To The Worlds Delivers on Laughter, Intensity, and Tissue

If you want to spark some motivation, watching  To The Worlds on CBC Docs POV is your first step.

To The Worlds follows six women from the Winfield Skating Club near Kelowna, BC as they prepare for the prestigious ISU Adult World Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany. Actually, there were seven skaters …

These woman, ages 46 to 77, are driven to succeed in sport and life, which will resonate with many. It’s about divorce, pleasing parents, loss of a spouse, and overcoming obstacles.
For example, Henrietta Penney – age 77 – overcame challenges and received a Masters at the age of 52. She’s a pure character on – and off – the ice.

Or Donna Bergvinson and her cute “Brag Book” with a photo of one of her idols. Then, she’s crying, talking about her reasons for skating.

It’s that mix of emotion and humour that makes To The Worlds relatable.

A favourite scene is Wendy Ord and Bergvinson standing at the boards watching Isabella Ciociou do a powerful, fast, spell-binding sit-spin. You’d think Ord and Bergvinson were watching a Boston Pizza commercial as they salivate over the spin.

Another scene reveals more of their personalities, when some of the skaters were searching for costumes. They found value in the most unlikely places.

However, this documentary is an icy roller coaster ride, so don’t expect sparkles throughout.

These woman had six months to prepare for Oberstdorf. As the worlds approach, the toe picks come out. Personalities changes. The skaters are more determined. More intense. Except for the seemingly, calm 46-year-old Karen Smith, who can land her double Salchow.

Then, one skater’s family life implodes three days before she leaves for Oberstdorf. Does she stay, does she go? But she realizes, no risk, no reward.

The cinematography is stunning, shot against the mountainous backdrop of Winfield, BC and Oberstdorf, Germany. However, there’s only shot of Kelowna – and it’s very short. Not to sound like Lori Laroche from Blades of Courage, but “Just a few beats longer … that’s all I need is just a few beats.”
The scenes of Oberstdorf make up for Kelowna. Gondolas, wide shots of the exterior of the hotel, inside and outside the arena. The rolling grass hills against the mountains. It’s The Sound of Music, Oberstdorf-style.

The camera work by Chelsey McEvoy, James Tocher, and Ryan Tebutt didn’t miss a beat of To The Worlds. Camera angles reflected upsetting and uplifting moments. At Oberstdorf, they caught awkward angles, expressions, close up reactions – a difficult feat with nearly 600 competitors, plus coaches, family, etc.

Lighting also plays a role during several scenes to enhance the mood, such as when a skater returns after an accident. It’s well thought out.

The writing by Ord and Helen Slinger are commendable. The narration of the documentary are true to each scene. Happy story, happy scene. Sad story, sad scene. Dramatic story, dramatic scene.

The power of a visual is shown when one skater speaks off camera about the loneliness of the sport while she’s seen on-ice without anyone in the stands. In another scene, plexieglass acts as a jail-like setting when Wendy is defied by another skater.

In Oberstdorf, there’s an emotional moment when Maureen Barnes skates. Recently widowed, Barnes speaks as she’s seen performing her artistic free skate. All of the adult Winfield skaters are cheering her on from the kiss and cry, and Barnes says something about her late husband that’s so profound, Kleenex probably saw an increase January 18th, when this documentary was released.

While the skaters couldn’t play their actual program music, Timothy McCauley provided a delightful score of original music for this documentary. Bergvinson’s free skate music, “I Believe” by Nikki Yanofsky, was replaced with an upbeat theme. Each skaters’ program tone was reflected in the score.
To The Worlds is about coming to terms with life and aging. That some times things are out of your control, and you have to come to terms with that.

We need to understand age doesn’t define what you can and cannot do. Time is passing everyone, but you don’t have to let time pass without filling in those moments.

And To The Worlds teaches us to make each moment count.

[Stream To The Worlds on CBC Docs. Or download app from Google Play or iTunes.]

Wendy Ord

Wendy Ord
Helen Slinger

Story Editor
Helen Slinger

Maureen Palmer
Helen Slinger
Wendy Ord

Glen Samuel

Director of Photography
Glen Samuel

Original Music
Timothy McCauley

Line Producer
Alison Hill

Camera Operators
Chelsea McEvoy
James Tocher
Ryan Tebbutt

Sound Recordist
Mike Pedersen

Additional Editing
Allan Pinvidic

Additional Direction
Chelsea McEvoy

Digital Information Technologist
Jamie Cottington

Production Assistant
Karen Smith

Post-Production Supervisor
Alison Hill

Chris Macdonald

Online Editor and Finishing
Allan Pinvidic

Re-recording Mixer and Sound Design
Ewan Deane

Title Design and Animation
Erwin Chiong

Stills Photography
Harvey Bremmer
Jamie Cottington

Maureen Palmer
Zoe Grams

Business Affairs
Trevor Hodgson

Production Accountant
Sherrill Sirrs

Legal Counsel
Daniel Burnett

Stock and Archival Material
Ted Barton
Deutsche Eislauf-Union
Mountain Lake Films
Taylor Gross
Steve Muff
International Skating Union
Skate Canada BC/YK Section

Special Thanks
Dave Drake
Diana Barkley
Winfield Arena
Don and Arlene Ord

For The CBC
General Manager, Programming
Sally Catto

Executive Director, Unscripted Content
Jennifer Dettman

Senior Director, Documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

Senior Director of Production
Alexandra Lane

Executive In Charge of Production
Charlotte Engel

Produced with the participation of:
Canada Media Fund
Rogers Documentary Fund

Produced with the participation of:
Province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC
Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit
Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM)
ISAN: 0000-0005-1088-0000-E-0000-0000-W

Produced in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
© Bountiful Films 2019