Canadians have chosen a winner in the Battle of the Blades, the CBC-TV reality series that asks former hockey pros to don figure skates and take up pairs skating.
SPOILER ALERT: This article is about to reveal the winner of the series.
The top pair was Russians Ekaterina (Katia) Gordeeva and Valeri Bure whose romantic skate to From Russia with Love was a highlight of the series.
They won in a tough three-way race that included performances by two other pairs — Isabelle Brasseur and Todd Warriner and Shae-Lynne Bourne and Patrice Brisebois.
“I got paired off with Katia, one of the best skaters ever,” Bure said after the win. “Anybody that you put next to her, she’s going to make them look great. I just got lucky to be [the] chosen one.”
Their win earns $100,000 for Gordeeva's choice of charity Cardiac Kids and Bure's choice, Compassion Canada.
On Sunday, Bure and Gordeeva reprised their performance of From Russia With Love, described by judge Jeremy Roenick as “moving.” They also added a technically advanced performance to Russian pop song Stereo Love.
The couple's speed was impressive and technical elements included some throws and jumps equivalent to many current competitive pairs in skating.
Guest judge Christopher Dean praised the performance, calling Bure “a true pairs skater.”
The couple knew each other in school in Moscow before Bure headed to the NHL and played on Russia's Olympic team and Gordeeva became a two-time Olympic gold medallist.
After the initial July Battle of the Blades bootcamp, Bure said he realized how difficult it was going to be and headed to the gym to lift weights so he could hoist his partner.
Gordeeva said she appreciated the support she got behind the scenes.
“I had a wonderful time, thanks, Val. Thanks, judges. Thanks, Canada,” she said.
This was the second season of the show, which asks female figure pairs skaters and ice dancers to teach former hockey players how to figure skate. Former figure skater and judge Sandra Bezic created the series and she invited Russian skaters to compete this year for the first time.
The level of competition was strong from the first week, with many of the former players who had seen last year's competition pushing themselves to try new things.
By the second week, competitors were trying double throws and the spins and jumps continued getting bigger.
“I love the fact that these men have embraced the whole process of choreography and performance,” Bezic said during Monday's results show.
“I knew that they would push the bar physically and technically, but to embrace the whole emotional side of the performance and skate like they did the whole eight weeks, but especially last night.”
Before the winners were declared, all eight competitive pairs who competed in the second season of Battle of the Blades skated together and there was performance by extreme ice skaters and life parters Violetta Afanasieva and Pete Dack. Afanasieva was paired with P.J. Stock in the competition.
Each participating skater earned $25,000 for a charity of their choice.