by Tatiana Flade
Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford finished a golden season with the realization of their ultimate dream and became World Champions. The Canadians have added a new quality to their skating, additionally to the difficult technical content they’ve had for years now. Their win was well deserved even though some observers still criticize them for not being as elegant and harmonious as previous top teams such as Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov and Aljona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy.
Duhamel & Radford led already in the short program with about 4.5 points to spare after a perfect performance with a side by side triple Lutz. The Canadians knew that this was their chance and so there were a lot of emotions. Meagan said that she felt “terrified, calm, confident and like I was going to vomit all at the same time. Seriously, I went through waves where I was so calm and I was like, this is easy and then I go through a wave where I was like, oh my God, I can’t do this. But when the music starts, it always brings us back together and I felt okay, now I’m good. It’s comforting when you hear your music on the ice.” Radford also admitted that they were really nervous. “The crowd was kind of still alive when we took our starting position and even when the music started they were still kind of going. So it was a little bit distracting, but I thought that we brought it together and this is how we’ve been training our short program at home and that’s our goal – just to do our program like at home.” The Canadians were last and unfortunately a lot of spectators left as the couple before them, Qing Pang & Jian Tong, had skated.
Duhamel & Radford had a cushion from the short and knew that a solid free would be enough for them to win the title. Skating to a Muse Medley, the 2015 Four Continents Champions landed a triple twist, side by side triple Lutz, throw triple Lutz and triple toe-double toe-double toe combination. There were only two glitches: Duhamel touched down with her hands on the throw quadruple Salchow while Radford wobbled on the side by side spin. “We always dreamed big and some dreams are so big that you probably never imagine them actually happening. And now it’s actually happening to us and it is hard to tell if this is a dream of reality”, Radford said right after their performance. “When we finished last season we were both feeling we had achieved all of our biggest, wildest dreams. That was it, it was over, we’ve achieved everything we’ve ever dreamed of. Now we are one up and it is actually unbelievable. We are very proud of ourselves, not just for this skate but for the entire of the season”, added Duhamel, who is going to get married to their coach Bruno Marcotte this summer.
In the press conference she revealed that they are planning a new technical element for next season, but wouldn’t yet say what – if they want to do another quad or another side by side jump or whatever else.
Wenjing Sui & Cong Han are still a young team but had to overcome already some adversity such as her being injured most of the 2012 & 13 season and missing out on the Olympic team last year. This year the three-time World Junior Champions have improved their consistency and were rewarded with the silver medal at Worlds, their first. They shone in the short with their crisp and fun “Stray Cats Strut” and the quality of their throws is among the best. The free skating also went very well and was highlighted by a quad twist. At the end, there were tears of relief and happiness.
“We felt a lot of pressure in this competition and we skated last and I was afraid that we can’t deal with it but we did. The last time we competed in Shanghai we performed poorly, the audience was too enthusiastic but in the end we overcame the pressure and it was a fantastic experience”, Sui commented. “Today we skated last and the atmosphere was very fierce, all the audience cheered for us and we did feel the pressure. But this time what we gain is more than we can describe. We became stronger. This silver medal didn’t come easy to us. We cried right after our scores came up and I’m still speechless right now”, Han shared.
Qing Pang & Jian Tong had come out of retirement to compete one
last time at the World Championship on home ice and they did neither
disappoint themselves nor their fans. Following the Four Continents
Championships, the couple had put together a new short program to
the romantic song “Moonflower” by Secret Garden, because they felt
it suited them better than the Tango Oblivion they had used before.
The short was clean with a triple toe, triple twist and throw triple
loop and the veterans stood in second place. „We are so happy with
our performance. It is a new short program after the Four Continents
and we worried about skating on home ice a little bit. We are glad
that we nailed everything today and hope to keep it together
tomorrow”, Tong said.
Pang & Tong plan on staying involved in skating. They want to skate in shows for a while and she is considering a coaching career while he would like to work more on the organizational side in a club or the federation.
Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang completed a very successful pairs event for the host country by placing fourth. The short program was clean and in the long they produced a quadruple twist and a triple toe-double toe combination but she stumbled out of the double Axel. “The mistake didn’t affect me a lot, because I tried my best to do it, so I didn’t have to think too much more about it. We can say that we made a breakthrough. I did have pressure to compete in my own country”, Peng admitted. “I’m satisfied with the performance, and the audience encouraged us a lot. When we practiced this morning we thought about what to do if we make mistakes during the program. So we were well prepared. This season we did have really good results. We are really happy because we got more than 200 points”, her partner added.
Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov were fourth in the short program in spite of a strong performance. The European Champions then couldn’t hold it together in the free skating and finished fifth. He doubled the second toeloop in their triple-triple sequence and she almost fell on the throw quad Salchow and in the end crashed on the throw triple loop. “It seems like we were not really together today. I didn’t expect to compete at Worlds this year, so I’m quite happy we came here and skated in the last group. There was a similar situation two years ago. I’m disappointed. We will go to Japan to compete in the Team Trophy and I’m happy to skate again”, Kavaguti commented. “Apparently I was focused more on fighting for a medal than on delivering a clean performance. It was tough physically, I fought for each element today. Too bad we spoiled the impression of our free program today”, Smirnov explained. He also said that they have not yet made any decision about their future.
Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov of Russia left a strong impression in their debut at Worlds and came sixth with two clean performances. They have strong basics and excellent pairs elements, now it is just about developing as performers and gaining experience. “We are excited about having skated two clean programs at Worlds, which is the most important competition of the year. We did our best to avoid mistakes. On the whole we did very good job. Worlds is an important experience for us and for the next season”, Morozov noted.
Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim confirmed their position as the number one U.S. pairs team with two solid performance and finished seventh. There were some minor issues with the solo jumps, but their quad twist in the free and their throw triple flip especially in the short program were beautiful.
“We performed as if we were tired. There were good parts but we had some technical errors. The quad twist was great. We’re not thrilled about the other errors but we feel we did represent Team USA well”, Knierim said. “We can improve on every aspect of our skating. There are no limits to our potential. We are going to work on our interpretation and skating skills. We need to be more consistent on our elements. We have them, we need to do them”, added Scimeca.
World Junior silver medalists Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau of Canada proved with two clean programs that they are competitive at the senior level and ranked eighth in their debut. “I am happy with what we did out there. It’s our first World Championships on the senior level, so we are very proud. There is a lot of chemistry between us and it means a lot”, Seguin commented.
Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres of France were disappointed in the short program when she doubled the side by side toeloop, but they fought back in the free to pull up from 12th to ninth. “We are very happy, because the season has been difficult and the beginning of this competition as well. Our season was a bit interrupted by injuries, change of program, moving (back to France) and all that. But finally we were able to do a good program”, James said.
Russia’s Kristina Astakhova & Alexei Rogonov had come in as a replacement for Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov who decided to sit out Worlds in order to recover and start preparing early for the next season. They are a new team and still need to gel, but their only major mistake was her fall on the throw triple flip in the short program. They placed 10th.
Another new team, Italians Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek, finished 11th. They lost many points when they aborted a lift in the free skating. “I am sorry (about the missed lift), because we thought to finish all the things from the beginning to the end. Anyway, we still enjoyed the moment. We did try our best. It is beautiful that after seven World Championships to be here with a partner. It’s totally different”, Marchei, who switched to pairs only last summer, observed.
Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier (USA) ranked 12th in their debut and made errors on the solo jumps. “It wasn’t our best at all. For it being our first worlds, it’s all a learning experience. We are grateful to have the experience of our first worlds. Our skate could have been much better”, Denney noted. “Anyone would be disappointed to come in well-trained and not put out the free skate they know they could. It’s been a great season overall but today we didn’t get into the way we normally perform this program. It’s disappointing”, Frazier offered. “This season has been a big step up. We got a medal on the Grand Prix and made the World Team. The step now is to perform better at each competition - cleaner programs, better elements, higher program components”, he continued.
Overall the level in the Pairs event was high, but there were only 19 pairs competing. Narumi Takahashi & Ryuichi Kihara of Japan, who finished 19th in the short program and did not qualify for the free skating announced their split right after Worlds. Both are looking for new partners to continue their career.