Battle of the Blades

Stumbles, speed and gender-bending lifts leave three pairs standing for finale

In Week 6 we revisited some of our pairs' favourite performances, witnessed a thrilling new lift and said goodbye to another beloved pair.
All remaining pairs preparing to find who is in the final skate off in Week 6 of Battle of the Blades (Insight Productions / CBC Battle of the Blades)

"It's Battle time," said Andrew Poje, as the penultimate episode of Battle of the Blades was set to begin. With only four teams remaining in the competition, Week 6 would see the final elimination before next week's finale where the winning team will be crowned.

This week began with a twist. Once the bottom two teams were identified, they immediately launched into the elimination skate. It was Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje's turn to skate first.

Spooner and Poje were typically energetic in both their numbers. Some of their highlights included footwork and lifts, and a final "gender bender" lift where Spooner lifted and carried an upside-down Poje. For Spooner, "this journey has been about doing things you never imagined you would have." It was an energetic and fun performance, and according to Head Judge Kurt Browning, "that was a Game 7 skate. Because everything about it was bigger and more dangerous." 

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje on Week 6 of Battle of the Blades

Amanda Evora and Colton Orr played to their strengths of amazing pair tricks that included an impressive attempt — but not perfectly executed — double twist lift. "There have been a couple of doubles that I could have tripled already if we had more time," said Evora. Orr is strong and has an almost natural ability for pair skating. "I think the difference between pair skating and hockey skating is the amount of work that goes into it and the detail, because that can make a difference in the skate," said Orr.

Amanda Evora and Colton Orr performing on Week 6 of Battle of the Blades (Joanna Bell/Greg Henkenhaf Insight Productions / CBC Battle of the Blades)

In the final analysis, the decision came down to a solid — if somewhat wild — performance from Spooner and Poje taking precedence over a more tentative and occasionally shaky skate from Evora and Orr, and it was Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue's shared mark that settled the score.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Sheldon Kennedy skated their first number to "I'm Still Standing." Kennedy described the song as a personal anthem. "I think it kind of sums up not only Battle of the Blades but my own journey. I'm still standing. A real survivor. There's nothing else that needs to be said." The number struck a chord with the audience and judges alike, with the audience giving them a standing ovation. 

"That was your theme song Sheldon," Judge Colby Armstrong said to Kennedy. "The way you skate with her is the way it's supposed to look."

Kaitlyn Weaver and Sheldon Kennedy performing on Week 6 of Battle of the Blades (Insight Productions / CBC Battle of the Blades)

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Bruno Gervais were skating at a disadvantage this week as Gervais recovers from a partial tear to his right bicep that happened on Monday. Coach Paul Martini said it was on a move that they had done "7,000 times before." Just one of those things. "We had to tweak a few things (in the program) but it's painful. There are a couple of times where I have to bite my lip to get through it," said Gervais. Their program this week was fun and modern and even with a problem in the middle of a lift where Gervais set Gordeeva down a little early, the skating was still fast and the expression fluid.

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Bruno Gervais performing on Week 6 of Battle of the Blades (Insight Productions / CBC Battle of the Blades)

The three teams heading to the final next week all skated a second, favourite number that they had skated during the season. For Weaver and Kennedy, this opportunity brought out their connection in their Charlie Chaplin piece. For Gordeeva and Gervais it was definite chemistry in their Ain't No Sunshine program. And Spooner and Poje's quintessential Canadian spirit shone in Canadian Girl.

Let's just call the influence the show is having on fans "the blades effect." Earlier this week on Facebook, a skating fan named Katrina Tan reached out to say: "As a Canadian, I feel a bit embarrassed that I don't know how to skate...but BOTB seriously inspired me to try." 

Two-time Olympic champion Moir was impressed by Tan's efforts and said, "that's what this project is all about. Awesome. Anything that makes someone take up figure skating or hockey for that matter where they can experience the joy of skating is great."

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir returning for Week 6 (Insight Productions / CBC Battle of the Blades)

"The Battle of the Blades' effect is like we talked about before. Archenemies coming together and collaborating. In watching the show, what the audience experiences is unbridled happiness," said Host Ron MacLean. Inspiration, celebration, entertainment and joy — the Battle of the Blades brings it all.


Pj Kwong has been writing, doing social media and occasional commentary for CBC Sports since 2006 with a focus on figure skating. Along with Kurt Browning and Carol Lane, she has been one of the voices in the Behind the Boards podcasts and Facebook Lives. She is an author and a former figure skating coach with 25+ years experience who makes her home in Toronto.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pj Kwong currently does freelance work for Skate Ontario as the Business Development manager and has consulted for Alpine Canada in media relations. She’s been a veteran stadium announcer for eight Olympic Games, two Paralympic Games, one European Games, and the Arab Games. Most recently she’s done stadium announcing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and the 2019 Pan American Games and Parapan American Games. Pj has worked as a freelance writer for CBC Sports since 2006 covering figure skating. Outside of the CBC, Pj has worked in Press Operations for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Media Relations for the Toronto 2017 Invictus Games.

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