Jamie Salé, Barbara Underhill, Isabelle Brasseur, Christine "Tuffy" Hough-Sweeney, Jodeyne Higgins, Shae-Lynn Bourne, Marie-France Dubreuil and Kristina Lenko could have their work cut out for them as they pair up with eight former pro hockey players from various NHL teams -- who may or may not be wearing hockey skates -- when CBC-TV's on-ice, reality show Battle of the Blades debuts October 4.
Over the course of seven weeks, viewers at home and a panel of judges headed by master choreographer Sandra Bezic will decide which of the women has done the best job of molding her former stickhandling, shoulder-pad wearing hockey jock into a lithe, if not graceful, skating partner capable of lifting and spinning in tandem and generally sashaying across the ice to music. The shows, hosted by Kurt Browning and veteran CBC sportscaster Ron MacLean, will be performed in a Toronto area arena for a live audience.
The winning couple in the elimination-style competition earns $100,000 for the charity or charities of their choice. Each eliminated pair receives $25,000. The winners will be crowned November 16.
In the country where almost every Canadian-born youngster laces on skates -- with or without picks -- sometime during their elementary school years, CBC is counting on the figure skater-hockey player match-ups to grab the public's attention as the Olympic season gets underway.
Bezic admits that the first question the men asked when they were approached to participate was: "Am I going to look like an idiot?"
Understandably, none of them wanted to risk ridicule by agreeing to trade their hockey jerseys for something a little more stylish -- and perhaps sparkly. Bezic points out none of the women were interested in looking foolish either.