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Grit versus grace on the ice

Fifteen years with the NHL wasn’t enough to prepare former Canuck Russ Courtnall for the demands of figure skating on CBC’s Battle Of The Blades.

Fifteen years with the NHL wasn’t enough to prepare former Canuck Russ Courtnall for the demands of figure skating on CBC’s Battle Of The Blades.

The former Olympian, along with seven other ex-NHLers, will be paired up with figure skating champions for the second season of the hit series, which is kind of like Dancing With The Stars on ice.

The preview episode aired last night.

“Putting on the (figure) skates … my brain was saying, ‘I know how to do this,’ and my body was saying, ‘You don’t,’ ” said Courtnall.

He said he would go to public skates at his local rink in Los Angeles and eavesdrop on instructors coaching kids to get tips.

“It took me 24 hours of skating by myself to get to the point where I could go on to the ice and not fall down,” he said.

Shae-Lynn Bourne, a former Olympic figure skater and fellow competitor, said the challenge for the women is trusting their partners with lifts.

“It takes a long time to earn trust in any relationship,” she said. “The guys know they have to take care of their partners. They’re such gentlemen.”

Bourne and Courtnall said the show does a lot to promote hockey and figure skating to people who may have pre-conceived notions about the two disciplines, or to people who thought the sports were rivals.

“It shows just how difficult figure skating is,” Bourne said. “We should be very proud because Canada rocks at figure skating and hockey.”

Added Courtnall: “It’s brought both sports together.”

 
 
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