Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #26. Because Brian Orser Finally Won Gold
Brian Orser didn’t win gold when he was a skater—he’s a two-time Olympic silver medallist—but as a coach, he’s unstoppable. Orser has transformed North Toronto’s sleepy Cricket Skating and Curling Club into a breeding ground for the world’s best figure skaters. At the Vancouver Games, he proved his coaching prowess when his student, South Korea’s Yuna Kim, skated what many consider the greatest Olympic performance of all time. Her grace and power are hallmark traits of Orser’s skaters. Wannabe champions from all over the world send him YouTube clips, hoping to be one of the 10 students he takes on at a time. Orser reviews the films looking for that X factor, skaters who are naturals on their blades. He puts them through a rigorous training regimen: for hours, they’ll do nothing but crossovers, and it might be months before he lets them do a Lutz. Orser’s team of assistants includes a skating fundamentals coach, a spinning specialist and choreographers (Orser was a choreographer for a brief time until a season spent putting four routines to the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean made him re-evaluate). His pupils have included 2014 Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu and World bronze medallist Javier Fernández, as well as athletes from South Africa, Kazakhstan and the United States—turning the uptown club into a United Nations of Salchows, swizzles and spins.