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'Battle of the Blades' returns full throttle from hiatus

Hinzmann, Krushelnyski rev up for next week's elegant routine
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Marcy Hinzmann and Mike Krushelnyski opened 'Battle of the Blades' competition with a rock 'n' roll program. -Battle of the Blades

Exhilarated to see Battle of the Blades back on the air after a one-year hiatus, the figure skaters and NHL veterans of season four got the audience pumped with rock 'n' roll-fueled performances on Sunday night's season premiere.

"We had a bit of a rough week in some of the camera-blocking rehearsals and dress rehearsals where we made some mistakes, but on show night, we rose to the occasion," said Marcy Hinzmann, 31, who is partnering with three-time Stanley Cup winner (plus one as an assistant coach) Mike Krushelnyski, 53.

Krushelnyski admitted to a fall in dress rehearsal but was really glad to pull off their debut as a team.

"These guys, they're such competitors, they're such great athletes," said Hinzmann, who is back for a second Battle of the Blades experience, having competed in season three. "It's a great atmosphere to skate in. They're gamers: They all rise to the occasion and deliver the goods. I knew I could count on that."

A bit older than some of the other hockey guys, Krushelnyski said a conversation with season one participants Stéphane Richer and Ron Duguay and season three contestant Brad May got him inspired to take part in the show. The charity element of the show made it a "no-brainer." Every participant gets money to donate to the charity of his or her choice, which is mentioned on every show. Both Hinzmann and Krushelnyski are representing NHL Alumni: Hockey's Greatest Family.

NHL Alumni is a support system for former players who may be going through a tough time, perhaps dealing with substance abuse or financial issues. It also provides some guidance for recently retired players looking to find a new focus, be it in business or broadcasting. There is also scholarship money for kids as well as clinics for aspiring young hockey players.

"You're considered part of the family," he said. "Whenever you need help, it's just one phone call away."

Krushelnyski said he's still making the adjustment to figure skates and lavishes praise on his partner for helping him develop his moves.

"Every practice routine, she's trying to train me for show night," he said. "Up until Friday, it was work. Then Friday and Saturday were fun, and Sunday was a continuation. Now we've started second week, so it's back to work to try to learn the steps, but it's still fun."

Having some Battle of the Blades experience as well as doing quite a bit of coaching, Hinzmann approached this season with a laser focus on how to bring out the best in her partner. Her tight regimen has brought Krushelnyski along quickly since they started training together Sept. 3.

The duo receives coaching from Paul Martini and Mark Ladwig and choreography from Vitali Novikov.

"It's a great support system here at Battle of the Blades," Hinzmann said. "They have the best of the best here to help these guys and make them as comfortable as possible.

"Week one, everybody was so strong. The skates started with Sinead [Kerr] and Grant [Marshall]. They were the first up. They set the bar so high. Every single team after that delivered. It's tight. It's a strong group of skaters and hockey players."

Next week's theme is "suit and tie."

"They want to show the refined and the polished side of the guys," Hinzmann said. "They want songs from the 50s and a completely different style from week one rock theme."

"I'm really getting yelled at a lot," Krushelnyski joked.

"I really like our week two program," Hinzmann said. "It's a nice chance for Mike and me to interact out there. Hopefully, the audience will love it."

The season's first elimination will take place after Sunday night's show.