Press Release

Belbin, Navarro to join 'Battle of the Blades' cast

Female hockey player joins competition for the first time

Tessa Bonhomme, a female hockey player, will team with David Pelletier.
Tessa Bonhomme, a female hockey player, will team with David Pelletier. (courtesy of CBC)

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(08/22/2011) - For the first time ever, a female hockey player will join the ranks of the NHL veterans and world-class figure skaters to compete in CBC's smash-hit live series, BATTLE OF THE BLADES. Olympic gold medalist and member of the Canadian national women's hockey team, Tessa Bonhomme, will swap her hockey blades for figure skates when the hotly-anticipated third season kicks-off on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. with BATTLE OF THE BLADES: GAME ON.

"I can't wait to take on the NHL players and show them that women's hockey has come a long way," said an excited Tessa Bonhomme. "I am honored to be the first woman representing all those who play our great game and with a partner like David Pelletier, we will try to take it easy on the NHL guys."

Since Season 1, the fans have been asking for a female hockey player to be part of the competition and this season BATTLE OF THE BLADES producers were able to pair two Olympic gold medalists with Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier.

BATTLE OF THE BLADES partners stars of hockey and figure skating to battle it out in a weekly live skating competition for a $100,000 first prize donation to the charity of their choice. Broadcast from the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, the live elimination competition series airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. The live results show follows every Monday night at 8 p.m. where, week after week, a pair will be eliminated until the new Champions are crowned. A total of $290,000 will be donated to charities throughout the eight-week series.

The line-up of hockey players for BATTLE OF THE BLADES Season 3 include:

• Tessa Bonhomme was part of Canada's gold-medal winning women's hockey team at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. A member of the Canadian national women's Hockey Team since 2004, she has won gold and silver medals in world championship competitions, along with numerous awards and records in college hockey during her time with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

• Bryan Berard, the Rhode Island native was the first overall pick in the 1995 NHL Draft and played for six NHL teams including the Toronto Maple Leafs. On March 11, 2000, while playing for the Leafs in a game against the Senators in Ottawa, the stick of Mariàn Hossa clipped Bryan in the right eye, severely injuring it. With incredible determination and after seven eye surgeries, Bryan returned to the NHL completing one of the greatest comeback stories in hockey history.

• Brad May was immortalized with broadcaster Rick Jeanneret's famous "May Day!" call after scoring a series-clinching goal for Buffalo in the 1993 playoffs against Boston. The former Toronto Maple Leaf (2008-2009) and Vancouver Canuck (1997-2000 and 2002-2004) won the Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Anaheim Ducks.

• Boyd Devereaux, an Ontario native, won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002 and a World Junior Championships where he scored the winning goals in both the semi-final and gold medial games in 1997. Boyd played for four NHL teams including the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. • Wade Belak, the legendary brawler who scored memorable goals against the likes of Martin Brodeur, Robert Luongo and Chris Mason, played for the Calgary Flames (1999-2001) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (2001-2008) in addition to stints with Colorado, Nashville and the Florida Panthers.

• Defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, and also spent time with the Quebec Nordiques (1988-1995) and Ottawa Senators. Curtis is an avid cyclist and is known as one of the most fit NHL players.

• Ex-Calgary Flame (1996-2000, 2006) Cale Hulse also played for New Jersey, Nashville, Phoenix and Columbus. The 6-foot-3 Alberta native is no stranger to television sets, as he is married to actress Gina Lee Nolin.

The figure skaters featured in BATTLE OF THE BLADES Season 3 include:

• David Pelletier, a three-time Canadian pairs champion, world champion, Grand Prix Final champion and Olympic gold medalist, who in 2002, captured Canada's first Olympic gold medal in pairs skating in 42 years. David, with partner and BATTLE OF THE BLADES Season 1 and 2 star Jamie Salé, has been inducted into both the Skate Canada Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy, awarded to outstanding Canadian athletes.

• From the legendary Russian pair skating dynasty, two-time world champion and four-time Russian national champion Elena Berezhnaya, with partner Anton Sikharulidze, shares the 2002 Olympic gold medal with Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, awarded amidst the historic judging scandal. Elena and David now face each other again in BATTLE OF THE BLADES.

• Canadian-born Tanith Belbin is a five-time U.S. ice dance champion, four-time world medalist and 2006 Olympic ice dance silver medalist with her partner Ben Agosto. Together they won the first Olympic ice dance medal in 30 years for the United States.

• Returning from Season 1 after having her first baby is five-time Canadian ice dance champion Marie-France Dubreuil. With her husband Patrice Lauzon, she is the 2006 and 2007 world silver medalist. Marie-France and BATTLE OF THE BLADES partner Stephane Richer are remembered as fan favorites.

• Returning from Season 2 is world and Olympic team member and 2008 Canadian pairs champion Anabelle Langlois. Anabelle came back from a near career-ending foot injury to compete at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver with partner Cody Hay. She skated with Georges Laraque last season.

• Also returning is Russian-born Violetta Afanasieva who joined the Moscow Circus on Ice at the age of 12 and won the first-ever Extreme Ice Skating World Championship with Canadian partner/husband Peter Dack in 2006. Last season she skated with PJ Stock.

• Joining the cast for Season 3 is American Kim Navarro, a U.S. world team member and two-time U.S. ice dance bronze medalist with partner Brent Bommentre.

• And Marcy Hinzmann-Harris, a U.S. World and Olympic team member and two-time U.S. pairs medalist with partner Aaron Parchem.

About BATTLE OF THE BLADES:
For more information about the competitors, please visit www.cbc.ca/battle, the official online portal of BATTLE OF THE BLADES. BATTLE OF THE BLADES is the brainchild of Kevin Albrecht with development by Sandra Bezic. BATTLE OF THE BLADES executive producers are John Brunton, Barbara Bowlby and Kevin Albrecht. Senior Producer is Sandra Bezic and Supervising Producer is Lindsay Cox. It is produced by Insight Productions in association with CBC Television.