Dancing on ice: ‘Battle of the Blades’ is back

“Battle of the Blades” is back and that makes me happy. So why was I crying?

Of course, the better question some of you readers no doubt have is “what is ‘Battle of the Blades’?” It’s a program, returning for its fourth season on CBC after taking last year off, which is an on-ice variation of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Except it’s better because it involves ice athletes.

The tears were prompted by BOTB’s feature pieces on its participants, namely former NHL hockey players paired with female ice skating stars to form duos who compete in pairs routines.

The features told the story behind each hockey player’s choice of charity for which they are competing in BOTB. The charity aspect is just one of the things that make this program a great reality show.

The figure skaters, too, choose charities which will benefit from their participation in the program and their background stories are touching as well.

The first season of BOTB in 2009 featured Bob Probert, the former Detroit Red Wings tough guy, which drew a lot of skeptical people into watching the show. Probie only made it to the first elimination, but his willingness to give figure skating a shot intrigued many.

Including me.

This season, BOTB had a special Sept. 22 showcasing highlights from its first three campaigns. The common theme was how humbling it was for professional hockey players to use figure skates, many for the first time ever.

Let’s just say toe picks can be a cruel leveler.

But for pride and for charity, the hockey players learned to maneuver on figure skates, despite bruises and bumps and crashes. And with hard work on the part of the figure skaters, the teams learned routines set to music and became competitive in a quick hurry.

The third season of BOTB, in 2011, featured a twist. One couple was a female hockey player and a male figure skater, namely Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier, and they took first place.

Like “Dancing with the Stars,” this competition features both a judging panel and votes from the public. That’s the only drawback for us in the USA: Only Canadians are eligible to vote in this competition.

However, that should not keep U.S. residents who enjoy figure skating and/or hockey away from watching. You might not get a say, but you certainly should be entertained.

My favorite couple does not always win the trophy at the end of the season. Season one, the winners were Craig Simpson and Jamie Sale, but my favorite couple was Claude Lemieux and Shae-Lynn Bourne.

As a Red Wings fan, never in my wildest dreams did I think Claude Lemieux would be my favorite anything, but he was awesome in BOTB. He even SANG Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for one the routines skated by him and Shae-Lynn.

Season two was captured by my favorites that year, Val Bure and Ekaterina Goredeeva. Season three’s champs, the aforementioned Bonhomme and Pelletier were wonderful but my favorite couple was the runners-up, Bryan Berard and Marie-France Dubreuil.

Season four’s competition started this past Sunday, so there is plenty of time to get hooked on the show, the creation of Sandra Bezic, a former skater, coach and choreographer. My favorite couple, so far, is former Red Wing Mathieu Dandenault and Dubreuil but each of the eight pairings is outstanding.

Sunday nights at 8 is when BOTB is on CBC. Check it out to be both entertained and inspired.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is rprusi@miningjournal.net