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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

BRIAN ORSER

Inducted in 1991

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 18, 1961
Place of Birth: Belleville, Ontario
Sport: Figure skating
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1979

National Junior Men's Champion

1981-1987

National Men's Champion

1984

Sarajevo Olympic Games - Silver medal

1984-1986, 1988

World Championships - Silver medal

1987

World Championships - Gold medal

1988

Calgary Olympic Games - Silver medal

1997

Inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame

Honoured Member BRIAN ORSER
Inspire

Story

When a young figure skating coach named Doug Leigh watched nine-year-old Brian Orser skate, he recognized the qualities of a champion. Raised in Penetanguishine, Ontario, Orser first skated at six and by 16, the teen was pursuing his dream for Olympic gold full time. Following initial victories at the Ontario Games in 1974 and the national Junior Men's Championships in 1979, Orser won his first of seven consecutive national men's titles in 1981. He soon earned the title of "Mr. Triple Axel" for his ability to consistently land this challenging jump in competition. Until the early 1980s, Orser had been regarded primarily as a superb technician. However, hard work, determination, and persistence, mixed with his musical sense, creativity, and sheer physical dexterity combined to give Orser "the whole package." By 1984, he was considered the premier showman among amateur skaters. Sparkling short and long programmes at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics were outweighed by a 7th place in the compulsories and resulted in a silver medal placing behind American Scott Hamilton, the highest placing ever for a Canadian male in Olympic figure skating competition. Orser placed second at the 1984, 1985, and 1986 World Championships, building his determination to win it all in 1987. At the competition in Cincinnati, Ohio, Orser skated a brilliant, flawless long program composed of seven triple jumps, including two triple axels. Finally, his 15-year obsession had resulted in triumph, and Orser became the first Canadian male in 24 years to be crowned world champion. Orser was the Canadian Olympic team's flag bearer for the 1988 Calgary Games as well as a favourite for the gold medal, but stiff competition and the increased hype over the "Battle of the Brians" added to the pressure. An unclean landing of a triple jump, and then a reduced triple to a double late in his program led to an overall win, by one tenth of a percentage point, by American Brian Boitano. These one-two placings were repeated at the 1988 World Championships, and Orser announced his decision to retire from the amateur ranks later that year. "Retirement" for Canada's most successful male figure skater, however, meant three professional ice shows, a television special, an Emmy winning role in Carmen on Ice, and a published biography. For his competitive success, Orser was named to the Order of Canada in 1986 and made an Officer of the Order in 1988. He also received an honoured place in the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1997.


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