2023 Stars On Ice Canada: an International Cast Gather for Kurt Browning’s Last Tour

For over three decades, Stars On Ice has been a touring figure skating show that draws a cast of elite skaters, including Olympic and World champions. The show has become a beloved tradition among skating fans, known for its breathtaking displays of athleticism, grace, and artistry. 

This year, the Stars On Ice Canada tour marked the final time legendary figure skater Kurt Browning would take to the ice with the tour, making it an emotional experience for fans. Joining Browning on the tour were other skating greats, including Elvis Stojko, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion, while fans were thrilled to see the return of Patrick Chan after a break from skating shows. Keegan Messing, another beloved Canadian skater who recently retired from competition, also continues his skating with SOI, showcasing his incredible talent and love for the sport. Additionally, this year’s Canadian tour welcomed a diverse range of skaters from around the world, including Madison Chock & Evan Bates, Loena Hendrickx, Jason Brown, and Satoko Miyahara, who returned for a second year, adding to the excitement and variety of the performances. With an array of breathtaking performances, the Stars On Ice show 2023 proved to be an unforgettable experience for all who attended.

I’m glad to have had the opportunity to attend the show in Ottawa on April 30th and would like to share some highlights from it. 

Kurt Browning’s first program “Please Forgive Me” was a fan favorite. He greeted the audience on all four sides by going on to the ice level seats without stoping his footwork. Of course, he couldn’t leave out his signature backflip and intricate steps. His duo program with Elvis Stojko was another highlight of the night. They had mics on and playfully chatted with each other, and did moves from their classic programs. It felt more like a fun practice session with old friends. Kurt also performed his own favorite program, “Who Are You,” with an obvious joy that was contagious to the audience. It was no surprise that he received a continued standing ovation after every single performance. We will miss this beloved figure skating icon.

Elvis also had two solo programs during the show. His second program “Jump” was particularly thrilling, as it stirred up the atmosphere and felt more like a concert. The music and choreography were so infectious that it made the audience want to jump along with him (not the figure skating jump though). It was a great reminder of the power of music and how it can bring people together.

As a younger generation skating fan myself who started getting into the sport in the 2010s, Patrick holds a special place in my heart. It was wonderful to see him back on the ice, showcasing two beautiful programs. His smooth glides and steps were something that fans had been missing. During the start of his second program, “I Hear a Symphony,” clips of Patrick with his son were played on the screen, from his son’s birth in 2021 up until recently. When the clip played of Patrick holding his son’s hand and walking on the beach, he appeared on the ice and began the program with soft music, executing toe steps and turns that reminded the audience of how children learn to walk. It was truly touching.

Piper & Paul’s performance was as beautiful and versatile as always. They skated to a John Denver medley, starting with “Annie’s Song”. The pure voice of John combined with their smooth skating and soft lighting created a heart-touching atmosphere. For the second half of the program, the music changed to a cowboy theme with “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”, which was more upbeat and fun. They skated with dance holds nearly all the time, showcasing the charm of ice dance.

Madison Chock & Evan Bates also delivered stunning performances. With their first program “nightcall”, the couple started the graceful number that is just as flowy as her beautiful skirt. As the program progressed, it became more upbeat and emotional, showcasing the pair’s versatility and artistry on the ice.

As always, the two group numbers before and after the intermission were what I looked forward to the most. 

This year, the first half of the show ended with a tribute to Kurt. It started with a short video showcasing his years with SOI, which felt like seeing a glimpse of figure skating history. In the tribute program, skaters paid homage to Kurt, and he hugged each one of them. It was really touching, and you could feel a sense of heritage being passed on.

The second half of the show began with “Bond,” where everyone dressed up as characters from the iconic movie series. The cast also recorded clips where they each had their characters, and the clips were played with the skaters’ performance at the beginning of the program. A bar was set up, and while each one of them skated out to show some tricks, others were standing around it, creating a fun atmosphere. Like the 007 series, this program was great too and is another one of my favorites. I do feel though, that there could have been more interaction with the props and a more prominent use of the bar.

The show ended with a finale that brought all the skaters together, leaving the audience with a sense of joy and appreciation for the art of figure skating. And saying goodbye to Kurt for one more (last) time.

Overall, the Stars on Ice show was an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. With the chance to witness world-class figure skating performances up close, it’s an opportunity that any fan of the sport should take advantage of. And with this being Kurt Browning’s final tour, it’s a particularly poignant moment for fans of the legendary skater. So don’t hesitate to grab your tickets for one of the remaining shows and say farewell to one of the greatest figure skaters of all time.

Remaining shows of this year’s SOI Canada Tour:

May 3 Moncton, NB
May 5 Toronto, ON
May 6 Hamilton, ON
May 7 Kitchener, ON
May 10 Winnipeg, MB
May 11 Saskatoon, SK
May 13 Edmonton, AB
May 14 Calgary, AB
May 16 Victoria, BC
May 18 Vancouver, BC

Writer/Photographer: Lingyin Wang

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