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Navarro goes on with 'Battle of the Blades'

Untimely death of skating partner Belak does not mean end of show for ice dancer

Kim Navarro is getting a crash course in television production on <i> Battle of the Blades</i>.
Kim Navarro is getting a crash course in television production on Battle of the Blades. (courtesy of CBC)

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By Kim Navarro, special to icenetwork.com
(09/19/2011) - This is the first in a series of blogs Kim Navarro will write for icenetwork.com about her experience as a contestant on Battle of the Blades.

When I was approached to skate on Battle of the Blades, I was beyond thrilled. The show is jam-packed with skating talent, from skaters to judges to coaches and choreographers, and the production value is off the charts.

For me, it is a huge honor to be part of such a show. And it is right up my alley. I love skating. I love performing. And I really love someone else doing my hair and make-up. So, before ever arriving in Toronto, my excitement -- on a scale of one to 10 -- was at an 11.

Then I went through boot camp, met the hockey players, the production team, the drivers, the hair and make-up team, participated in a super fun photo shoot and hung out with ice dancers and pairs skaters I have admired for years. It seemed impossible, but my excitement grew even more.

So, it was just the icing on the cake when I found out last month that I was paired with Wade Belak, the guy on the show with undoubtedly the biggest personality. He was the reason we all laughed our way through boot camp.

What happened next was something unimaginable and something I cannot -- and most likely will never be able to -- wrap my head around.

Wade and I only got to skate together two days before he was found dead. And what I can tell you from the week of boot camp and the two days of training is this: Wade was a hard-working, funny, entertaining, likeable guy with a big heart who loved his family and seemed to love his life.

It was, and still is, such a shock.

In a show that is conceptually a bit unpredictable, this was something no one was prepared for. The show knew it wanted to continue, but if it would be possible to find someone to skate in Wadeʼs place was not known.

And it sounds so trivial, but I was crushed not knowing what would happen, not knowing if this would be the entirety of my Battle of the Blades experience. And I didnʼt know what to do to move forward.

There is a great deal of sadness in this world that we just cannot explain; it makes no sense. And in this nonsensical world, one of my greatest joys is skating, as silly as it is to admit.

This is why I am indebted to Russ Courtnall -- the player who has stepped in to be my partner and skate for Wadeʼs charity -- and his family for making it possible to move forward and skate in the show.

We have only skated together for five days, and there is less than one week before the first live show. But I donʼt care. I am grateful to be on the ice, working on a program, and skating for the charity Wade chose, the Touretteʼs Neurodevelopmental Syndrome Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital.

It feels most right. It feels as right as it can be, in a situation that will never ever truly feel right.