Duhamel and Radford lead pairs in Moncton

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (QC) perform their Short Program at the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

At the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, the senior pairs short program ended in a virtual three-way tie, setting things up nicely for an exciting final flight on Saturday evening.

Despite completely missing credit for their lift, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (QC) are at the top of the leader board with a score of 60.92. Duhamel caught a toe pick on their lift entrance which disrupted their timing. After two attempts, Radford was able to hoist her up and the lift was completed quite well considering that he almost had to bench press her above his head. However, the first lift attempt was counted as their lift, and was scored without a level and a base value.

“It’s a little disappointing for us,” Radford said, “because even with that little mistake, we were still hoping that we would get that lift. We would have had a nice cushion heading into the long program.”

Having established themselves as the top Canadian pair on the Grand Prix circuit this fall, Duhamel and Radford, both 26, entered this event with the goal of winning the title. They are still on track to do that if they skate well in the free program, but they would have preferred to be further ahead at this stage to relieve some of the pressure on Saturday night.

Aside from the lift mishap, Duhamel and Radford’s Concierto de Aranjuez program was very strong. Their triple twist earned a level three and received +2 Grades of Execution (GOE) from every judge, garnering 7.20 points. The side-by-side triple Salchows were landed smoothly, as was the throw triple flip that closes their program. The team also earned level four for their death spiral, pairs spin, and step sequence.

“We went out, lights out,” Duhamel said. “That was the best twist, the best jump, and the best death spiral we’ve ever done.”

Jessica Dubé and Sébastien Wolfe (QC) finished a close second with a score of 60.65. They earned strong marks from the judges for their side-by-side triple Salchows and their throw triple Lutz. Among the strongest elements in their short program was their level four pair spin, which received +2 GOE from most of the judges and carried good speed throughout the changes.

The difference between Dubé (24) and Wolfe (21) and the other teams in the top two, who were able to maintain their high rankings even with mistakes, was the ease and flow in the program. The team, which paired up last April, are still getting used to skating with each other. While they delivered a strong program, the newness of their partnership is still apparent.

Reigning champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch (WO) scored 60.26 points to end the event in a very close third. The situation is a familiar one for the team this season.

“That is a trend for us this year,” Moore-Towers said. “At Skate America we had a virtual four-way tie after the short; Cup of China, we had a virtual three-way tie after the short; and here, it’s another three-way tie, so you know what, it’s anybody’s game tomorrow, and we’re ready to skate.”

A fall on the throw triple loop cost them the lead in the short program and disrupted the flow of an otherwise excellent program to Borsalino. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch took a dance-like approach to their short program choreography, and the details were apparent in their side-by-side triple toe loops and polished pair elements.

Moore-Towers (19) and Moscovitch (27) have been criticized in the past for having an unrefined quality to their skating, and it is clear that this is something that they have addressed this year in an attempt to move to the next level.

Despite a fall on the side-by-side triple toe loops, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers (SK) turned in one of the most entertaining programs of the event. Their Beetlejuice program was full of choreographic nuances and it felt more like a performance than a competitive outing. Their lift dismount, where Lawrence flips upside down and twists before Swiegers catches her, elicited a gasp from the crowd, and the throw triple Lutz to end the program was so big that it netted +1.28 in GOEs.

Although Lawrence (21) and Swiegers (24) are not part of the 60-point club that occupies the first three places, they have 58.55 points and are still contenders for the national title.

Brittany Jones and Kurtis Gaskell (WO), the 2009 Canadian junior pairs champions, laid down a strong short program to Nocturne and Bohemian Rhapsody. Jones, who also competed in junior ladies this week, landed her best double Axel of the week so far in their short program. With the side-by-side element behind them, they seemed to grow more confident and went on to complete a solid throw triple loop.

With 53.16 points so far, Jones (16) and Gaskell (21) will likely need a clean free skate, and perhaps some help from the top competitors, in order to break into the medals.

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ankara escort