Hinzmann-Harris eager for 'Battle of the Blades'

U.S. Olympic and world competitor thrilled to be part of season three

U.S. pairs skater and 2006 Olympian Marcy Hinzmann-Harris joins the cast of <i>Battle of the Blades</i> for season three.
U.S. pairs skater and 2006 Olympian Marcy Hinzmann-Harris joins the cast of Battle of the Blades for season three. (courtesy of CBC)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(08/25/2011) - In January 2011, Marcy Hinzmann-Harris and her husband, Lee Harris, finally unpacked their bags and settled into life at home in Columbus, Ohio. Although they'd owned a home for several years, they'd spent very little time there -- especially in 2010.

After competing at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino and the 2006 world championships with Aaron Parchem, the two decided to end their pairs partnership. Parchem wanted to start coaching and Hinzmann-Harris and Harris, the 2002 U.S. junior pairs champion with Colette Appel, were interested in seeing the world.

The spouses teamed up and off they went. In total, they did five Royal Caribbean contracts skating together aboard cruise ships.

"Our last one finished last October," says Hinzmann-Harris, 29. "We were only home a day and then we flew out to Wolfsburg, Germany, and did the Christmas show there.

"We had done the Christmas show the year before, and it was such a wonderful experience. It's an outdoor show in a German Christmas market. The caliber of skating and the caliber of the show are so amazing."

They knew they'd satiated their desire for long-term contracts and focused on building coaching careers in Columbus. Then Battle of the Blades co-creator Sandra Bezic called.

At the conclusion of season two of the popular Canadian series that pairs figure skaters with hockey players, Bezic had asked for suggestions for future cast members. Violetta Afanasieva, who'd performed alongside Hinzmann-Harris on Explorer of the Seas, recommended her.

Bezic had worked as a commentator for NBC during the 2006 Winter Olympics and remembered Hinzmann-Harris well. She was offered a spot, and having avidly watched the first two seasons online, Hinzmann-Harris gave an enthusiastic yes.

Just like the Russian-born Afanasieva, Hinzmann-Harris has a Canadian husband, which she plans to work to her advantage.

"I'm hopeful that fans will think that it's a neat little story that Lee and I have," she says.

Her in-laws live outside of Windsor, Ontario, and will try to be present at some of the shows.

"They'll definitely be getting the word out," she says. "Lee is from a really small town (Harrow, population 3,800). I know they're Battle of the Blades fans, and I hope they'll support me and whoever I'm skating with."

At the time of this interview, Hinzmann-Harris did not yet know who her partner would be. The contestants all earn money for charity, but she is holding on picking hers until she starts training with her partner. If he has a Canadian charity he's passionate about, she's prepared to give her support.

She got to meet four of the former NHL players as well as the show's first female hockey player, Tessa Bonhomme, at a boot camp last month. Although Hinzmann-Harris knew she wouldn't be partnering Bonhomme -- that will be David Pelletier -- they did have an instant bond. Bonhomme played college hockey at Ohio State, so Columbus has a permanent place in her heart.

"Boot camp was so much fun, and it was such a good experience," Hinzmann-Harris says. "I really enjoyed getting a chance to skate with several different players and getting to see the differences in them was kind of neat.

"They are so serious," she continues. "That's what I love about the show is being that they are all such amazing athletes, they know what it takes to reach a level of greatness. They're very committed. It's a lot on the line for them. They don't want to look bad. They don't want to look like they're slacking or doing a bad job, so they take it very seriously and they're very competitive. They want to win."

She says adding a female hockey player creates an interesting new dynamic for the show.

Since not all the male hockey players were at boot camp, Hinzmann-Harris knew that she might not be partnered with any of the guys there. So she had no expectations, but rather just enjoyed skating with each of the four men and seeing what each could bring to the show.

"Each of the guys had, I'd say, a different strength," she notes. "Some of them had a really good grasp on the lifting technique off the ice.

"One guy in particular was really good at picking up choreography. We had a little choreography session on the ice on day two. For hockey players this is a totally different genre of skating -- to skate to music, to count with a partner and to perform for an audience. There was one guy who was really good at that. He wasn't afraid."

Harris, 29, accompanied her to boot camp and served as one of the coaches. In addition to figure skating, he played competitive hockey until he was 18, so the hockey players found his insight extremely valuable. He also teaches power skating classes and works with hockey players on edge work.

"For the boot camp, when the players were transitioning from hockey skates to figure skates, they thought Lee would be really useful with helping them with balance," Hinzmann-Harris says. "The guys were so welcoming of him. They were listening intently to the things he was telling them. Very anxious to learn from him."

Harris will hold down the home front in Columbus while Hinzmann-Harris is in Canada, but she hopes he'll come up to do some work with the competitors.

Right now, she's packing her bags to take off on a new adventure.

"It's a big honor to be a part of this show," she says. "I'm looking forward to the challenge, seeing how far I can push myself, how far I can push my partner and how good we can get."

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