CBC Battle of the Blades Weeks 1 & 2: Amanda Kessel First to Drop

Jerred Bapty
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Thursday, September 26, 2019

HAMILTON, ON – It’s always tough to see people go home so soon after stretching way out of their comfort zone and putting themselves and their reputation on display. 


It was that night for Amanda Kessel and Eric Radford. 


The American National Team superstar forward skated with her partner Eric in the Skate-off against former NHLer and Maple Leaf Colton Orr and his partner Amanda Evora and, despite a fall from Evora, the judges decided to send Kessel packing.


Head Judge Kurt Browning was positive in his review of both pairs, saying that both Kessel and Orr had been told last week to let go and bring out their inner performer, that one did it better than the other, and he would like to keep the one that did. 


Barb Underhill and Darcy Tucker were the guest judges for Week 2, and both gave positive reviews, commenting on the risks both pairs took with their choreography.  wanting more from both skaters, meanwhile it was announced earlier this week that Colby Armstrong would remain on the panel for the duration of the show.


The Scores, now using the six-point system. 


Amanda Kessel & Eric Radford

Armstrong: 5.6

Tucker: 5.6

Underhill: 5.4

Browning: 5.5


Total: 22.1


Colton Orr & Amanda Evora

Armstrong: 5.6

Tucker: 5.7

Underhill: 5.5

Browning: 5.4


Total: 22.2


It’s obvious who Browning would have kept. 


It turned out that Darcy Tucker had the deciding decimal that meant the end of Kessel’s run on Battle of the Blades. 


"I don't think there's anything different we could have done," said Radford Friday morning, reflecting upon their performance. "Amanda made improvements every session, we made improvements as a team every session so that's all we could do."


Despite their early exit, Kessel feels she's found a life-long friend in Radford. Both skaters commented on how similar they are and how much that helped them in training for the show.


"You're able to have a special connection and really talk about meaningful and deep things in life. It wasn't just surface level," said Kessel. 


Each of their charities will receive a donation of $12,500. Kessel skated for the SickKids Foundation and SickKids Toronto, and Radford skated for Eagle, a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of all those a part of the LGBTQI2S community. 


"We just heard the amount today going to our charities and it just hit your heart right away," said Kessel with a tear in her eye. "It really made me happy."


Kessel will take a break before re-joining her hockey counterparts in Chicago along with fellow competitor Natalie Spooner as the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour continues, promoting a sustainable place for women to play hockey, with thhe proper support, working conditions, and a livable wage. 


The theme of the show was “Decades”, with each pair skating to a song representative of a decade of their choice. PJ Stock and Violetta Afanasieva skated for the first time Thursday because of the bye they were given. They skated to Alex Clare's cover of Addicted to Love, representing the 80s. Stock took over when Armstrong injured his hamstring during practice leading up to the show and made the switch to the judges’ chair. 


Bruno Gervais and Ekaterina Gordeeva were next, kicking off with the 1920s with Fergie's 'A Little Party Never Killed Nobody'. Each pair featuring male hockey players were challenged to add throws to their routines, which Gervais and Gordeeva nailed in their up-beat routine. 


Following them, also representing the 80s with 'Broken Wings' by Mister Mister, were Brian McGrattan and Vanessa James. Another throw, lacking a bit of speed, but James managed to save the landing in their emotive and elegant performance. Underhill and Browning commented McGrattan seemed tight in his performance as some moves didn't go quite right for the pair. 


Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje took the ice, repping the 80s, 90s, and modern day with their dance to Kygo's mix of Whitney Houstons' 'Higher Love'. Their inspired and groovy routine brought the audience in Hamilton to their feet with Spooner's vibrant energy.


Sheldon Kennedy and Kaitlyn Weaver electrified the audience again to cap off the voting dances with their high-intensity routine representing the 70s with 'Hot Stuff' by Donna Summer. The audience lept to their feet from the eccentric performance from both Weaver and Kennedy, showing just how much fun they're both having.


Kessel and Radford put together a moving performance to 'Strong Enough' by Cher for the 90s to show off Kessel's new-found grace and performability. Orr and Evora danced to Ciara's emotive cover of 'Paint it Black'.


Complete Standings (Week 1 Finish)


1. Sheldon Kennedy & Kaitlyn Weaver: 23.7 (1st)

2. Bruno Gervais & Ekaterina Gordeeva: 23 (2nd)

T3. Natalie Spooner & Andrew Poje: 22.9 (3rd)

T3. PJ Stock & Violetta Afanasieva: 22.9 

5. Brian McGrattan & Vanessa James: 22.4 (4th)

6. Colton Orr & Amanda Evora: 22.2 (5th)


Eliminated: Amanda Kessel & Eric Radford (6th)


Let me know what you think!

Twitter: @CaptainBapty

Email: jerred@barnburner.ca

Photo: @CBC