Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/5/2012 (2881 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Whether you're talking professional hockey or ballroom dancing, there's one crucial point to keep in mind — It's always fun until someone gets hurt.
I base that original observation on some serious investigative journalism I did the other night when I dropped in on the big dress rehearsal for Dancing With Celebrities, the upcoming ballroom competition in support of the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities/Easter Seals.
For the second year, I'll be one of the "expert judges" as six local personalities and their dance instructors try to dip, kick, spin and cha-cha-cha their way to glory in Saturday night's sixth-annual ballroom showdown at The Fairmont Winnipeg.
As a crusading journalist, I bravely asked all the dancers and their partners whether they'd sustained any crippling injuries during the four gruelling months they've spent cobbling together their routines.
That's when Yuriy Demchyshyn, who has been teaching HOT 103 FM's Chrissy Troy the demanding steps of the jive, pointed an accusing finger at his lovely partner and blurted: "She hurt me! She broke my toe!"
In her defence, Chrissy calmly rolled her eyes and pointed out: "We were doing a lift about three weeks ago and he came down and was so worried about my positioning that he wasn't watching what he was doing."
While Yuriy frowned forlornly at his feet, Chrissy laughed and said: "I haven't had this much fun in years. It's just pure joy! When I leave dance practice, I'm beaming."
It was a similar story with former NHL star Ted Irvine, who confessed he's been doing his best to survive intense training for the samba with the lovely and fiery Anna Rudman.
"Anna's been very strict!" whispered Ted, who spent 14 years trading elbows with hockey's tough guys. "She yells at me a lot and can't understand why I don't understand one-two, one-two... At one point, she took a hockey stick to my knees."
The big question is, did life in the NHL prepare Ted for battling in a ballroom? "Playing against Philadelphia did because when Dave 'The Hammer' Schultz came after you, you had to dance to get out of the way," he chortled.
TV icon Sylvia Kuzyk, whom legions of local guys (like me) have worshipped since we first saw her pointing at a TV weather map in 1974, has easily mastered the daunting challenges of the flamenco with partner Pedro Aurelio. But she's a little concerned about a potential wardrobe malfunction.
"This is an authentic flamenco dancing skirt from Spain," Sylvia said, pointing at her exotic green ensemble. "It weighs a good 15 pounds. Look at the ruffles. The skirt is a big part of the dance. It's a bit intimidating. I've got my shoes caught a few times. But it's going to be a lot of fun. We're all in the same boat."
In terms of hardcore training, it would be difficult to match the famed focus of philanthropist and community leader Gail Asper, who will be singing and high-stepping a fast-paced Charleston with instructor Brenda Gorlick.
"I've been practising in my driveway since November hoping the woman across the street doesn't think I'm a lunatic," confessed Gail, dressed to the nines in a sparkling vintage Flapper dress.
For her part, Olympic medallist Susan Auch, a fierce competitor in the speedskating oval, has relied on video technology to help her prepare for the controlled elegance of dancing the waltz with partner Horace Luong. "I've watched the movie Shall We Dance a bunch of times," Auch confessed. "I'm totally nervous, but I always did better skating when I was nervous."
One competitor who won't have a problem making a big impact on the floor is Kelly Butler, the charming 6-7, 310-pound former Bomber lineman who is dancing a stirring salsa with the much smaller Galina Kapoustianskaia.
"I'm a work in progress and Galina is amazing," Kelly said. "They'll be looking at her more than me. Football is a lot easier than dancing, but Galina is a lot more patient than some coaches. It's all about getting out of your comfort zone."
I think I can speak for all the judges when I say it will not be easy picking a winner Saturday night.
It's going to be an awesome evening of full-contact ballroom dancing, so, along with a suit, I personally will be wearing a pair of steel-tipped boots and a safety helmet.
Because you can't be too careful.
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.