A figure skater from northwestern Ontario says training has become his full-time job, as he prepares to lace up his skates at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Eric Radford is a pairs figure skater from the small community of Balmertown, near Red Lake, Ont. — and this will be his first Olympic Games.
Radford said it's the moment he's been training for, since he began skating, at the age of eight.
"This whole season has been very exciting, getting ready for the Olympics,” he said. “I'm literally living my dream and I've waited so long for it."
Radford and his partner, Meagan Duhamel, who hails from Lively, Ont. are the current world championship bronze medallists.
Radford is living in Montreal as he trains. But he noted there's a huge feeling of support from the community when he goes back. He wasn't able to go home for the holidays this year because of his extensive training schedule.
"The Olympics comes once every four years … we wanted to make sure we put everything we had into this season,” Radford said. “So we aren't doing anything but skating right now."
Radford and Duhamel’s days are filled with on-ice training, off-ice training, and a long list of therapies designed to keep them safe from injury.
Musical tribute to former coach
Radford said his skating career began after he saw figure skating on TV during the 1992 Olympics. He also loved the musical aspect, so he told his parents he wanted to learn.
The skater has been composing music on the piano as long as he's been skating.
During their Olympic performance, there will also be a tribute to another northwestern Ontario athlete. Radford composed the music for their short program as a tribute to former coach, Paul Wirtz, from Marathon, who died in 2006.
"I always kind of say that he was like a third parent to me, because I was living away from home,” Radford said.
“He was an incredibly important person in my life and in my career. Hearing my piece come to life in the studio was something I'll never forget … I can actually compare it to standing on the podium at Worlds this past March in Canada. It was that same exhilarating, electric feeling.”