The first foray into television for former Gillam resident Colin Ratushniak, a four-time Manitoba men’s figure skating champion, is going as well as he could have bargained for, as he and his celebrity partner Laura Hamilton are among the three pairs competing for this season’s title in the United Kingdom reality competition show Dancing on Ice.
“Laura and I are absolutely ecstatic that we have made it into the final for this year’s Dancing On Ice!” Ratushniak wrote in an email after landing among the top three pairs. “It has been a roller coaster of emotions to get this far and we are looking forward to this Sunday.”
Born in Thompson, Ratushniak moved to Gillam with his family at the age of two, which is when he first started ice skating thanks to some inspiration from an aunt who is a figure skating coach living in Lynn Lake. He took up figure skating when he was 12 years old and there were no longer enough hockey players in Gillam to make up a full team.
Just after the New Year, Ratushniak and Hamilton, a children’s TV presenter, were one of 16 pairs of celebrities and figure skating professionals vying for the prize on the ITV reality show, the second-highest rated show in the country behind “X Factor,” which features Britain’s most famous figure skating duo, the 1984 Olympic ice dance champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Now, the only other celebrities who remain are actor and singer Sam Attwater and television personality and model Chloe Madeley.
“We have a lot of work to do, as they have replaced the traditional flying number with yet another twist and the audience will see each finalist create their own ‘showcase production number,’” explains Ratushniak. “We were supplied the music which will be to the classic Madonna song “Express Yourself”. We then had to pitch a complete story board to Torvill and Dean. This included the number of professional skaters we wanted to use, costumes, lighting, ice projections, special effects, hair, makeup and choreography! A daunting task to say the least!”
Each pair will also re-perform their favourite routine from the season. Hamilton and Ratushniak have chosen their “I’m so excited” routine , which received the highest marks of any performance on the show this season, with scores of 9.5 and 10 across the board.
“After these two numbers are performed the phone lines will open and people will vote on their favourite couple,” says Ratushniak. “The top two will then go on to perform the iconic Bolero routine completely choreographed by us, in hopes that it does Torvill and Dean justice. I can’t even begin to express how amazing it would be to perform the Bolero in front of 10 million people and in front of Torvill and Dean who are legends in the skating world!”
Ratushniak’s moves on the ice took him out of Northern Manitoba in 1998, when his family moved to Brandon, where he continued training and began his competitive career, reigning as the men’s provincial figure skating champion from 1998 to 2002 and capturing a bronze medal at the junior national competition in 2000.
Following high school graduation, Ratushniak made ice skating his job, joining Disney on Ice and touring to more than 300 cities in 30 countries on five continents.
The Dancing on Ice finale will air this Sunday in the United Kingdom.