Battle of the Blades: No more second chances (spoiler alert)
The good news is that Brad May and Anabelle Langlois used the extra week they gained from last week's judges' save to improve Brad's skating on Battle of the Blades.
The bad news is that it wasn't enough to save them in the end.
Brad and Anabelle were iced, as the saying goes, in Monday's skateoff by unanimous judges' vote.
You could argue it was embarrassing for the judges to oust the pair just one week after saving them from elimination, but what choice did they have?
Brad and Anabelle were up against not just one but two strong pairs on Monday.
The difference between the fourth and fifth place teams was so small, just 3/100ths of 1 per cent, that the show's auditors recommended a triple skateoff and the producers agreed.
So Cale Hulse and Violetta Afanasieva also took to the ice, along with Curtis Leschyshyn and Elena Berezhnaya.
Both those pairs had technically demanding skates on Sunday, which they repeated mistake-free on Monday.
Brad and Anabelle's Sunday program had been marred by Brad wobbling twice, first after throwing Anabelle and again after he flipped her around his back.
Their execution was better on Monday, but still wobbly after the throw. So yeah, it was a no-brainer who was going home.
“The first thing I'd like to say is thank you for this opportunity,” Brad, a former Vancouver Canuck and Toronto Maple Leaf, told host Ron MacLean. “Anabelle and I have had an unbelievable experience ... I've met some wonderful people, obviously, along this journey.”
He apologized to Anabelle for the mistake, saying, “I feel bad because we've done that throw 50 times and I've slipped three of them.”
Anabelle said she was grateful for having “the opportunity to skate with Brad. He's a great guy ... I'm gonna miss you now,” she told him.
At least the pair are leaving with $25,000 for their charity, Autism Speaks.
With five teams left vying for the grand prize $100,000 charitable donation, only two have never been in the Monday skateoff: Bryan Berard and Marie-France Dubreuil, and Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier.
If I was into betting, I'd probably put money on these teams for last two standing.
They appear not only to be fan favourites, but their skating skills are keeping pace with their popularity.
Bryan and Marie-France did a program Sunday that was not only a crowd pleaser, bringing a standing O at the MasterCard Centre (and no, I wasn't there, I was out of town until Tuesday afternoon, which is why you're reading this recap so late), but earned the season's first 5.9s and topped the score board with a total of 17.5 points.
They took their viewers' choice song, “Can't Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis Presley, and turned it into a romantic tribute to their parents: Bryan's had danced to the song at their wedding, while Elvis was the favourite musician of Marie-France's father.
It was the most skating Bryan has done between tricks and the choreography was flowing and lovely. The lifts went well, too.
As for Tessa and David, they're also coming along. Tessa's looking more graceful every week. Plus, they stepped up their tricks as well, with David tossing and spinning Tessa above his head; and then spiralling with her as she balanced against his back with her legs extended.
The spoilers could be Tanith Belbin and Boyd Devereaux, who continue to take chances with their routines.
On Sunday, they amped up their footwork to Michael Buble's version of “Fever,” with side steps and small jumps, and they continued to show skill with lifts and flips.
If it hadn't been for Marie-France and Bryan, they would have taken top spot score-wise.
Since I'm already a couple of days behind, I'm not going to do a full recap of Sunday's show, but here's how I would have ranked the pairs, with their scores in brackets.
1. Bryan Berard and Marie-France Dubreuil (17.5)
2. Boyd Devereaux and Tanith Belbin (17.3)
3. Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier, skated to “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson (17.1)
4. Cale Hulse and Violetta Afanasieva, skated to KT Tunstall's “Suddenly I See” (16.8): It's too bad that points were docked because of a tough lift gone bad at the end of the program, where Cale put Violetta behind his neck and then tried to lift her straight up with her legs spread. They nailed the lift in Monday's skateoff. It's also too bad Cale and Violetta keep finding themselve at the bottom on Monday nights despite Cale's strong skating. This Monday's skateoff was their third.
5. Curtis Leschyshyn and Elena Berezhnaya, skated to Pitbull's “Give Me Everything” (17.2): Curtis still looks a little stiff when he skates, but his physical strength really helps with the tricks, including a new lift that had Elena excited, in which she balanced against Curtis's head with one leg in the air and one leg down. It looked very challenging.
6. Brad May and Anabelle Langlois, skated to “Electric” by Shawn Desman (16.8): Full points to Brad for improving his skating so much in just one week (he even moonwalked on the ice) and for challenging himself with the tricks. That throw would have been great if he'd been able to keep his balance afterward.
And full points to guest judge Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, a former NHL enforcer from the Boston area who won the Cup with Montreal, for having the best accent so far of any guest judge.
That's it until next Sunday, when I plan to be at the show in person and hope to bring you video along with my recap.
(That's Brad and Anabelle below in an Insight Productions photo.)