By Lara Kuipers
CBC’s Battle of the Blades wrapped up their fifth season on Oct. 31 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre as former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy and his partner ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver won first place.
The prize was $100,000 to the charity of their choice, which was the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.
“It really is a cherry on top that we can give back $100,000 to Canadian Tire [Jumpstart Charities] because we felt like winners already from the start. Sheldon is a gift in my life and I’m just so grateful for this experience,” Weaver said.
Olympic gold medalist Natalie Spooner and her partner ice dancer Andrew Poje finished second, winning $17,500 each for their charities.
Spooner was skating for the Fast and Female charity, while Poje was skating for the Right to Play charity.
In third place were former NHLer Bruno Gervais and his partner figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva. They each won $15,000 for their charities—the Gervais-Talbot Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, respectively.
“The experience was phenomenal. It was hard, it was intense but the build-up to the show and living the show and everything had me fall in love with the sport,” said Gervais, who admitted to even watching figure skating on television last weekend.
The show was judged by former NHLer Colby Armstrong, figure skater Kurt Browning and retired ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
Hosted by Ron MacLean, the show pairs hockey players with figure skaters who compete on a weekly basis for charities of their choice. Each week, one pairing is eliminated by a fan vote.
While the goal of the show is to win money for chosen charities, Kennedy added that for him and Weaver, it was also about reaching Canadians across the country.
“The number one importance for us was to bring hope to those watching,” said Kennedy.
“We wanted to give people the feeling of strength—that if you’re in that dark place or if you’re struggling at all, there is a way. There’s a way to laugh again, there’s a way to have fun, there’s a way to take risks and succeed.”
Spooner also hoped to reach Canadians, particularly girls, with her performance in the finals. She lifted her partner, Poje, to try to show young girls that they can lift their partners too.
“I think it’s okay to be strong, and it’s okay to have muscles and whatever it is, I think that just having that confidence is something that’s really important and that a lot of girls struggle with so hopefully them seeing that can change their point of view,” said Spooner.
Battle of the Blades first aired in October 2009 but ended after four seasons. It was announced in April of this year that the show would be returning for a fifth season.