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Navarro's blog: 'Battle,' from different perspective

Voted-off cast member sees show from spectator's point of view

Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier are feted by their fellow cast members.
Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier are feted by their fellow cast members. (Insight Productions/CBC)

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By Kim Navarro, special to icenetwork.com
(11/15/2011) - Returning to Battle of the Blades for the finale, I was looking forward to two things: Getting to watch the show as an audience member, and getting to hear what these hockey players have made of their experience.

On Sunday night, the returning cast members (those not in the final three spots) got to sit in the audience, in the section called "The Island," where teams usually sit if they are safe on elimination night. Todd Simpson was pretty happy, as he never got to sit on The Island this season.

As the show started, I ran the whole gamut of emotions. I was nervous and excited (Tessa and Dave, have you seen their tricks?), then deeply touched (Marie-France and Bryan) and then thoroughly entertained and happy (Tanith and Boyd.) And that was just during their first numbers.

I realized while sitting there that not only is this show fun to perform in, but it is also incredibly fun to watch. And it wasn't just me thinking that. Brad May said later, "Wow, for those people who get tickets to the show, they are really getting a great show. So entertaining."

Marcy and Violetta both said how impressed they were with the show, and how when they watched it, they had this feeling of amazement to have been a part of it. And I knew exactly what they were talking about. The show, as a show, is truly fantastic. (I wish those in the U.S. could really see this. If there is a fourth season of Battle of the Blades, I highly recommend booking a trip to Toronto!) And to realize you were a part of it, you feel a mix of amazement and pride.

That said, we all still wanted to be out there and in the competition.

This whole time, I have been impressed with what these hockey players have done on the ice, because it is all so foreign to them. They have put themselves in figure skates and put themselves out there in front of all of Canada. There is no question that hockey skating and figure skating are two different beasts, and the transition they have all made on the ice from one to another is incredible.

But what I never thought of was how different these two things are in respect to their "sport." In hockey, you get a goal, you score. And if you don't, you don't. It is fairly black and white.

Figure skating is not as clear; it is subjective. We all know that. Maybe you mess up and it is reflected in the scores, while someone else messes up, and it doesn't matter because there was something more compelling about their performance.

While figure skaters are well practiced in this aspect of the sport, this is something really confusing to the hockey players. I mean, can you imagine? They are working so hard, only to feel like all their work is up against someone else's opinion. Add the audience voting portion to the competition, and forget it. It is frustrating.

I want to apologize to these players for giving them this gift from the figure skating world.

It doesn't seem like a fair trade-off. What they gave us was a sense of team, something you don't really find in an individual sport like figure skating. In the dressing room, Tanith [Belbin] was commenting on how great this group of girls were and how we all got along.

Marie-France [Dubreuil] said, "I think that is because of Tessa [Bonhomme, the female hockey player]. She made us feel like we were part of a team."

And just as I was about to feel really bad for the hockey players, for getting the short end of the stick, I remembered something else they got from this whole figure skating experience: They got to perform. They got a spotlight.

Anabelle [Langlois] often said how much she loved seeing Brad's face light up when they were performing, and I know I will miss Russ' beaming smile the next show I do (nothing personal, Brent.)

In the end, everyone took something away from the experience, and the best best part is that 11 charities got a chunk of money and a good deal of recognition.

And just because the show is over doesn't mean anyone has to stop showing support for these charities.

The holidays are coming up. Shop through the show's 11 charities and find one to give a little to. (Might I suggest the Tourette's Syndrome Neurodevelopmental Clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital?) Or maybe find a local charity that speaks to you and donate $10. It might put you in a festive mood.