With unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, the fifth estate followed five figure skaters, each with a dream of making the Canadian team before the 2006 Olympic Winter Games: Jeff Buttle, Emanuel Sandhu, Christopher Mabee, Joannie Rochette and Lesley Hawker.
For eight months, the fifth estate was with the skaters in the dressing room, at home and on the ice, capturing an intimate view of the physical and psychological challenges athletes face to make the Canadian team. ‘On the Edge of Glory’ aired days before the start of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, where three of the five skaters featured in the show competed for a place on the podium.
At the Skate Canada international competition in St John’s, Newfoundland, Sandhu won the gold, with Buttle falling into second place. Rochette came in third, while Hawker was in 10th place. Next, the skaters turned their focus to the national championships in Ottawa, where the Canadian Olympic team would be selected.
There, Buttle won gold, and Sandhu had to settle for silver. Chris Mabee did not get the third spot on the men’s Olympic team, but he said his long program skate was one of the best in his career up to that point. Rochette won the women’s competition, and Hawker took home the bronze medal, but gave up the second spot on the Olympic team to Mira Leung of Vancouver, BC. Rochette, Buttle and Sandhu all went on to compete in the 2006 Olympics.
In Torino, Buttle won a bronze medal for Canada. He went on to win the world championships in 2008, and then retired after that season. In 2012, he was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Since he stopped competing, he has toured with ‘Stars on Ice’ and has done some work as a skating choreographer.
Rochette came 5th in Torino - but it was not the end of her Olympic competition. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Rochette gave one of the most courageous and emotional performances of the games. Two days before her short program event, her mother died of a heart attack after arriving in Vancouver to watch her compete. Rochette chose to remain in the event, and skated skillfully through her program, before giving in to tears. After her free skate, she held her position to win an Olympic bronze medal. In the closing ceremonies, Rochette was chosen as Canada’s flag-bearer. Now she stars in skating shows, like ‘Stars on Ice’ and also works with World Vision and Right to Play. In the 2014 Sochi games, she is working with CBC’s French-language service, Radio-Canada.
Sandhu finished a disappointing 13th at the 2006 Olympics, and left competitive skating in 2007. For a while, he competed on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance Canada". But in the 2011-2012 skating season, he began to make a comeback. As a 32-year-old skater, he qualified to compete at the Canadian championships in 2013, where he finished 9th in the short program and 11th overall.
Mabee won silver at the Canadian national championships in 2007, placing ahead of Sandhu and earning a spot on the World team for the first time. He retired from competitive skating the following year.
After winning bronze at the national championships, Hawker was the first alternate for the 2006 World Championships and the Olympics. She also won the Canadian bronze medal in 2007, then decided to retire from competitive skating the following year.