After nine weeks of intense performances (and don't forget the training throughout the week) season three of CBC's Battle of the Blades came to a close tonight with Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier crowned the winners. It was an emotional closing after an emotional season.
Tessa is the first ever female hockey player to compete on Battle. Even in week one, head judge Sandra Bezic said: "I expected you to be good, but I did not expect that level of performance. What this is about is the courage to put yourself in a vulnerable place and that is inspirational."
We caught up with Tessa and David right after the show, and here's what they had to say:
How are you feeling?
TB: Excited, happy, surprised! Completely blown away and happy for our charities. We put so many hours in every day and we're just happy they're reaping the benefits. We couldn't be more excited and proud of our fans and all of our supporters.
You say you're surprised...
TB: Yeah, look at the two couples out there. They're all fantastic skaters and great competitors and they were skating for some great charities. They had some very loyal and supportive fans and it could have gone any way. I wouldn't have been surprised if Marie-France had taken it or if Tanith had taken it. It was just nice that our charities won and we get the trophy!
And you did the Run for the Cure (Tessa's chosen charity) this year?
TB: Yeah, I took part! As did Marcy and Todd, so it was nice to just be a part of that and I plan on attending every year.
Tessa, you mentioned that you'll miss Jeremy Roenick and his flirting... tell us more!
TB: Ah, it's just a joke! You know the lines he throws out there during the judging, good for a laugh! It's always good fun, nothing serious and I appreciate his good humour. He's always very positive.
What's been the best part of the show for you? Apart from winning...
TB: Making 15 new fantastic friends, and then some. Everybody that works on set here's been amazing, Dave's been great and all the choreographers have been fantastic. The producers as well. Memories that'll last a lifetime.
In your speech David you mentioned your mother and how she made you figure skate, can you tell us more?
DP: My mum loved figure skating and never really had the chance to do it when she was a kid. She had three boys, and that didn't stop her. In my little town down in the Gaspé area, if you were a boy you played hockey and if you were a girl you figure skated. But, if you were a Pelletier, you did figure skating and hockey. It wasn't my choice, but I learned to grow in the sport and to love the sport and respect it. It's something that happened to me that I don't regret. I got to meet fantastic people and had a great life. My mum did love figure skating, and I didn't, but as I said I learned to love it and respect it.
We also spoke with one of the hosts of Battle, Kurt Browning about what's been a fantastic season.
Are Tessa and David deserved winners?
KB: Tessa's been a curiosity from the start. She's been the person that I thought had the hardest job. She improved so much, and I saw that last night. What was it, four or five weeks ago she did (last night's) routine originally? I didn't really realise how much she'd improved until you could compare it to the one before. I'm very proud of them, I always knew she was going to be a front runner after a couple of weeks, and I also knew that people were going to vote for her because of her story and being such a wonderful spokesperson. Incredibly funny, incredibly charming, gorgeous! What's not to vote for?
What was your high point of the season?
KB: Todd Simpson skating down the ice in - I think - week two, just closing his eyes, opening his arms and just going 'oh, yeah!' I thought, 'that's what this show's about. It's about a risk.' The coolest guys in Canada are hockey players. What would be the hardest thing for a hockey player to do? Figure skate! Yeah! That's crazy! And they do it. David Pelletier, who really gave a nice speech at the end, said they really do it with 100% of their heart. They put their lives on hold, their families on hold and their jobs to come and do this. And they did it with total respect for our sport, and that's an amazing gift.
And it's obvious how much they love it as well.
KB: Yeah, if you look at it from another point of view - what an incredible adventure. To carry a girl down the ice with people cheering, with the spotlights on... it's also 'am I really doing this? Did I really just throw a girl 13 feet across the ice?' It's an experience that will be up there with the most memorable they're ever going to have.
It's a night for celebration, I'm always happy that no one gets hurt and we get through this thing. The whole thing was awesome, and the fact the whole cast did Wade Belak really proud... I don't know anybody on the ice that day when I met Wade who wanted to be there more than he did. I'm really proud of the cast to push forward and push through. I think the show walked that fine line of remembering him and moving forward. I'm very proud of the show for that.