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"Cutting Edge" franchise continues on ABC Family

Fourth film to debut in March

Brendan Fehr and Francia Raisa fight their way to love and gold in <i>The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice</i> on ABC Family this March.
Brendan Fehr and Francia Raisa fight their way to love and gold in The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice on ABC Family this March. (ABC Family/Bob D'Amico)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(02/22/2010) - "I really like the whole love storyline. I'm in love with love," said actress Francia Raisa, who returns to the role of figure skater-turned hockey player-turned pairs skater Alejandra "Alex" Delgado for The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice, which premieres on ABC Family on March 14.

At the heart of each Cutting Edge movie is a love story set in the world of competitive figure skating. The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice is the fourth installment of the popular concept, which began with the 1992 theatrical film, The Cutting Edge.

"People remember that movie. It definitely raised ice skating awareness," said John Denton, who was the skating double for D.B. Sweeney in the first movie. Denton's partner for the film was Sharon Carz, who doubled for Moira Kelly. In an interesting twist, Carz returned for the 2006 movie The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold, where she was not only seen but heard, with a small speaking part.

"I really like how 'The Cutting Edge' story starts out with these two people who can't stand each other and they fall in love," Raisa said. "I also like the sports side of it because I used to ice skate myself."

Raisa, 21, pestered her mother for skating lessons after watching the Winter Olympics on television as a child. She competed a few times, but eventually quit because she didn't really enjoy the competition aspect. Also, being in a cold ice rink at 5 a.m. wasn't a lot of fun.

"You really have to have that passion and that drive for skating to be able to do it," she said. "My heart was with dancing. In dancing, you sweat and you get hot. In ice skating, you're freezing half the time."

She was grateful for those cold mornings when she was cast for the 2008 film, The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream opposite Matt Lanter.

"When I got back on the ice, it was like my feet never forgot what it was like to be on the ice. I was able to pick up the mechanics," Raisa said.

In a fun twist, this time the girl was the hockey player. In the first film, Kelly's character, Kate Moseley, teamed with hockey player Doug Dorsey, played by Sweeney. That led to the oft-repeated line, "Toe pick," which has appeared in each of the sequels. Raisa had to film a few scenes in hockey skates, and said she kept asking, "Where are the edges?"

In Chasing the Dream, Raisa and Lanter practiced for about a month to get the look of being partners and creating a chemistry that could be captured in the skating sequences, where they did quite a lot of work in addition to the skating doubles doing the technical action.

Pair skater Sean Rice appeared in the first Cutting Edge. He and his partner/wife Jodeyne Higgins actually got a call last year asking if they'd like to appear in Fire and Ice, but they were busy working on the real-life version, CBC's Battle of the Blades, where Higgins skated with former Stanley Cup Champion Ken Daneyko.

"It's cool that the legacy goes on," said Rice, who said there was a true Cutting Edge moment on the first night of Battle of the Blades. He said some of the hockey players looked a little green before they had to perform.

"I asked, 'Do you feel like you're going to puke?' because I was thinking of the movie," he said, describing a sequence where Sweeney's character threw up backstage just before they took the ice for their short program at nationals.

Rice also recalled the detail work that went into filming the skating sequences, something that exists in all the films. "They were taking the time and making the effort to get all the angles," he said. "Using devices that were out on the ice to simulate that people were spinning."

Former Canadian pairs champion Doug Ladret, now a coach in Arizona, played Russian pairs skater Brushkin in the original film. He appreciates that although all The Cutting Edge films exaggerate some aspects of the sport-most notably that one of the members of the pair comes from outside the sport-they take a look at the intense training and dedication required to make it happen. The movies also show that skaters do have a sense of humor.

"Because it took a lighter look at what we do, we got into a few details off the ice of what happens at competitions, the interactions of competitors, the social aspect of it," Ladret said. "It wasn't taking itself too too seriously and it was showing the reality and the humanity of a sport."

Raisa said her co-star for The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice Brendan Fehr, cursed the toe pick quite a few times as he prepared to play Alex's new partner, James McKinsey, a smoldering bad boy speed skater who turns to pairs skating after he is banned from speed skating. In real life Fehr is a former hockey player who loved ice but wasn't too sure about figure skates.

"The toe picks were his challenge," Raisa said. "Other than that, it was hard for him to be graceful because in hockey you had to be so rough and hard. He got it eventually."

On film, "I like how they grew together as a team," she said. "Them working hard, and the relationship."

The skating doubles in both films Raisa has done were married pairs teams. She enjoyed hearing about the real life dramas of the sport.

"It was similar to some of the drama I created for my character, Alex," Raisa said.

For the past two years, Raisa has played the character of Adrian Lee on the popular ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She's excited that her fans from that show will now become part of the Cutting Edge fan base.

"I have so much faith in my fans," she said. "I know they will support me and watch The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice, I've been tweeting about it and they're all very excited."

If there is The Cutting Edge 5 is she ready?

"I'm always ready to lace up my skates," she said.