Kurt Browning, figure skaters worldwide unite digitally to help healthcare workers

Despite having no ice on which to perform, more than 40 figure skaters from nine countries will take part in a fundraiser Friday to help health care workers on the front lines battling the new coronavirus.

Such Olympic and world champions as Kurt Browning, Scott Hamilton, Michelle Kwan, Brian Boitano, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Evgeni Plushenko have compiled videos as part of the one-hour event called Blades for the Brave. It will be streamed on Bladesforthebrave.org as well as Americares’ Facebook and Twitter feeds and its YouTube channel.

Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic gold medallist , four-time world champion and skating icon, eagerly joined when approached by Tara Modlin-Maurizi of Fireworks Sports Marketing, who developed the event.

“If skating is doing something to be a part of making the world a better place, safer place, and getting money and supplies for those who desperately need it, absolutely I will participate in any way,” he said. “The health care community is being blasted like we have never seen before and was not prepared for this.”

WATCH | Browning staying in shape with garage workouts:

The four-time world champion figure skater joined CBC Morning Live host Heather Hiscox to discuss how he’s staying fit while social distancing. 8:15

Americares is delivering protective gear and other critically needed supplies for health care workers in COVID-19 hot spots worldwide. In the United States, Americares has delivered masks, gloves and disinfecting supplies to heath facilities in 25 states. The organization also is training health workers in infection prevention and control, mental health and psycho-social support, and disaster preparedness.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of the biggest names in figure skating as we fight to protect front-line health workers from COVID-19,” said Americares President and CEO Christine Squires. “Every donation to the Americares Coronavirus Response Fund means we can provide more protective gear and training to keep health workers safe and supported during this unprecedented time.”

Rollerblading, dancing on display

Footage for the event will include Hamilton rollerblading in video shot by his usual partner on such ventures, his son, Maxx, who plays hockey; Browning displaying the dancing feet that made him a world champion, but on the street with no skates; Paul Wylie and family doing a “Star Wars” routine in their driveway; and Michal Brezina working out, with his newborn baby at his side.

Several previous on-ice performances will be featured, including by Viktor Petrenko, Jeremy Abbott, Yuka Sato and Rohene Ward.

“I am not a huge social media guy with all the savvy,” Hamilton noted. “My son manned the camera. I just went out in the back by the pool and grill and then through the kitchen and my desk. Just a goofy thing, but it’s something that honours the intent of the program.

“I have been home and not really left the house much since I got back from a trip to Israel. We’re practicing social distancing — the best thing we can do is be part of the solution and that is to stay home. This is devastating, so doing things like Blades for the Brave, they are meant to be doing whatever we can to help those who are trying to help us.”

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