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August 28, 2015

'Battle of the Blades' Season 3 Winners: David Pelletier and Tessa Bonhomme Revel in Victory

by Bryan Cairns, posted Nov 15th 2011 5:00PM
Van Halen's 'Jump' blares from the speakers as I enter the Mastercard Centre for the 'Battle of the Blades' season 3 finale. It's actually appropriate considering all the twirls, spins and yes, jumps, the hockey players and figure skaters have showcased during the third season. The catchy tune is also whipping the crowd into a hand-clapping frenzy, and why not?

The finale's three remaining pairs -- Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier, Marie-France Dubreuil and Bryan Berard, and Tanith Belbin and Boyd Devereaux -- put everything out there with two spectacular performances. The first is a brand-new routine while the second has them repeating their favourite routine from earlier in the season.

With a $100,000 grand prize for charity on the line, not to mention bragging rights, the participants bring their A-games. Snazzy dresser Don Cherry joins resident judges Sandra Bezic and Jeremy Roenick and for the only time this year, the panel gives no scores. Instead, the winners are solely determined by Canada's votes.

Finale results and interviews with the pairs after the jump!

Looking around, the excitement, enthusiasm and energy in the air is palpable. Charismatic host and ice-skating icon Kurt Browning is busy engaging the audience with some smooth moves on the ice. It's an entertaining appetizer before the main event starts, where all the competitors reunite for one impressive group performance.

A playful Browning zips around with the results envelope before delivering it to co-host John Brunton. Drum roll, please! Belbin and Devereaux place third. Berard and Dubreuil come in second. That means Bonhomme makes history by becoming the first female hockey player to win 'Battle of the Blades,' and Pelletier adds another trophy to his collection. Perhaps best of all, the duo earn $100,000 for their charity. Bonhomme's contribution goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, while Pelletier chooses the Ronald MacDonald House of Southern Alberta.

Backstage, a pretty-in-pink Bonhomme and stoic Pelletier are beaming as they exclusively speak to AOL TV Canada about winning.

"I had to register it through my head again that Brunton was announcing the champion," says Bonhomme. "Then I was like, 'We did it!' I couldn't believe it's over. Now what are we going to do? Guess I'll be working out more in the gym to get my hockey body back. But I'm happy. David put so much work into this and dedicated so much of his free time to do this with me. If anything, that's what I wanted to do, was do my best for David, so I was happy we were named champions."

When this reporter originally caught up with Bonhomme back in July, toe picks and dismounts were still relatively foreign concepts, yet somehow she managed to transform into a graceful, and savvy figure skater.

"When people were asking me if she had a tougher time than the male hockey players, you really don't know," says Pelletier. "I realized a few weeks ago, now I can honestly say 'Yes,' because every week she had to learn to be a lady figure skater. When you watch figure skating, 90 percent of the people watch the girl. Plus, you're learning new lifts every week. Girls can't really hide behind their partners. I've been hiding behind Jamie [Salé, his wife and figure skating partner] all my life. I let her do her thing and I really only have a supporting role. Tessa's growth from week one to week eight was incredible. She was just amazing."

Of course, you're only as good as your teacher, and as an Olympic and World skating champion himself, Pelletier is a Jedi master on the ice.

"David is very patient, that's for sure," offers Bonhomme. "He's not afraid to laugh at me when I do something ridiculous. For the most part, he's very to the point. He doesn't waste time. David likes to figure out why something isn't working. If it's not working, we'll do it over and over again until it does. David has a great work ethic. He's driven to be the best, which is inspiring. I couldn't have asked for a better partner."

Each episode, Bonhomme and Pelletier razzle-dazzled with astounding aerial tricks, polished skating and chemistry. Plus, they just look like they're having fun. Early on, some speculated Bonhomme could be a frontrunner, so when asked when they considered themselves actual contenders, Pelletier responds humbly.

"Not until we made it to the top three, I guess," he says.

"Everybody was so great," adds Bonhomme. "I feel like it was such a great season with amazing routines. You watch from week one through week eight and all the routines have you on the edge of your seat. Everybody portrayed such good characters, with such great storylines. I can't even believe I'm here now."

One of the most amazing aspects of the pair's performance was all the crazy death-defying feats the two of them pulled off. Often, it was a coin toss whether you wanted to close your eyes or cheer them on.

"I was only scared during spins," admits Bonhomme. "Lifting is OK now. The handstand one was maybe scary at first. The spins for me are very scary. My biggest fear is to lose my lunch while David is spinning me around. I held it together, though."

Still, with a mere .1 or .2 separating the talent, this competition couldn't have been any closer. In the end, it all came down to viewer voting. Hidden under pads, helmets, and jerseys, hockey has a different form of showmanship, so connecting on 'Battle of the Blades,' where you're exposed, proved to be a challenge.

"Coming in here, I didn't want to create a TV character that wasn't me," says Bonhomme. "I knew I was going to have to accept that everybody was going to get to know me. I was OK with that. I'm comfortable with myself. I knew I was going to have to be in a dress at some point. I'm OK at laughing at myself. Both of us had so much fun doing it, so that's what people connected with. Not only that, but we have two great charities that backed us up the whole way. I know I had tons of fans in Sudbury. I read their support all day, every day. It's been a blast seeing them out there. My family has been fantastic."

More relaxed now and obviously a bit relieved, Pelletier contemplates on what he learned from the whole experience.

"It's always weird for me," he concludes. "You want to grow and step outside your comfort zone. I admire Tess and all the hockey players that take on the challenge of being a figure skater. You can do it at home in your own backyard, but to do it in front of a TV audience, and a live audience, that's how you grow as a human being."

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