The National Women's Hockey League continues its offseason with numerous player signings, its first international draft and several front office moves. In case you've missed anything over the last few weeks, let's take a look at what's happened in the league.
For cutting-edge analysis of the most high-stakes sporting event of the season, we turned to the people who know the competitors best: their teammates. Canadian national team and PWHPA-Toronto forward Loren Gabel joins us to break down Week 2, which featured a Halloween theme. (Yes, Week 2. It's 2020 and time isn't real. Just go with it.)
Before we get into it, what's your level of knowledge and familiarity with figure skating?
To be honest, not a lot. I watched Spooner's season on Battle of the Blades last year and I kind of got a little bit of knowledge from that, but... Other than that, I've watched it a few times at the Olympics and stuff, but yeah, I'm not really familiar with figure skating.
Who are you cheering for the season and why?
Obviously Agosta! I've looked up to her ever since I was a little kid, and I finally got to play with her at the two-game series in Moncton. I still have a signed autographed picture from her when I met her as a kid. She's just such an amazing role model for myself and all these other girls that look up to her as well. And the charity that she's going for is great too.
The Performances: Gabel's Judgment
The Halloween night on Battle of the Blades. From magicians, to witches, to grave diggers, Battle of the Blades participants presented their scary performances with improved confidence during this horror-themed week.
Jessica Campbell & Asher Hill: Asher Hill and Jessica Campbell, a Canadian hockey player, skated to "Every Breath You Take" by Chase Holfelder, dressed as a magician and his apprentice. Another duo who had a stronger routine last week with a more challenging routine. This routine did show both skaters' strong choreography and storytelling with a sixth place finish. I would score them at around a 4.9. (Averaged judges score: 5.5)
Wojtek Wolski & Meagan Duhamel: Meagan Duhamel and Wojtek Wolski skated a strong routine as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. This duo showed strong skating skills, strength and trust during the lifts and tricks during this well choreographed routine. I would have scored their skate as a 5.4. (Averaged judges score: 5.6)
Akim Aliu & Vanessa James: Vanessa James and Akim Aliu had a stunning performance where Aliu the superhero skated to "I’ve Been Quiet For So Long" by Khalid and Marshmello. Akim demonstrated his super hero powers as he skated with great fluidity, strength and confidence in himself throughout the routine. Although the storytelling in this routine was one of the best of the night, I would have given them a score of 5.0. (Averaged judges score: 5.6)
Jennifer Botterill & Eric Radford: Eric Radford and Jennifer Botterill, a former Olympian, skated to "Toxic" by District 78. Last week's performance was a much stronger showing for this pair placing them in fifth. I would've scored their skate as a 5.2. (Averaged judges score: 5.5)
Bryan Bickell & Kaitlyn Weaver: Kaitlyn Weaver and Bryan Bickell appear to be the frontrunners during the first two weeks of competition. They consistently bring their "A" game giving strong performances each night, filled with challenging choreography of storytelling, tricks, lifts and footwork. Doing a trick called "Headbanger" during the second week shows the trust of the partnership. Kaitlyn definitely deserves a 6.0 for having the scariest costume of the night, but I would rank their performance at around a 5.7. (Averaged judges score: 5.7)
Kris Versteeg & Carlotta Edwards: Carlotta Edwards and Kris Versteeg continue to provide a friendly competition to Bryan Bickell by skating a strong program filled with challenging tricks and lifts. This scary performance continues to make them strong competitors. Their score in my opinion would have been 5.1. (Averaged judges score: 5.5)
Anthony Stewart & Violetta Afanasieva: Violetta Afanasieva and her partner, NHL player Anthony Stewart, skated an incredible performance but unfortunately were the first pair to be eliminated from the competition. I would've given them a score around 4.7. (Averaged judges score: 5.4)
Meghan Agosta & Andrew Poje: During the energetic skate-off, Andrew Poje and his partner, Canadian Olympic hockey player Meghan Agosta, skated to "Bury a Friend" by Billie Eilish and were dressed as grave diggers. This energetic performance showed improvement with challenging foot work, spins and lifts, which placed them tied for third. I would have given this performance, as a completely biased decision, a definite 5.8. I thought they showed immense improvement from their previous dance. (Averaged judges score: 5.6)
Q & A
Based on how you know Agosta (and not on her performances so far), what about her do you think is going to make her most likely to succeed at this?
Honestly, I think her energy and willingness to learn new things. From what I've known of her she's a very open person and willing to put herself out there and get out of her comfort zone, and I think that's what's going to help her get far in Battle of the Blades this season.
Who do you think had the best song choice in Week 2?
Honestly, I kind of did like Agosta's song with Andrew [Bury a Friend - Billie Eilish]. I don't know, I feel like it was really Halloween-y and that was the type of thing that they were going for this past episode. I feel like that really portrayed Halloween, for sure.
If you could choose someone's music or choose a weekly theme, what would you want to see people skate to?
I ― honestly, I'm a huge fan of Justin Bieber, so probably one of his songs.
Ignoring all of the technical aspects, which Week 2 routine did you find the most entertaining?
Kaitlyn Weaver and Bryan Bickell. I thought theirs was really entertaining, especially her dressed up as a witch and everything, I thought that was pretty neat. Her nose, it was like, literally a witch look, so it was pretty cool. I feel like theirs was really well done and they performed it to the T.
In your non-expert opinion, which of Week 2's routines did you think was the most impressive skating-wise?
Honestly, I think Kaitlyn Weaver and Bickell, for sure. I feel like he has so much poise and his stride is just so perfect. And she is such an amazing figure skater as well, so I feel like they're a great pair.
After Week 2, who's your frontrunner to win it in the end?
Agosta! Come on. [Spoiler: She's now eliminated.]
If you could choose any teammate, past or present, to be on the show, who would you most want to see on Battle of the Blades?
Oh, that's a hard one. I mean, I would say Spooner, but she's already done that, obviously. Another one... maybe Sarah Nurse? I feel like she'd just be like really good at figure skating. Personally I think she is probably pretty good at feeling the music and everything, from what I've seen in the dressing room. But I feel like she would just fit in perfectly.
Who's the better judge, you or Spooner?
Since Week 2...
- The U.S. election happened;
- Week 3 of BOTB saw Aliu & James and Botterill & Radford ― two pairs who finished top-5 in the judges' rankings ― wind up in the bottom two. They finished the skate-off with tied scores and both were saved from elimination;
- Four Seasons Total Landscaping became a press conference hotspot;
- The U.S. election was called;
- Week 4 of BOTB again saw Versteeg & Edwards escape the skate-off, despite finishing the previous episode tied for last. To make up for Week 3, this one was a double-elimination that sent Agosta & Poje and Botterill & Radford home after they were outperformed by Aliu & James in the skate-off.
And that's what you missed on Glee!
(Photos courtesy of CBC.)
Filed under: battle of the blades; botb season 6; loren gabel; pwhpa; ice hockey; figure skating; reality tv
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