Born to Skate:
It all began on December 18, 1961 when Brian Orser was born to parents JoAnne and Butch in Belleville Ontario. First taken to the rink with his sisters, he took to it as though born to skate. While like most young boys he played hockey, at six he performed in his first skating carnival with the Midland Skating Club and his fate was sealed. Two years later he skated his first solo and there met his idol, world gold medalist Donald Jackson. In 1970, his mother JoAnne rented some ice time in order for Brian to skate for a new area coach who was looking for young skaters. Although only nineteen himself, Doug Leigh saw the enthusiasm and potential in young Brian and thus was born a coaching relationship that would last throughout Brian's amateur career.
Mr. Triple Axel:
In February 1977, Brian became the novice skating Champions of Canada in Calgary. With that win the goals became bigger and Brian began working to perfect the triple axel. In 1979 at the Junior Canadian Championships, he became the first Junior to land the triple axel in competition. Not only was he the first Junior to land it, he was only the second person to land one in competition. Thus was born the nickname "Mr. Triple Axel" which Brian kept with him through the years and later added to it, by being the first man to land two triple axels in one program as well as the first to do it in combination.
Bringing Out His Personality:
In 1980 Brian competed in his first Senior Championship and came in fourth, but the next year he jumped right to the top of the podium and won his first National title. Moving on to the World Championships he dazzled the judges and placed sixth - an incredible placing for his first trip! Following that season, Brian met choreographer Uschi Kezler at one of her seminars and it was a match made in heaven. Over the next few seasons Kezler worked to bring Brian's personality out on the ice and help make him more creative within his programs. 1983 brought Brian his third National title and his first World Medal - a bronze and the stage was set for the 1984 Olympic games in Sarajevo. He started with a seventh place finish in figures and then proceeded to skate the short and long programs of his life to land him right behind Scott Hamilton on the podium. His next appearance at Worlds landed him his first Freestyle Championship, but a fall in the short program kept him in second behind Hamilton.
Climbing to the Top:
Still riding the high of an Olympic and World silver medal, Brian stormed into the 1985 Canadian Championships and won his 5th National title with a string of perfect sixes - the highest marks given in the history of the Championships. But disaster struck before Worlds when Brian came down with pneumonia - however a strong will kept him on the ice for another silver medal. In April of 1986, Brian achieved one of his greatest honors - being inducted as a member of the Order of Canada. The honor pays tribute not only to Orser's skill as an athlete, but also for his contribution as an unofficial ambassador of Canada. 1987 was the season of Brian's dreams. A win over Brian Boitano at Skate Canada preceded the win of his seventh National title. Heading into Worlds Brian was next to unstoppable, having won every competition he entered that season. Worlds saw Brian have his best ever result in figures - including a win on the loop, the best ever results for a Canadian in figures. Not one to stop there, Brian won both the short and long programs and finally stepped to the top of the podium. Brian Orser truly was the best in the world!
Battle of the Brians:
Leading into the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games, Brian won his eight National title, a record for the Canadian Championships. Going into the games, Brian was the only world champion Canada had and he was chosen to carry the flag in the opening ceremonies. The Calgary games were dubbed by the media 'The Battle of the Brians' as Brian's biggest competitor was Brian Boitano of the United States. Despite the hopes and pressures of an entire country, Brian performed two excellent programs and it came down to the difference of one judge. Though Brian had the higher artistic marks (which is what beaks a tie today) 1988 was the last year that the technical mark broke the tie and the gold went to Brian Boitano. Following the Olympics Brian went to Worlds and gave what can be considered one of the best performances of his life. But being too far behind in figures meant that it was another silver medal.
Enter the Professional:
As a professional Brian was just as busy, if not busier than as an amateur, starting with his first television special Skating Free which was filmed on the frozen surface of Lake Louise. 1990 was another big year, complete with his award winning special Night Moves and then his Emmy-winning role in Sandra Bezic's Carmen on Ice. Besides keeping busy with specials and tours (he toured with both the US and Canadian versions of Stars on Ice), Brian was also competing in a variety of professional competitions.
Building to a Win
The past several seasons have turned out to be some of the best Brian's had as a pro. In 1998 he trained hard and brought back his triple lutz, and it along with a strong artistic program helped him beat the reining Olympic gold medalist, Ilia Kulik, at the Masters of Figure Skating. Not one to stop, in 1999 Brian worked to get his triple axel back - it was a jump he hadn't landed in competition since the 1988 Worlds. At attempt was made at the Canadian Open, but while he landed one in practice, not so much luck with it in the short program. Refusing to give up Brian focused on trying it at the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games, and land it he did. For the first triple axel in 12 years, it was a beauty and helped him win a silver medal! As Brian approached his 40th birthday in 2001, he once again defied the odds, by winning the Canadian Open in Ottawa with a stunning artistic program that focussed on edges and the progression of skating as a sport.
Skater and Choreographer
As Brian continues to turn in breathtaking performances as a professional, he's expanded hsi involvement in the sport by taking on the role of choreographer. He started doing group numbers for the occassional show or solo skater looking for someone different. Brian also choreographed several Celebration on Ice tours as well as shows like Holiday Festival on Ice and Belgium Stars on Ice. As if that weren't enough he also skated in many of those same shows!
Taking the Next Step In 2005 Brian was named skating director of the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club along with long-time friend Tracy Wilson. There he coaches everything from learn to skate kids to senior level competitors. In 2006 Brian upped the ante and started as a full-time coach to South Korea's Yu-Na Kim on her first year as a senior level skater. March 2007 saw him off to Tokyo for his first Worlds behind the boards; and what a Worlds it was with Kim taking the bronze medal. Not too bad for a first-time coach! Brian has said that standing behind the boards with no control over what's going on is almost more nerve wracking that being out there skating himself. The year also marked another landmark for Brian - his farewell to touring. In April of 2007 Brian toured for the last time with the tour he helped bring to Canada from the U.S. - Stars on Ice. The tour was Brian's final tour, though not a full-out retirement - he'll still perform in the occassional show, but the life on the road of endless suitcases, buses and planes is now behind him. Now his main focus will be on sharing his knowledge with the next generations of skaters.
Full Time Coach After Brian's farewell tour, Brian devoted himself full-time to coaching. Brian continued to coach Yu-Na Kim through her Olympic gold medal win at the 2010 Olympics. With the Games held in Vancouver, BC that year, it was a great achievement for Brian to coach Yu-Na to the gold in his home country. In recent years Brian has continued to coach a variety of skaters from international medalists to up-and-coming youngsters.