LONDON, ONT.–It wasn’t the prettiest pairs final ever – only one duo on the medal podium didn’t fall during Friday’s free skate at the world championships. That was the bronze-medal-winning Canadian pair of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Their one goal, every day for the last year, has been a podium finish here, having left worlds last year in fifth place.
“We had a dream,” said Duhamel. “I think for a while we were the only ones that believed in it, but we did it and I think that’s the greatest feeling in the world.” But waiting for the final three pairs to skate – to find out just where they’d finish – was far from the greatest feeling for the Canadians. “We were having a heart attack,” said Duhamel, a 27-year-old from Lively, Ont. “I was watching, Eric went and sat in the bathroom to try and forget about it.” It was a dramatic and, at times, messy finish.
The European champions, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia, secured the gold with an overall score of 225.71, despite Trankov tripping and falling after their throw triple Salchow. Four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany took the sliver. He fell and she doubled their planned triple jumps but their component scores, the equivalent of the artistic impression score under the old judging system, were high enough to give them an overall score of 205.56.
The other Russian pair, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, had a disastrous lift, crashing into the boards with her dangling awkwardly off his back, and dropped down to sixth. Duhamel and Radford didn’t have the best skate of their lives either, nearly colliding in the final element of their three-jump sequence. But the strength of their difficult and well-executed triple Lutz and throw triple Lutz helped enough to give them an overall score of 204.56.
Fellow Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers, 20, of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch, 28, of Toronto were fourth. They were fifth after the short program Wednesday night but rose up a place on the strength of their free skate. They hope their world championship medal will inspire young skaters and help lead a revival in Canadian pairs skating.
It has been a long while since a Canadian pairs team has been on the world podium. Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were the last to do it, winning bronze in 2008.
To find two pairs in the top five means going all the way back to 1986, when Canadians finished third and fifth. The combined results at these world championships were strong enough to secure Canada a third berth for a pairs team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
For Duhamel and Radford, a world championship medal is the perfect way to celebrate their three-year anniversary of skating pairs together. It also puts them into a great headspace for the Sochi Games, said Radford, 28, of Balmertown, Ont. “When we get to the Olympics we know that we’re capable and the world knows we’re capable of winning a medal and we’re not just participating at the Olympics anymore” he said.