Mon Oct 04 11:08am EDT
(Ed. Note: Yahoo! Sports Canada has extended coverage of CBC Sports' "Battle of the Blades" Season 2, including exclusive reactions from judge Jeremy Roenick. Each Monday, Puck Daddy will offer a companion piece with our whimsical take on the BOTB competition episodes. For those who watched it, and those in the U.S. that can't yet, here is Erin Nicks of The Universal Cynic, who is a terrific hockey blogger that we tricked into watching figure skating. She watches so you don't have to.)
Greetings, figure skating-hockey crossover honks, and welcome to CBC's second season of Battle of the Blades - a "program not endorsed by or affiliated with the National Hockey League or its teams"! Bank says Gary Bettman was just bitter when he found out no one could make a skating dress befitting of his petite curves. Admit it: You're tingling.
This year, eight pairs are skating for bragging rights, unlimited use of sequins and $100,000 to go to the charity of their choice. Our show begins with an opening "pose-off", which introduces the pairs: Violetta Afanasieva and former Boston Bruins pugilist P.J. Stock; Shae-Lynn Bourne and former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois(notes); Isabelle Brasseur and former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Todd Warriner; Ekaterina Gordeeva and former Calgary Flames winger Valeri Bure; Christine Hough-Sweeney and former Vancouver Canucks forward Russ Courtnall; Kyoko Ina and former St. Louis Blues tough guy Kelly Chase; Anabelle Langlois and ex-NHL brawler Georges Laraque(notes), and finally, Jamie Salé with former Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury(notes). Whew. Got all that?
Co-host Kurt Browning informs us that the show "is a competition...it's a ‘Where are they now?'...it's a love story..." His sidekick Ron MacLean throws him a perplexed look. Perhaps it will become clearer once judge Jeremy Roenick(notes) has flirted with all the female skaters, followed by commercials for a G-rated product, curiously named, "Happy Time" body lotion. More on that later.
But we aren't ready to begin performing just yet. First up, some rapid-fire takes from the pairs' "boot camp." One of the initial shots is of Laraque casually skating while bench-pressing his partner Anabelle over his head. Part of me immediately wonders why he never did that to Chris Neil(notes).
Valeri Bure comes with the first memorable quote of the night: "Canada and Russia, they are colliding...and no one likes Russians." Tell you what, Val: We'll like you a lot more if you just give in, and skate to the theme from Full House. Come on, you know you want to.
It's time to introduce the judges: Special guest adjudicator, Brett Hull, the über-sparkly former Olympian Sandra Bezic and, of course, J.R., who informs the men that he looks forward to them "(getting) loving to me on the camera." Oh my. Let's get this show on the road, shall we?
Shae-Lynn and Patrice: It's never easy to go first, but between the choice of Blur's "Song 2" and Brisebois' stiff hip-shaking, I'm already covering my eyes. I guess I can't hate too much - all the lifts featured Shae-Lynn giving metal horns. At one point, Ms. Bourne pulled off a triple pirouette, and Patrice was holding up his hand, waiting for her to finish. Dude looked like he got left hanging in the postseason handshake line. That said, the judges are kind, and Roenick declares Shae-Lynn to be "beautiful." Look out - this might be a recurring theme. Total score: 16.6.
Kyoko and Kelly: Kyoko learned quickly that Kelly Chase is a bad-ass - we're treated to an emotional preamble about Kelly's health problems, which included a three-centimetre brain lesion in 2008. After two years of treatment, Chase thankfully has made a full recovery. K-Squared are skating to Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" (in case you haven't caught on yet, it's ‘Rock Night'). They pull off a smooth skate highlighted by a huge one-handed lift, complete with fist-pump. What, no headbanging? Judge Sandra praises Kelly's "nuance and emotion." No need to drop the gloves tonight. Total score: 17.2.
Violetta and P.J.: None of these women are tall, but Violetta is tiny, and pairing her with P.J. should be interesting to watch. Psst...hey Peege, go ask Toller Cranston if you can borrow one of his unitards. It's like the skating equivalent of Tom Cruise's platform shoes. V and P.J. perform to The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now," and the chemistry is evident. Stock pulls off something called a "drape lift", which I'm immediately copywriting as the official description for J.R.'s hairstyle. Brett Hull declares that the program "oozes sexuality", but the pair shouldn't get too excited. Word is Hull said the same thing about the Caesar he had at the official Mott's Clamato-sponsored bar during the commercial break. Total score: 17.2
Christine and Russ: Christine (a.k.a. "Tuffy") and Russ are skating to "Hero" by Chad Kroeger in honour of Russ' dad, thereby invoking the rarely-used Nickelback proxy loophole allowing for zero complaint. The program seems simpler compared to their competitors, but Tuffy's artistry helps to make Russ look good. Roenick, meanwhile, is impressed with Courtnall's "toe pick skills" and proclaims that Christine is an "absolute beauty." See? Told ya. Total score: 16.8
Georges and Anabelle: These two were the talk of the show, after Kurt Browning revealed that there had been an accident in practice, and Anabelle's skate had slashed open Georges' head to the tune of twelve stitches.
The trick appears in the program, and they manage it this time without a hitch - Laraque swings Anabelle around his head like a blond, spangled, human-sized scarf, and the effect is remarkable. The pair skates to "The Eye of the Tiger", which somehow allows a point in the choreography for Georges to kiss his biceps. After they finish, Ron MacLean pipes up, "The music was sure fitting, because the start to all of this was rocky!" Where's a big freaking gong when you need one? Let's go to the judges, where J.R. says what we're all thinking: "(Georges), without a doubt, that's the biggest butt I've ever seen on figure skates!" Total score: 17.0
Isabelle and Todd: A solid music choice here with "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones. They attempted the first "throw-double", but unfortunately, Isabelle fell on the landing. Judge Sandra informs us that much of the skill relies on the man, and they have lots of time to work it out. Brett adds, "Todd, you look like a figure skater, and I don't mean that as an insult!" Hey, I thought we were all here to bond over our mutual appreciation of ice sports? Total score: 16.8
Ekaterina and Valeri: Katia and Val aren't strangers - they were schoolmates at the Central Army Sports Club in Moscow. Pavel Bure, Valeri's brother, was in the same class as Katia, but she and Val still saw each other around school. Skating to "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven, this Russian duo is coming with some serious speed, which isn't surprising considering who we're talking about. Roenick is in love - "You guys are the perfect couple...Katia, when you skated by, I blushed...you're so beautiful...am I flirting right now?" Brett Hull proclaims E and V to be "flawless", yet only awards them a 5.8. Whaa? Total score: 17.3
Theo and Jamie: Jamie says that Theo's here to "show you guys that (he) has it." Anyone want to guess what the "it" is? Apparently it's a gift bag from Sephora, because Fleury is sporting eyeliner and nail polish. Performing to "Let it Rock" by Kevin Rudolf (featuring Lil Wayne), the getup is unnatural, but the skating, surprisingly is not. It didn't have all the flash of the other programs (read: lifts), but Theo seems to feed off the crowd and definitely has some moxie. Roenick sums it up nicely: "Well, Adam Lambert, you were inspiring." Total score: 17.1
That's all for Week 1 - the results show goes tonight at 8 pm ET on CBC, where one pair's sparkle-covered dreams will come to an end. Meet me back here next week for more glitter, more drama, and hopefully the big reveal of J.R.'s Match.com profile. Metal horns up, Bladeheads!
Erin Nicks blogs on The Universal Cynic and will recap the competition programs on "Battle of the Blades" each Monday on Puck Daddy.