Volume 96, Issue 88
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

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Skating about sport, not sex

Re: "Gay figure-skaters?" Mar. 12

To the Editor:

In his letter, Dan Petrie asked if Alma Moir, coach of Western's varsity figure skating team, "propose that we rid the sport of such openly gay skaters as Emanuel Sandhu and Brian Orser" to eliminate the stereotype that all male figure skaters are gay. He also objected to the statement that Kurt Browning's image helped "rid the sport of the gay male stereotype."

I have discussed this letter with Alma (I am a member of her figure skating team) and her comments in the original article were paraphrased. She was commenting on how Kurt Browning (four-time World Champion) changed the image of figure skating and made no mention of ridding the sport of the "gay male stereotype."

Ejecting the likes of Brian Orser (1987 World Champion, 1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist) and Emanuel Sandhu (two-time Canadian Champion), would remove some of the best skaters in the world from the sport, which is not what Alma had in mind.

Kurt Browning furthered figure skating technically by landing the first quadruple jump in competition (1988 World Championships), and artistically, by introducing a more contemporary look to men's figure-skating programs. Kurt made figure skating cool and generated attention from the media and the non-skating public. Perhaps, most importantly, his image created more interest in figure skating as an athletic pursuit for boys across the country.

The addition of quadruple jumps to the skaters' arsenals has given figure skating the respect it deserves as a SPORT – for men, regardless of their sexual orientation, as well as women.

Kurt's long list of accomplishments successfully shifted the media spotlight away from the sexual orientation of male figure skating and put the attention back where it should have been all along – on the quality of skating that these fine athletes can achieve.

Nancy Ford
Western figure skating
Medical Biophysics, PhD III

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2002 THE GAZETTE