'Battle of the Blades' moves ahead with season
Season premiere special 'Game On' will feature special tribute to Wade Belak
|Olympic silver medalist Tanith Belbin is a contestant on season three of Battle of the Blades. (courtesy of CBC)|
Game On, the series opener, documents the cast's career accomplishments, personal stories and how far they must come to prepare for their first live performance. The show reveals why these athletes are taking on this challenge for their chosen charities. The show will also include a heartfelt memorial tribute to Belak by Ron MacLean, incorporating footage showing the enthusiasm and humor he brought to the training sessions.
"Wade's death has been devastating for our entire Battle of the Blades family, and our thoughts are with all members of his own family at this time. But we believe he would want us to move ahead, and we are looking forward to season three of Battle of the Blades," said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice president of CBC English Services.
"Our hearts go out to Wade's family and friends, and he is greatly missed by our cast and crew," said John Brunton, executive producer and CEO of Insight Productions. "Our cast came together and told us that they felt strongly about doing the show as a tribute to Wade. Battle of the Blades season three has taken on a whole new meaning for them."
New to the Battle of the Blades competitor lineup is former NHL defenseman Todd Simpson. Hailing from North Vancouver, British Columbia, and then Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alberta, Simpson has a special connection with Belak, as he played his junior hockey for the Saskatoon Blades, where Belak was his defensive partner. Simpson began his NHL career with the Calgary Flames in 1994. He played with the Flames for four years and was named team captain in 1997. Simpson went on to play for six other NHL team throughout the course of his 10-year career. An eighth NHL player is hoped to be cast this week, who will partner with U.S. World Team member Kim Navarro, who was paired with Belak.
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 donates a total of $290,000 to charities throughout the eight-week series.
The first Battle of the Blades live performance will be comprised of one-hour competitions Sunday, Sept. 25 and Monday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. Fans have asked for no elimination in the first week, but these performances will still count toward the first elimination held in week two. Subsequent weeks will feature performance shows on Sunday evenings followed by the dramatic, live "skate-off" results shows on Monday nights.