

"But with Brian it was like with an actor. For six or eight months the character he was playing consumed him. It wasn't so much that with me in Albertville at my first Olympics. My injury consumed me. It was like going into a gun fight with a pen knife."

Browning then told a story.

"I found a tape recorder in his room after he left the athletes village," he said. "I walked by the door and noticed he'd checked out. I went in there and sat on the bed. As I was sitting there I noticed something poking out from under the bed. I listened for about 20 seconds. I turned it off when I heard him saying 'Well, the next time we talk I'll be the Olympic champion.

"The chill I got ..."

Browning said he dropped the tape recorder on the bed "like a hot brick" before he picked it up again, didn't play it anymore, and took it to give to Orser at a later date.

Browning told the story under the provision that the two scribes interviewing him would ask Orser permission to tell the story.

"I just started sweating," said Orser. "Yeah, go ahead and use it. I was recording my thoughts during the Olympics for a book. I really thought it was going to happen. I really thought I was going to win."

Orser is an interesting study here this year as he will be going into Vancouver 2010 in the same position as a coach as he was as a skater going against Boitano.

Coaching Yu-Na Kim of Korea against Mao Asada of China is being hyped here as the same sort of story.

"Maybe one of them should change their first names so they are the same like the two Brians," said Orser, who will be inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame here Saturday before the women's long program.

Orser is having no personal debate about being world champion going into the Olympics either for his skater or for Canada's Chan despite what happened to him in Calgary.

"You take it any time you can get it," he said.

"I wanted to win the world championship that year in Cincinnati.

"I wanted to go into the Olympics as the world champion. I carried the flag for Canada at the opening ceremonies. That was an incredible honour and not a jinx."

OLYMPIC MOMENT

Manley, on the other hand says she doesn't think she would have had her Olympic moment if she'd gone in as a favourite instead of a skater who'd been fourth at Worlds.

"I don't think I'd change anything. I mean, if you asked me before Calgary if I'd rather go to the Olympics as world champion, I'd have said yes. But looking back, I don't know if I'd be able to handle that.

"I didn't have the pressure. If I'd gone in as the world champion I probably wouldn't have been able to fly to Calgary to be in the opening ceremonies and then go home to Ottawa to practice and then come back the day before the compulsory figures.

"Looking back, I don't think I'd have been able to do the same thing I did in Calgary," said Manley.


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