Courtnall, a native of Duncan, B. C., will be paired with Kim Navarro, Belak’s former skating partner. Belak, a former NHL tough guy, was set to be a Battle of the Blades competitor when he was found dead in his Toronto hotel room Aug. 31.
Courtnall, who was eliminated early from the 2010 competition, will skate for Belak’s chosen charity, Tourette’s Syndrome Neurodevelopmental Clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital. Each pair is skating for a $100,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
Navarro is a U.S. World Team member and two-time U.S. ice dance bronze medalist.
Battle of the Blades began its third season Sunday on CBC-TV with a show featuring a tribute to Belak and a glimpse of each of the eight competing hockey stars as they attempt to master figure skating.
For the first time, a female hockey player is paired with a male figure skater in the competition. Tessa Bonhomme, part of Canada’s gold medal-winning women’s hockey team at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, will skate with David Pelletier, a three-time Canadian pairs champion and an Olympic gold medallist.
The other pairs:
- Russian-born figure skater Violetta Afanasieva and ex-Calgary Flame Cale Hulse.
- U.S. ice dance champion Tanith Belbin and former Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers player Boyd Devereaux.
- Russian-born Olympic gold medalist Elena Berezhnaya and Curtis Leschyshyn, a Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche.
- Canadian ice dance champion Marie-France Dubreuil and Bryan Berard, who won the Calder Trophy and the Bill Masterdon Memorial Trophy during his time with the NHL.
- U.S. World and Olympic team member Marcy Hinzmann-Harris and former NHL defenceman and Calgary Flames captain Todd Simpson.
- 2008 Canadian pairs champion Anabelle Langlois and Brad May, a former Toronto Maple Leaf and Vancouver Canuck who won the Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Anaheim Ducks.
Battle of the Blades live competition begins Sunday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. (8.30 p.m. NT) on CBC-TV. There will be no eliminations in the first week, but each performance counts toward scores in the second week of the competition.