French pairs skater Vanessa James will have a different start to the skating season this year. The reigning Grand Prix Final champion — with Morgan Ciprès — will be competing in a different arena in September, when she joins the cast of the popular Canadian reality show “Battle of the Blades.” The show ran for four seasons until 2013 on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) network before it was cancelled due to budget cuts.
James, a Canadian citizen by birth, is thrilled about the opportunity to compete on the show — “especially since it is the first one” — which pairs figure skaters with hockey players. No partnerships have been announced at this time, but James said she is not concerned about who she skates with because Ciprès will be coaching her and her partner.
When Sandra Bezic first asked her if she would be interested in this opportunity, James said she did not remember the format of the show. “My parents knew exactly what it was all about and they said ‘it was such a great show, it would be such a great experience for you.’
“So I talked a little bit with John Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana, the federation and Morgan. We all thought it was a great timeline because it is really just at the beginning of the season — it will clash with something like Skate America but we can ask for Grand Prix events later in the season. Hopefully, we can do NHK and Internationaux de France, but our main focus next season will be Europeans and Worlds.
“The production team said it would have Morgan come so we would be able to train regularly, so it was really just a perfect combination for us to say yes. It will be on smaller ice and the public will be closer and there will be more nerves involved because we will be doing this with someone we don’t know, but there are so many things we can take from this show to put into our skating career. Not just competing, but really performing.
“Morgan was honored that he would be coming in as a coach. I feel like this will bring a different confidence level for myself and for him. I think it is a great dynamic.
“You know I like to have fun and things like that … I said something to Morgan about it all depending on when we get eliminated — it could be anywhere from three to seven weeks — and Morgan was like, ‘if I am your coach you are not going to eliminated. You are going to win.’ I was like ‘OK, that’s my partner.’ He will be a great coach.”
James and Ciprès are headed to South Korea next week to perform in Yuna Kim’s shows and will also join the cast of “Dreams on Ice” in Japan in late June.
They will attend a “Battle of the Blades” camp in July where the CBC production crew along with Bezic will figure out the pairings.
Kurt Browning returns as head judge. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will join him as guest judges on two episodes.