Athletes Brace for Big Balls on 'Wipeout Canada'
October 5, 2010

Tessa Bonhomme is bent on beating the big balls.

The defender on the Canadian women's hockey team is one of several athletes selected to participate in an all-athletes episode of "Wipeout Canada."

Those familiar with the American version of the game show know the first obstacle course in each episode includes four large bouncy balls that contestants must jump between to get across.

It was rare anyone navigated them successfully in the recently concluded season. More often than not, contestants bounced wide or fell between them into the water hazard below.

"I am absolutely going to conquer those red balls," the 25-year-old Bonhomme said Monday from Sudbury, Ont. "It makes me so mad when people cannot do the red balls. I look forward to putting on a clinic and showing everyone out there how to do the red balls."

Former CFL kicker Troy Westwood, former NHL player Cam Connor, skeleton racer Michelle Kelly, national luge team member Ian Cockerline, cross-country skier Ian Babikov and biathlete Robin Clegg were also chosen for the show.

A total of 260 Canadians were announced Monday as contestants for the first season of Canadian version of the show.

The appeal of "Wipeout" is contestants willingly get punched into the mud and suffer spectacular pratfalls in the pursuit of $50,000 in prize money.

Bonhomme departs Thursday for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where 13 episodes of "Wipeout Canada" will be taped starting Saturday until Nov. 3. It will air in Canada on TVTropolis in the spring.

Westwood, a former kicker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, isn't as optimistic about navigating the big balls as Bonhomme.

"They look impossible to me," he said from Winnipeg. "I think about it every single day, maybe four or five times a day.

"They're already haunting my thoughts. I think from watching it is to be as light on my feet as possible."

Hockey player Cam Connor, who played for the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, will be the oldest competitor on the athletes' episode at 56. He says his 22-year-old daughter Jessica sent his name in for an audition.

"I just may be the oldest competitor, but I played junior football and hockey all my life, so I'm prepared for the bumps and bruises that go with it," Connor said from Edmonton.

Connor dreads getting spun on a turntable before tackling one of the courses in a dizzy state. He would embrace getting catapulted four storeys into the air and landing in the water if he made the final four.

"I'm saying to myself 'Maybe I can pull off a nice dive,"' Connor said.

Connor's audition tape included several of his NHL fights. A mainstay of "Wipeout" is a punching wall that competitors navigate while getting punched in the face and sprayed with paint.

"Through all my career in hockey, through all the scraps and sticks you get in the face and head butts, I never broke my nose or lost my teeth and now I'm kind of chuckling. Wouldn't that be pretty funny if I got drilled on 'Wipeout?" Connor said.

"Wipeout Canada" took applications from June 2 to July 1 this year. Some of the athletes were interviewed by producers in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.

In her interview, Bonhomme poked fun at photos of the Canadian women's post-game celebration after winning the gold in Vancouver. Those photos created a short-lived scandal because the women drank champagne and beer and smoked cigars on the ice after the game

So Bonhomme wore her Canadian team jersey and the same Maple Leaf glasses she wore in those photos. She had a cigar in her mouth and handed out cigars to the producers of the show.

"I'm not afraid to be laughed at and I'm not afraid to laugh at myself," she said.

"I've been knocked around and hit by girls who are more intimidating than that course. Secondly, we train for that course. If you've ever seen any video from our boot camps, I've been through much worse. It's like a big jungle gym. I'm ready to have a lot of fun with it."

Calgary Stampeder running back Jesse Lumsden, also a member of the Canadian bobsled team, auditioned for "Wipeout Canada" before signing with the Stampeders in September.

"Because of football, I wouldn't have been able to do it," Lumsden said. "I'll get on that show eventually."

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)


Morgan Bell
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-669-1261 (mobile)


Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada


Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)


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