March Madness isn’t the only big championship on this weekend (I am en route to New Orleans for Piero’s court time as “Virtual Madness” on CBS coverage) as the World Figure Skating Championships have just started. Failures on the ice can be quite the dramatic affair. An interview with one of the top skaters ever, Kurt Browning, provided an example of the power of failure…

  • ·Kurt Browning, the four-time world and Canadian champion, says Patrick Chan may be the best figure skater of all time. In January, Chan clinched his fifth national title in Moncton, earning the highest marks ever in the modern scoring era. Now 21, the Toronto native exudes a quiet confidence—and who wouldn’t? Since November 2010, he’s won every competition he’s entered, including last year’s World Championships. But getting here, Chan says, meant first losing big in Vancouver.
  • Q: You worked 13 years toward the Olympics, missed sleepovers, school, and poured more than 10,000 hours into practice. Then, within seconds of the start of the short program in Vancouver, your dream of Olympic gold unravelled. What happened next?
  • A: I was furious. I wasn’t angry at anyone in particular. I was frustrated that something I’d trained and done so many times, I couldn’t do right on the day it counted most. I didn’t yell, or swear, or kick. I was just pacing, pacing, trying to figure out, ‘What did I do wrong? What could make it right?’
  • Q: Some say we should embrace the valuable insight failure brings. Two years after Vancouver, you are a much better skater, arguably the best the world has ever seen. What did failing to reach the Olympic podium teach you?
  • A: I got so much more out of the bad results than had I won an Olympic medal. After the Olympics, I thought: ‘Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why am I skating?’ I had the wrong intentions, the wrong mentality. I wasn’t really skating for myself; I was skating for other people. The biggest thing it did was force me to find that passion again. I didn’t find it again until last season, when I started doing a lot more off-ice dance—dancing to music I like, challenging my balance, my strength. Through that, I realized why I like doing what I do. I love drawing the audience in, touching them. There’s a hush, or silence I just love.”
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