December 18, 1961– Brian Orser:
“I’m not convinced there is any consecutive 5 minutes in sport as lonely as a competitive figure skating program.”
The Husband & I are fans of figuring skating on TV, & today’s birthday gentleman was always a favorite stylish, athletic & artistic champion, combining unmatched artistry on ice with incredible physical prowess.
Brian Orser, former world figure skating champion, 8 times Canadian National Champion & twice Canadian Olympic silver medalist, was revealed as being a gay guy when a palimony suit was filed by his ex-boyfriend. In an affidavit, Orser had argued to keep the suit’s documents sealed. Orser:
“Other skaters, both Canadian & American, guard their gayness closely because of the likely impact of public disclosure on their careers.”
In 1979, Orser became the first man to land the daunting triple axel correctly (3 rotations in the air), which helped him win the Canadian Junior National Championship.
For the next 4 years, he was the only competitor to land the jump consistently & it became his signature move. In 1984, while on his way to winning an Olympic Medal, Orser became the first skater to land a triple axel in an Olympic competition.
In 1987 he won the World Men’s title, giving him the edge up for what many believe to have been the finest night of figure skating ever: the Battle Of The Brians at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Orser had beaten his rival, American skater Brian Boitano (who was also sort of pushed out of the closet) in 7 out of 10 competitions. But, in what has been noted as “the best night of skating ever”, Boitano barely edged out Orser to win the Gold Medal. Orser lost by .01 points.
In 1998 Orser trained hard & brought back his fabled Triple Lutz, & along with his strong artistic program he was able to beat the reigning Olympic Gold Medalist, Russian hottie Ilia Kulik, at the Masters Of Figure Skating.
Always super competitive, in 1999 Orser worked to get his Triple Axel back. It was a move he hadn’t landed in competition since the 1988 World Championships. An attempt was made earlier in the year at the Canadian Open, but while he landed one in practice, he missed it competing in the short program. Never one to give up, Orser focused on trying the move again at the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games, & this time he landed it perfectly. It was his first successful Triple Axel in competition in 12 years, & it was a thing of beauty. Orser won the Silver Medal at the first Goodwill Games of the 21st century.
In 2001, at 40 years old, ancient for an ice skater, Orser defied all odds by winning the Canadian Open in Ottawa with a stunning artistic program that focused on the progression of skating as a sport & as an art.
Orser continued to turn in terrific athletic & aesthetically adventurous performances as a professional. He expanded his involvement in the sport by becoming one of the best skating choreographers. He started designing the group numbers for the ice shows & shaping the routines of younger solo skaters looking for something new & exciting. Orser choreographed several Celebration On Ice tours, plus the popular Holiday Festival On Ice, Belgium Stars On Ice, & Steve Is Nice On The Ice shows. As if that weren’t enough he was often a featured soloist in many of these specialized frozen spectaculars.
In 2005, Orser became the skating director of the Toronto Skating & Curling Club. He coaches everyone who dares to put on those skates, from kids to geezers.
In 2006, Brian took on the job of full-time coach to South Korea‘s Yu-Na Kim, The next year Kim won the Bronze in the World Championships held in Tokyo. Orser claims that has said that standing behind the boards as coach is much more difficult than competing himself.
Orser now works full time as a coach. His star pupil, Yu-Na Kim, took the Gold Medal win at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He continues to help a variety of skaters of all ages towards wins in international competitions, including working with fellow Canadian cutie Elvis Stojko, Canada’s 3 times World Champion, 7 time Canadian Champ & twice Olympic Silver Medalist, & Orser helped secure Olympic Gold for young Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu at last year’s Winter Olympic Games (2014) in Sochi. He also coached hunky Javier Fernández of Spain to number one at this year’s 2015 World Championships.
Just 4 days after winning his Olympic Silver Medal in 1998, Orser was hit with that palimony suit by former boyfriend Craig Leask, a Toronto banker. This was before Marriage Equality had come to Canada & it was a nasty & expensive breakup. Leask had asked for $5000 a month claiming that Orser promised to support him in a relationship that would be “a lasting, monogamous & balanced partnership.” Yikes! This is the first time any major figure skater had been outed with irrefutable proof, instead of a rumor, because who ever heard of a gay figure skater?
Orser did some partying while working as a professional skater. But now he has a a longtime boyfriend, Rajesh Tiwari, who is Director of The Brian Orser Foundation which raises funds for HIV & Women’s Health issues. He is one of the most politically sensitive & savvy skaters. Orser has been awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Canada, another trophy for his awards case.
He has thickened a bit, yet I find the idea of Bears On Ice to be agreeable. For me, Orser has always looked better in silver. Who needs gold?