Rochette, Sale, Pelletier skate on Canada's Genies

Olympic skating legends perform live during awards ceremony

Olympic champions Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette on the red carpet at the Genies.
Olympic champions Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette on the red carpet at the Genies. (George Pimentel/WireImage)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(03/13/2012) - The producers of this year's Genie Awards (Canada's version of the Oscars) decided on a unique way to present the five nominees for best original song. They called upon renowned Canadian skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and Joannie Rochette to perform routines that interpreted the music.

A sheet of plastic ice was placed on the stage at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto on the evening of March 8. The small plastic surface did not allow for many skating maneuvers -- jumping was out -- but the skaters made the best of it for their 30-second routines.

Salé said she could feel the excitement from the audience from their first spot.

"We could look at the people's faces, and they were kind of like, 'Oh wow!' People didn't have any idea there was going to be skating going on.

"Most people knew it wasn't real ice," she added. "Still, they thought it was pretty cool."

Salé and Pelletier performed to "My Love, My Love" from Cloudburst, "A Different Sort of Solitude" from French Immersion and "Waiting for Your Touch" from Funkytown. Rochette's songs were "Quelque Part" from Starbuck (the winner) and "Oeil Pour Oeil" from Good Neighbours.

Due to the logistics, the musicians and singers did their part before the show went on the air, but the skaters were totally live, which led to some nerves.

"We're perfectionists, and we want to do what we're best at, but we couldn't do that," Salé said, adding that Rochette was frustrated by the limitations of plastic ice. "I said, 'Joannie, it's not about a skating performance. It's about moving to music. They're not expecting us to skate like we normally skate. This is a beautiful type of movement for 30 seconds. See it that way.' She was wonderful and great in her performances, as usual.

"We tried to do a couple of tricks we could do that weren't too dangerous. The energy was good."

The three skaters got to participate in all the pre- and post-show festivities, including walking the red carpet and attending the post-show party, where Salé met Vancouver native Jason Priestley, perhaps best known for his role as Brandon Walsh on Beverly Hills 90210.

Salé ran into singer Johnny Reid, whom she'd previously met at the Canadian Country Music Awards in 2010, and was pleased when he recognized her. (He has a skating connection, as former British men's champion Steven Cousins has performed several programs to Reid's music.)

The show was hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, who has interviewed quite a few skaters on his popular CBC show, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

"I don't know a lot of actors, so I was a little out of my element that way, but it's always nice networking and meeting different people," Salé said.

Sale thought the skating performances went over extremely well.

"It was a really different, neat concept for everybody," she said. "The producers and everybody with CBC were so happy because they'd never done that before.

"It was an awesome night. Everybody was talking about it at the after party.

"It was a neat experience for us. We don't really get the opportunity to do something like this very often."