Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje

Like almost every kid growing up in Southern Ontario during winter you played hockey outside on a pond or your backyard rink,if you didn’t have a backyard rink you didn’t have to go very far to find one in your buddies yard.

It was just a way of life , a passage , you expected and looked forward to it. You would play street vs street,area vs area,older sibling against younger,you get the idea.

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje
Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje

Natalie Spooner was no different than any other kid growing up playing hockey with/against her brothers while honing her skills on the blades. It wasn’t long before she was better than most,better than most of the boy’s !! To give you an idea of pond hockey,you first have to understand there are no refs,no goal judge,no crying,no mercy.

At a very early age you realize how competitive sports is,how competitive you are and exactly what the pecking order is from a skill level point of view.

Spooner quickly rose to elite very early on and never looked back,eventually playing for her country at many levels including the Canadian National Women’s Team.

All this hockey and you know what? She never put a pair of figure skates, not once!

Not until she was asked to go on the CBC Hit Show Battle Of The Blades

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje
Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje

ISN caught up with Spooner and owner Scott Harrigan had a chat with her about the show and some other stuff. I’m going to call this 10 with ISN

10 with ISN

ISN.. So before the show you never put on a pair of figure skates? How that go for you?

Spooner..(laughing) well let me tell ya, it was weird to say the least.The boots are bigger , heavier,blades are longer and don’t even get me started on the Toe Pic .

ISN..  Were you nervous at all about what you got yourself into?

Spooner.. Absolutely,but when i got out there skating around doing some laps and such it really wasn’t that bad or different, until i tried to turn and go backwards (laughing again)

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje
Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje

ISN.. What is the biggest obstacle or challenge for you still after week 3?

Spooner.. For sure trust ! I mean, I’m a very strong independent women who really doesn’t like being lead around and it’s hard for me to allow Andrew (Her Partner Andrew Poje) to take the lead.I’ve danced with guy’s of course and it’s usually the man that leads in dancing but hey, this is a competition and I’m in it to win it so it’s really super hard for me to let someone else run the show.

ISN.. A Little competitive are we?

Spooner.. Ya Think !

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje and Ron Maclean
Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje and Ron Maclean

 ISN.. Well every team has a coach or coaches , isn’t this kind of the same?

 Spooner.. No not really ,it’s not like that. It’s not like you have a system so to speak like a breakout or man coverage or anything like that. This is all choreographed routines that i have to memorize to the music. This is totally sync up to a routine that’s been created by the choreographer .

ISN.. What’s it feel like to get picked up in full stride and spun around and put back down again ?

Spooner.. Ya again that’s weird at first but I’m totally over that and it’s not an issue, although i still wear knee pads in training for the next show because we have to learn new stuff each week.I will say it felt strange not to wear my hockey gear at fist but that went away quickly as well. You can’t keep doing the same old all the time you know, I’m here to win this (laughs again)

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje
Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje

ISN.. How often do you sharpen your skates for this?

Spooner.. Figure skates aren’t like regular hockey skates at all. I’m that player when I’m playing hockey to get my skates sharpened every game and sometimes even during intermissions but my figure skates, maybe once a week,week and a half depending how much we train.

ISN.. So is it the edges that are most important in figure skating?

Spooner.. Oh totally, edges are important in hockey too but when you’re figure skating you can really feel each stride,each push off,each turn way more than in a hockey boot and blade. In hockey it’s more of a choppy stride to get going full out,figure skating is all edge and power from your stride. It’s hard to explain but i know this,I’m a better skater than I was a month ago.

 ISN..  So would you say so far your experience has exceeded your expectations ?

Spooner..  Oh for sure absolutely, It’s been a blast so far and I’m not ready to go home yet . It’s really given me some amazing insight to how difficult figure skating is and the strength and dedication to perform at an elite level. Let’s be honest it’s not like we’re doing triples or quads jumps or anything but to perform and make the flow seem seamless takes a lot of practice and determination. I’ve met some great people who’ll go on to be life long friends and it was nice to have another hockey female Kess here too (Amanda Kessel)

Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje
Natalie Spooner and Andrew Poje

ISN..     Speaking of Amanda Kessel, was there any chirping going on between you two?

Spooner.. (Laughing Again) Naaaa it’s all good, I’ll save it for when it matters. She’s a beauty !!

ISN.. Well thanks Natalie , so are you !!


Be sure to tune into Battle of the Blades airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem