Battle Of The Blades

Christine “Tuffy” Hough-Sweeney and her partner Tie Domi were fan-favourites from season one of Battle of the Blades, and she is back to compete again this year and looking to win.

Christine joined forces with her pairs skating partner Doug Ladret in 1984 and the two went on to compete five times at the World Figure Skating Championships and twice at the Winter Olympics. The dynamite duo won a total of six medals at the Canadian Nationals, including Gold in 1988. Christine turned pro and hit the Stars on Ice circuit with Ladret, performing for four years on the Canadian and U.S. tours. The pair also performed with Skate the Nation and appeared in the feature film The Cutting Edge.

In 1996 she married former Boston Bruins player Don Sweeney. Born in Renfrew, ON, and currently living in Boston, Christine now works as a coach at the Skating Club of Boston. A mother of 11-year old twins, Jarrod and Tyler, she is thrilled to be returning to the show this fall.a

Shae-Lynn Bourne is quite simply magic on ice. Together with her former ice dance partner Victor Kraatz, this Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Famer quickly rose to the top of the podium. The 10-time Canadian National Dance Champions became the first North American dance team to win the World Championships in 2003. In addition to being three-time Olympians, they have accumulated a total of six medals at the World Championships.

The two innovators were the first ice dancers to incorporate “hydroblading” – gliding on skates with one’s body outstretched so it’s nearly horizontal to the ice. Shae-Lynn received the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross for speaking out against unfair judging practices in figure skating. Currently she is balancing coaching, choreography and performing and is in world-wide demand in each of these capacities.

Shae-Lynn, who placed a close second in last year’s show with her partner Claude Lemieux, is excited to return to Battle of the Blades and coach and choreograph her new partner from an NHL legend into a figure skating champion.

Violetta Afanasieva is a breathtaking performer who has taken the art of figure skating to an entirely new, boundary-pushing level. Born into a circus family, her mother was a three-time Moscow junior pairs champion and her father was a graduate of the Russian School of Circus Art. Violetta is excited to bring her extreme skating and acrobatic abilities to this season’s Battle of the Blades.

Violetta competed nationally before retiring from amateur skating at 10 years old to perform professionally alongside her parents in the Moscow Circus on Ice, where she debuted her legendary hulahoops act at the age of 13. This act took her on skating tours all over the world, including the Holiday on Ice productions of “Gypsy/Broadway” and “Xotika” where she met her Canadian husband and current partner, Pete Dack. Since 2000, Afanasieva and Dack have been thrilling audiences with their exotic skating routine that incorporates cirque, contortion and acrobatics.

In 2006 they achieved their ultimate goal when they won the first-ever “Extreme Ice Skating World Champions” title in St. Petersburg, Russia, earning a perfect score from six of the seven judges. Together they live in Peterborough, ON.

Ekaterina “Katia” Gordeeva is considered to be one of the greatest and most beloved pair skaters in the history of figure skating. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, was named by People magazine as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” Viewers will be mesmerized by her in this season’s Battle of the Blades.

Katia was born in Moscow, and at age four she began her path to stardom as part of the Soviet Union’s Central Red Army Club (CSKA), an elite program that trained many of the country’s top athletes. At 11 she was paired with Sergei Grinkov and from that point on their lives were forever changed. Gordeeva and Grinkov’s impressive skating career included two Olympic Gold Medals (1988 and 1994) and four World Championships. Together they won almost every competition they entered: of 31 competitions they finished first 24 times and never came lower than second. Their professional relationship eventually crossed over into romance and in April of 1991 they married and welcomed the birth of their daughter Daria two years later. Tragically, in November 1995 at the age of 28, Grinkov suffered a fatal heart attack while on the ice rehearsing. Katia’s heartfelt memoir, My Sergei, A Love Story became a national best seller and her emotional return to skating was captured by the television special, A Celebration of Life, a tribute to her late husband.

Katia currently lives in California with her figure skating husband, World and Olympic Champion Ilia Kulik, with whom she had a second daughter, Elizaveta in 2001. She has been a Target spokesperson, launched two fragrances, and appeared in advertisements for Rolex and Milk. She also continues to perform in skating exhibitions all over the world as a solo skater.

Three-time Olympian Kyoko Ina, described by the New York Times as a “rock ‘n roll New Yorker,” thrills audiences by bringing her big city energy to the ice. Known for her feisty, competitive spirit, this five-time U.S. Champion is excited to be part of this year’s Battle of the Blades as the sole American figure skater.

Kyoko was born in Tokyo and moved to New York City as an infant, where she learned to skate at the Rockefeller Center. Together with her first partner Jason Dungjen, they won the U.S. Pairs Championship in both 1997 and 1998 and competed in two Winter Olympics, placing fourth at the 1998 Games in Nagano. Kyoko then partnered with John Zimmerman and together they held the U.S. Pairs title for three consecutive years (2000-2002), placed fifth at the 2002 Olympic Games and won the Bronze Medal at the World Championships just a few weeks later. Ina and Zimmerman became one of the most respected American pair teams of the decade and are fan favourites worldwide.

After turning professional in 2002, they went on to enjoy an extended professional career including touring with Stars on Ice and appearances in numerous televised skating shows and live exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and North America. Kyoko currently lives in New Jersey with her three Pomeranians.

Jamie Salé is coming off a sensational year. She is the reigning champion of Battle of the Blades and served as a colour commentator for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Games. Proven to have what it takes to win, Jamie is back this season and looking to defend her first-place title.

Jamie and her pairs skating partner David Pelletier teamed up in 1998 and over their prolific competitive career, they have won a total of 15 gold medals, including three National titles and the World title in 2001. In 2002 they were Canada’s first Olympic Gold Medallists in pairs skating in 42 years. Their dramatic performance at the Salt Lake City Winter Games, and the way they conducted themselves throughout the judging controversy, helped propel them to become one of the most beloved pair teams in the history of the sport. Their electrifying long program at the 2001 World Championships in Vancouver not only earned them the Gold Medal, but also the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s Athletes of the Year. Another one of their high points was an unprecedented five perfect 6.0 scores from judges at the 2000 Canadian Championships – the first of their three consecutive national titles.

Jamie currently lives in Edmonton, AB, with her son Jesse. Jamie is excited for the chance to show her new partner the ropes and maintain her championship title.

Isabelle Brasseur was enticed out of retirement in 2009 to compete in the inaugural season of Battle of the Blades. She is delighted to be back for the second season to “teach hockey players what figure skating is all about.”

Combining powerful throws and daring lifts with knock ’em dead showmanship, the five-time Canadian Pairs Champion claimed the Gold Medal at the World Pairs Championship in 1993 with her partner Lloyd Eisler. One of the most successful pair teams in Canada’s history, Brasseur and Eisler are also three-time World Silver Medalists and two-time Olympic Bronze Medalists – once, remarkably, while Isabelle was suffering from a broken rib. Known for pushing the limits, their differences in style, nature and size soon proved to be their strength.

Born in Kingsbury, QC, Isabelle grew up in St. Jean sur Richelieu. The city has honoured her accomplishments by naming a skating arena after her. She currently has a skating school and is coaching in New Jersey where she resides with her family.

With a reputation for lightning fast skating and breathtaking stick handling, Russ Courtnall is one competitor to watch in this season of Battle of the Blades. Encouraged by his good friends Pamela Anderson and Wayne Gretzky, Russ is no stranger to the entertainment world.

Born in Duncan, BC, and following in his older brother Geoff’s footsteps, Russ was considered one of the top prospects coming out of the junior leagues and was selected seventh overall in the 1983 NHL entry draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. After six years with the Leafs, Courtnall joined the Montreal Canadiens where his speed and style made him a fan favourite during the four years he spent there. For the next seven years, he also played for the Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings before retiring in 1999. During the course of 15 seasons in the NHL, Russ played over 1000 games, finishing with 297 goals and 744 points.

Russ currently lives in California with his wife Paris Vaughan (daughter of Sarah Vaughan) and their three children, Ally, Lawton and Brooklyn. He is a partner of the Vancouver-based athletic apparel company, FIRSTAR Sports, which is a sponsor of this season’s Battle of the Blades.

Kelly Chase is known to be a tough, physical player with a reputation as an enforcer on the ice. However, don’t let his tough guy persona speak for his actions off the ice, where he is a respected community leader and sports enthusiast in his adopted home of St. Louis, MO. Thrilled to be a competitor, Kelly promises to play nice most of the time in this season’s Battle of the Blades.

Kelly was born in Porcupine Plain, SK, in 1967 where he played for both the WHL (Saskatoon Blades) and the IHL (Peoria Riverman) before joining the NHL with the St. Louis Blues in 1988. In his first NHL season he assumed the role of enforcer, racking up 244 penalty minutes in 43 games. In 1995, the Hartford Whalers claimed Kelly off waivers before trading him to the Toronto Maple Leafs (where he only played two games, but managed to pick up 27 minutes of penalties). Returning to the Blues in 1997, he went on to win the 1998 King Clancy Trophy, given by the NHL to the player that best exemplifies leadership qualities both on and off the ice. Kelly retired from hockey in 2000 finishing with 2017 penalty minutes in 458 career games.

Kelly Chase now works as a colour commentator for the St. Louis Blues broadcast team. In 2008, he received the Jack Buck Award for his enthusiasm and dedication to sports in St. Louis. He has been a St. Louis alumni for the last 22 years and a three-time winner of the Mayors Award for his city involvement. He is also the recipient of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the province of Saskatchewan. He and his wife Raelynn have three sons, Will, Ben, and Luke. After being diagnosed with a brain lesion in 2008, Kelly is fully recovered and looking forward to returning to the ice.

Theo Fleury is perhaps the most unlikely player to make it to the NHL, where he became an undisputed superstar. One of the smallest players at 5’6″, he was one of the fiercest competitors in the history of the NHL. Fans can expect this same brash, spirited passion from Theo in season two of Battle of the Blades.

Theo enjoyed many successes during his 14-year NHL career – a Stanley Cup ring in 1989, a 50-goal season, more than 1,000 points, seven All-Star games and an Olympic Gold Medal in Salt Lake City. But his life off the ice was far more challenging and eventually caused his Hall of Fame-worthy career to derail. Theo’s top-selling memoir Playing with Fire reveals he had a troubled childhood growing up in a poor family in Russell, MB, and was sexually abused as a teenager by his junior coach. As a result, he struggled through two decades of failed relationships and gambling, drug and alcohol addiction.

Theo has now been clean and sober for four years and is happily married to his wife, Jennifer. He has worked hard to overcome his addictions and now gives hope and inspiration to others through his many speaking engagements across Canada and his own organization, The Theo Fleury Foundation.