Battle of the Blades is a Canadian reality show where eight pairs of skaters (each consisting of a hockey player and a figure skater) compete against one another, with the prize money of $100,000 being donated to the charities selected by the winning pair. Wojtek Wolski, a member of the Washington Capitals during the 2012-13 season, won this season’s Battle of the Blades competition with his skating partner, Meagan Duhamel.
This year was the sixth in which the show has been produced, originally airing in 2009 and continuing through 2013, before being revived in 2019. This year’s season started later than normal on October 22, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and took place at the CAA Centre, located in Brampton, Ontario. Unlike most seasons of the show, there were no fans in attendance to cheer on the participants. During each week of the competition, each skating pair performs their routine, with the lowest-ranked performing pairs eliminated from competition.
In many ways, this competition brought athletes out of their comfort zones as most hockey players had never worn figure skates before. However, all participating skaters shared a competitive spirit and a drive to win.
Wolski and Duhamel were never the winners of any particular week but performed consistently well enough to earn the top score. Each week, they brought a routine of new tricks, lifts, and throws and skated their way into the judges and audiences’ hearts.
In Week 1, aired on October 22, they performed to “Unstoppable”.
In Week 2, aired on October 29, they performed a Halloween-themed Performance of “Bad Things” by Jace Everett.
In Week 3, they performed to “Don’t Give Up On Me” by Andy Grammar. During the week’s rehearsals, Duhamel’s face had slammed against Wolski’s shoulder and a broken nose was suspected, however, she was eventually cleared for competition.
Week 4, airing on November 12, was a routine to kick off “Canada Week”. They dressed in flannel shirts and performed to “Hometown Kids” by The Reklaws.
In Week 5, which aired on November 19, they performed to “Reset” by Rich Aucoin, which featured Wolski doing a “Detroiter”, a tough skating move.
For the finale in Week 6, which aired on November 26, they performed to “What A Wonderful World” by Reuben and the Dark, with both performing a throw triple salchow for the first time in “Battle of the Blades”.
Below, they are shown with their trophy. More information and videos of each of the songs to which they performed can be found here.
The charities that Wolski and Duhamel competed for were the Sandra Schmirler Foundation and The Hospital for Sick Children’s Patient Amenities Fund. The Sandra Schmirler Foundation’s mission is to raise funds for hospital Newborn Intensive Care Units to purchase life-saving equipment for premature and critically ill newborns, while the Hospital for Sick Children’s Patient Amenities Fund is a source of assistance for families who have limited financial resources and whose child is being cared for by SickKids.
Wolski considered “Battle of the Blades” as more than just a competition, “2020 has been an extremely tough year for everyone. I personally lost my grandfather in March, my wife was then diagnosed with COVID-19 and a month later my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Being on this show and winning has been life changing. It helped bring a lot of hope and positivity into my life at a time when darkness could have easily taken over.”
Duhamel said afterwards, “It was a true honour to skate for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation during my time on Battle of the Blades. They are a charity I feel personally connected to and I am so happy to have brought them awareness and the winning prize money!”
Here is a list of all participating skaters and the charities for which they were raising money while competing.
|Jessica Campbell||Asher Hill||Do It For Daron (Campbell), FreedomSchool — Toronto (Hill)|
|Anthony Stewart||Violetta Afanasieva||Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities|
|Bryan Bickell||Kaitlyn Weaver||The Bickell Foundation (in support of the MS Society of Canada)|
|Meghan Agosta||Andrew Poje||BC Children’s Hospital|
|Akim Aliu||Vanessa James||The Time To Dream Foundation|
|Kris Versteeg||Carlotta Edwards||Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society (Versteeg), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area (Edwards)|
|Jennifer Botterill||Eric Radford||The Canadian Cancer Society|
|Wojtek Wolski||Meagan Duhamel||The Hospital for Sick Children (Wolski), Sandra Schmirler Foundation (Duhamel)|
Wolski’s background is one of interest and adversity. He immigrated from Poland to Canada with his family when he was a small child and was eventually drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2004 and played in the NHL through the 2012-13 season. He played in the Kontinental Hockey League following the conclusion of his NHL career and was part of the Gagarin Cup-winning Metallurg Magnitigorsk in 2015-16. The following season, he was severely injured, suffering a broken vertabrae in his neck that required surgery him to miss the remainder of the season.
Fortunately, he recovered and was named to the Canadian Olympic Team for 2016. In 27 games played with the Capitals, Wolski recorded nine points (four goals, five assists) in 2012-13.
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