Ice Network

Cohesive Bourne, Carter find their 'Battle' groove

Enthusiastic team gears up for next week's international theme
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Shae-Lynn Bourne and Anson Carter meet at center ice. -Battle of the Blades

It's no secret that 10-time Canadian ice dance champion and 2003 world champion Shae-Lynn Bourne is a charismatic figure on the ice. The judges on Battle of the Blades challenged her partner, NHL veteran Anson Carter, to skate up to Bourne's level. Following this past Sunday's "suit and tie" performance to "Unforgettable," the judges praised Carter's poise and great chemistry with his partner.

"It's not something that comes naturally to me as a former hockey player," said Carter, who played 16 NHL seasons. "She's so graceful out there, most of the time she blends her steps into mine. That makes my job a lot easier."

Bourne, 37, participated in seasons one and two of Battle of the Blades, finishing in the runner-up position both times. While thrilled to be back performing on Canadian television and skating with Carter, it's a bit more hectic this time around, as she balances training with being a wife and mother to son Kai, born June 2012.

"I like that we're challenging ourselves to do new routines each week. What you'll see this coming weekend will be completely different from the first and second weeks," Bourne said. "I like that Anson's open to trying new things. That makes my job a lot more fun. I love creating."

Carter, 39, is the father of two daughters, 5 and 7, who were too young to have seen him during his pro hockey days. His kids have only seen him on TV when he's working as an analyst for NBC Sports.

"To give them an opportunity to see me perform as talent in a show like this -- and I know they love figure skating -- it's a dream come true," Carter said. "In addition to that, to be able to support our charities, World Vision's Starting Strong Program for Shae-Lynn and my charity, SOMB (Shirt off My Back foundation), that really is icing on the cake."

"I can't imagine being a part of anything better when you can involve charities," Bourne said.

In addition to elegant footwork, this past Sunday they did an overhead lift.

"Anson's really strong," Bourne said. "Anson is well-rounded and really good in everything. I knew from off-ice that once he got the timing, I felt him to be really steady underneath me."

There will be another lift in this week's "international beat" theme. Bourne promises variety -- combining both ice dance and pairs elements to show that Carter is a versatile performer.

These first two weeks, the atmosphere among the teams has been one of enthusiasm rather than a competitive one. Happy to see Battle of the Blades back after a year's hiatus, people are excited.

"I don't really get a sense that anyone's nervous," Carter said. "We're putting in a lot of hours every single day, so you want to show the fruits of your labor. We're focused, we're concentrating. When Sunday night comes, the chance for us to perform in front of a live audience, for me and for Shae too, it's an adrenaline rush."

"It's live. There's no editing. There are no retakes," Bourne said. "Anson comes alive when it's showtime. That's the moment to shine. He knows when to really give it."

Carter has admitted to his daughters that he's nervous when he's performing on Battle of the Blades, but he's not afraid to try something new and he's embracing the whole experience. He said he hopes they may want to try figure skating.

The duo's choreographer is Renée Roca, with whom Bourne hasn't previously worked. Two couples for whom Roca has choreographed, Jamie Salé and Craig Simpson in season one and Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier in season three, won the competition.

"We all want to learn and be sponges," Carter said. "Sometimes you fall down, but you get back up again. That's what I love about figure skating."