Golden Skate

Duhamel and Radford defend title at 2013 Canadian Nationals

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford perform their Long Program at the 2013 Canadian National Figure Skating Championships.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford perform their Long Program at the 2013 Canadian National Figure Skating Championships.

It almost seemed like a shame that only one gold medal could be award in the Pairs event at the 2013 Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships. The top three teams provided one of the most memorable nights that Canadian pairs skating has ever seen, and in particular, the top two delivered phenomenal, world-class performances.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (QC) defended their title with less than a point to spare, while Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch (WO) and Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers (SK) placed second and third, respectively.

Although Duhamel and Radford had a nearly impossible challenge to face when they had to take the ice after a standing ovation for Moore-Towers and Moscovitch, who’s total score broke 200 points. Nevertheless, they delivered incredible technical content with excellent precision in order to win their second consecutive Canadian title.

“Oh, we heard everything,” Duhamel said, in reference to the standing ovation that occurred just before they took the ice. “You can’t ignore it as much as you want. We were in our bubble as much as possible, but we can’t help but hear everything.”

“It was indescribable,” Radford added. “As Meagan was saying, hearing those scores…you know, Dylan’s my best friend. It was challenging to be really happy for him, but I am. I’m really happy for him and for us. It was an incredible night of skating.”

Duhamel and Radford, both 27, performed well, however, their biggest strength came from their difficulty. They earned level 4 on every non-jump element, and they also performed the most difficult jump elements in the field, including side-by-side triple Lutzes and a throw triple Lutz.

They scored 137.55 (72.06/65.49) points for the long and 206.63 overall.

“That was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do,” Duhamel said after the skate. “That was the most amazing, exhilarating feeling I have ever had in my life.”

After a rough skate at the Canadian Championships in 2012 that left them off the world team, Moore-Towers (20) and Moscovitch (28) came back with a fire in their bellies to make sure that didn’t happen again.

Beyond the elements, they performed with a dedication to the choreography and the concept that they have not always had in the past, even edging out Duhamel and Radford on program components this time.

They placed second in the long with 136.31 (69.96/66.35) points and overall (204.54).

“I went to bed yesterday knowing,” Moscovitch said. “It was more ‘When am I going to step on the ice today?’ that was stressful. We were more ready than we’ve ever been. We’ve been building all year, progressively getting better.”

“I think every skater craves the feeling that we just had, and that Meagan and Eric and Rudi and Paige had after they just skated,” Moore-Towers said. “You want to be thrilled, you want to feel tears of joy and fist pumps. We maybe haven’t had that in a while, as much as we’ve had it here, and it gives you a purpose and it gives you motivation to work even harder.”

The lucky pair showed no sign of disappointment at finishing second after such a strong skate. The level of talent says so much about the high level of Canadian pairs skating, and both teams have a shot at excellent finishes at the upcoming World Championships in London, Ont.

Lawrence (22) and Swiegers (25) had a wonderful skate of their own, even though they finished over 30 points behind the top two teams (171.13). Their War Horse program in Mississauga was one of their cleanest outings. Only a singled double Axel and a stumble out of the throw triple loop marred an otherwise fantastic performance.

The team has struggled with consistency, and this program, done well under pressure, should be a confidence booster for them. It is too bad that such a strong performance will likely leave them off of the World team this year, but they should get one more chance to pick up international points at the Four Continents Championships.

The talent in Canadian pairs skating was evident through the entire field, which was small but mighty. Fourth-place finishers (158.47) Brittany Jones and Ian Beharry (WO) had quite the phenomenal program of their own, delivering a clean performance in front of a sold-out crowd that took some time to settle into their seats. This first-year team will likely head to the World Junior Championships along with Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro (WO).

Purdy and Marinaro slipped to fifth place (154.29) after some technical problems in their program to music from The Artist. They did not land either of their side-by-side jumps cleanly, though it was great to see them going for senior-level content of triple toe loops and double Axels. Later in the program, Purdy fell on the throw triple loop, but rallied for the throw triple Salchow, the penultimate element.

The brand-new team of Taylor Steele and Simon-Pierre Côté (WO) showed promise in their first free skate together at a major event. Despite some problems, including an aborted lift, they skated with dramatic flair and a strong presence.

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