Canada's Duhamel, Radford 3rd after pairs short program
Canadian duo in good shape for Olympic medal heading into free skate
By Paul McGaughey, CBC Sports
Riding the high of helping Canada to gold in the figure skating team event, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford kept their emotions in check to earn the third-best score in the pairs short program at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Wednesday.
The two-time world champions, who are expected to retire after the Olympics, scored 76.82 points for their skate to April Meservy's cover of U2's hit song "With or Without You."
The reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China scored 82.39 to take the lead, while Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, representing Olympic Athletes from Russia, were the last team to perform and scored 81.68 to finish the day in second place.
VIDEO | Duhamel, Radford in 3rd place after pairs short program
Duhamel and Radford were virtually clean except for being slightly out of synch on their side-by-side triple Lutzes.
"Especially in a field this deep, we could have taken ourselves completely out of contention with missing a major element and we didn't do that, we kept ourselves in the mix, and that makes us feel good going forward," Radford said.
Canadians Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau (67.52) and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (65.68) sit 12th and 13th, respectively.
'Coming down from that high'
Just two days after the team event, Duhamel, 32, and Radford, 33, received praise for their ability to quickly regroup for the pairs competition.
"What an enormous job they had to do, coming down from that high of winning the team gold," said CBC Sports figure skating commentator Carol Lane.
"Only one day [in between] to reset, refocus and then go again. That's an enormous mental strain for the athletes."
Radford echoed that sentiment, saying afterwards that the pair's mental approach has been the key to consistency.
"I think we are getting to the proper mental space that we want to be in for the program," said Radford in an interview with CBC Sports' Paul Martini.
"That's the most challenging thing to do and we are doing really well at it so far. So we just need to do it one more time [in the free program]."
VIDEO | Duhamel, Radford want to make the most of their final program
Radford then hinted at retirement, indicating they would love to turn in a clean free skate and have a great moment.
"This is potentially our last program of our competitive career and we just want to make the most of it," he said.
"We were saying back stage … you really just want to end on a really nice note. That's a small goal we have."
The short program also featured Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik, who are part of a delegation of 22 North Korean athletes participating in the Games. The duo spent eights weeks last summer training alongside Duhamel and Radford in Montreal with coach (and Duhamel's husband) Bruno Marcotte.
They were the only North Korean athletes to qualify for the Games on merit, rather than receiving a wild-card entry through a special invitation.
VIDEO | North Korean pair Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik delight the crowd
Their status, though, was in limbo as they missed the deadline to confirm their participation. However, in January, the International Olympic Committee brokered an agreement between North Korea and South Korea that paved the way for them to compete.
They earned a score of 69.40 for 11th place.
Duhamel and Radford saw the North Koreans skate on the TV on their bus ride to the rink.
"We were really excited to see them skate so well here today," Duhamel said. "I enjoy watching their short program because I worked with them a little bit on the energy of their footwork and their death spiral, so when she starts rolling her head and getting more emotional, I'm like 'Yeah! that's what I asked her to do."'
With files from The Canadian Press