Canada's Duhamel, Radford earn pairs bronze

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford have only been a pairs skating team since the spring of 2010, but they've already taken great strides together, finishing third at the Skate Canada International on Saturday.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, of Canada, perform their free program to win the bronze medal in the pairs competition during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition on Saturday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford have only been a pairs skating team since the spring of 2010, but they've already taken great strides together.

Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Toronto's Radford won Canadian silver last winter, were an impressive seventh at the world championships and they earned their first Grand Prix medals by finishing third at the Skate Canada International on Saturday.

Duhamel was a chatterbox, filling Radford's ears with an instant critique, moments after the music by Coldplay drew their free-skating program to a close.

"I was like, 'Oh, that was good but this could have been better, but that was good, but that could have been better, but that was good. Did that look good?"' she said. "I have a lot to say when I analyse our performances."

World silver medallists Tatiana Volosozhar, 24, and Maxim Trankov, 27, of Russia were first in both the short program and the free to score 201.38 and take home gold and the $18,000 first prize.

Sui Wenjing, 15, and Han Cong, 18, of China rallied from fourth in the short to second in the free for 180.82 points to snag silver and $13,000.

Duhamel and Radford, both 25, were second in the short and third in the long for bronze and $9,000.

"We're really excited about winning our first Grand Prix medal," said Duhamel. "Our [technical] component score was a personal best. We've been working so hard on that so we're happy to see that's paid off."

As usual, Duhamel was doing most of the talking. Radford didn't mind because he was trying to stop mentally beating himself up for his error on a lift that resulted in Duhamel's weight shifting and causing her to slam against his back before getting her feet back on the ice.

"For a pairs boy to miss a lift is kind of the most shameful thing that can happen," he said. "It was only a small technical issue but when it happens at that point in the program . . . I'm a little frustrated about that. It doesn't normally happen."

But nobody got hurt.

"Rule No. 1 for a pairs boy is to save the girl," said Radford.

"We just looked at each other when that happened and kept going," said Duhamel. "We had another difficult lift at the end of the program so we couldn't let that affect us."

They're bound for Paris for their second GP date in two weeks.  

"We're definitely going to make sure that what happened today doesn't happen again," said Duhamel.

Trankov was critical of himself even with a gold medal on a ribbon around his neck. He'd over-rotated on a triple Salchow landing.

"We were not so perfect," said Trankov. "I did a stupid mistake on the triple Sal and some lifts were not so good. But we're happy to have good scores. It's a good start to the season for us."

Attendance for the pairs competition was 3,100 in the Hershey Centre, which was configured to accommodate 4,200 for the event.

"The crowd was really great," said Duhamel. "There was a lot of energy in the building. It was nice to have that support here at home in front of Canadian fans."

Jessica Dube of Drummondville, Que., and Sebastien Wolfe of Montreal finished sixth. Dube fell on her triple flip jump on her 24th birthday. She won world silver in 2008 with Bryce Davison and chances of her returning to those lofty heights appear remote.

Paige Lawrence, 20, of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers, 23, of Virden, Man., were last among eight pairs with a 153.96 total.

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