Home Archive Photos Slideshows Database Calendar


2014 Skate Canada: Duhamel & Radford win their first Grand Prix gold at Skate Canada

by Tatjana Flade





The pair skaters presented themselves in good shape at the second Grand Prix of the season Skate Canada in Kewlona, British Columbia. Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford not only skated really well, but finally earned that elusive Grand Prix title. Wenjing Sui & Cong Han of China claimed the silver medal and the bronze went to newcomers Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov of Russia.

Duhamel & Radford have won two world bronze medals, but so far never had topped the podium at a Grand Prix event. They were the highest ranked team in Kewlona, but experience from the past taught them that anything can happen. A year ago, Duhamel & Radford were expected to win Skate Canada and led after the short program, but then missed a lift and lost points on levels in the free to drop to third.

This time things went better for the team from Montreal. They started with a strong short program to the French song “Un peu plus haut” into the competition. “A little higher” is always what Duhamel & Radford are aiming at, especially technically this team is known for pushing the limits. Right now they are the only pair in the world to include the triple Lutz as a solo jump in short and free program. Duhamel came very close to the boards when landing the Lutz, but managed to avoid a crash. All other elements including the throw triple Lutz and triple twist were solid and the couple earned a seasons best score of 72.70. “I did almost hit the boards. I was really focused on taking my time when I went into the jump, to make sure I was calm and everything was placed well. Maybe I waited a little bit too long before I put my toe-pick in. The ice felt a little bit smaller than normal on our first practice, but I am not sure if it is or not”, Duhamel explained.

Both were very pleased with their short. “Differently than in the past season we’ve started the season this way where we want to be versus the last couple of years we’ve always had a little bit of a rough short program here at this event”, Radford said. “Our goal today was to get off the ice and be happy, regardless of what score we’re going to get or what place we’re going to come. It felt great to skate with freedom and really skate from our heart and really let ourselves go, the way we do in practice. In the past we’ve always struggled a bit to bring that to competition and it felt really amazing to do that today”, Duhamel added.

In their free skating to music by the British rock group “Muse”, the Canadians turned in another strong performance that assured them of the victory. They went for the quad throw Salchow, an element that they added to their repertoire this season. Duhamel stepped out of the landing, but the jump was rotated. The other glitch came when she touched down with her hand on the throw triple Lutz. The program included also a triple twist, side by side triple Lutz, triple toe-double toe-double toe and all lifts and spins merited a level four. For this, the 2013 Four Continents Champions score a new personal best with 138.04 points and totalled 210.74 points.

“It feels exciting and we are extremely happy to finally have this first title on a Grand Prix. There was a lot of hype about that throw quad (Salchow) and for us to stand up on it with all the attention that has been given to it is a good stepping stone heading into the rest of the season. We had great scores here, but we have room for improvement. There were a couple of elements that were tight in both the short and the long. It is exciting for us that there is still room to grow and that we hadn’t peaked yet in October”, Radford commented. His partner agreed: “We are proud of how we handled and performed both our programs here. Every year we go into the Grand Prix series and it is always our goal to win a gold medal and it has taken us a lot of years and it feels really great to finally have this achievement after so long”, she noted.

Sui & Han especially shone in the short program to “Stray Cats Strut” that was clean with side by side triple toes, a big triple twist and throw triple flip. The three-time World Junior Champions pocketed 65.22 points. For the long program, the young Chinese team chose a new style for themselves with Peter Tchaikovski’s dramatic “Francesca da Rimini”. They impressed with their huge throws again, including a quadruple twist, but Sui struggled with the solo jumps. She singled the toe and doubled the Salchow. The 2014 Four Continents Champions picked up 119.42 points and had 184.64 overall.

“We did not show our very best today, there were some errors in some elements. Hopefully we’ll skate better in our next competition”, Sui said. While the short program is an excellent choice for the Chinese team, the long program music seems a bit heavy for them. Both programs were choreographed by David Wilson who worked for the first time with Sui and Han.

Tarasova & Morozov are new on the senior circuit, but they left a strong impression. They train in Nina Mozer’s school alongside Olympic Champions Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov and like them, they have a huge triple twist that Stanislav Morozov taught them. This season, however, the Russians switched coaches within their group and are now mainly working with Andrei Hekalo plus, since recently, with Germany’s five-time World Pairs Champion Robin Szolkowy who joined Mozer’s team as a part-time coach. Trankov, by the way, choreographed their programs and helped to choose the music.

Tarasova & Morozov skated a clean short to „Sarabande Suite” by Globus that was highlighted by their level-four triple twist, side by side triple toes and a throw triple loop. The World Junior silver medalists earned 64.14 points. In the long to „Hello“ by Lionel Ritchie, the triple twist, side by side triple Salchow and level-four lifts and spins were fine, but she doubled the toeloop and stumbled on both throw jumps. This program was worth 111.31 points and with a total score of 175.45, Tarasova & Morozov took the bronze in their ISU Grand Prix debut.

It was the icing on the cake for Morozov, who turned 22 the day of the free skating. “We really enjoyed skating today. There were some mistakes, but we are very pleased with the result. This was our first major senior international competition. The competition was at a very high level”, Morozov said. He had competed for the first time on his birthday. “Thanks to the time difference, I even was able to skate both programs on my birthday”, he noted. “When we skated the short, it was already November 1 in Moscow and then we skated the long on November 1 here in Canada.”

Madeline Aaron & Max Settlage (USA), who also debut on the senior Grand Prix this season, followed up on their solid performances from Skate America the week before to finish fourth with 165.91 points. The younger sister of single skater Max Aaron and her partner turned in a clean short to “Coppelia”. In their long program to “The King and I” – a nicely choreographed program with entertaining details – Settlage missed the triple Salchow, but they completed a triple twist as well as throw triple loop and Salchow.

Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres of France certainly had hoped for more than fifth place (161.79 points). The team had switched coaches and moved to Moscow this summer to work with Stanislav Morozov, but he cannot work wonders and needs time to correct their deficits. Some elements are already improved, though. But in the Tango short program their side by side spin had no level and in the long (“Angels and Demons” from the past season) James reduced their combo to triple-single toe and touched down on the triple Salchow.

Overall the level of the pairs event was very high and there were very few falls, one in the short program (by Aaron van Cleave from Germany) and one in the free skating (by Settlage).

“I think honestly, right from the get go, when somebody opens up the competition with a clean skate and gets the energy of the crowd, right away it kind of drizzles on to the rest of the skaters and it’s like a natural adrenaline that starts going right from the beginning of the competition from the first skater and it continued right through to end. I think that’s what the crowd wants. We gave them a good show all eight pair teams”, Duhamel said after the short program.

“It felt very comfortable to skate and there is a very good atmosphere and all the pair teams in the competition pushed each other to a higher level”, Han pointed out. “The competition was at a high level, because it is a Grand Prix event and at a Grand Prix alone the level is high. Everybody tried to give the maximum and to present themselves the best way”, agreed Morozov.