Canada's Duhamel, Radford strike back-to-back gold at figure skating worlds
Canadian duo also claimed championship in 2015
The crowd was screaming — and so was Meagan Duhamel.
With dozens of Canadian flags waving in the stands, Duhamel soared high above the ice, held aloft by partner Eric Radford in the final risky element of their free skate. As she would say later, "I knew we had done enough" to win a second straight world title.
Duhamel and Radford came from behind with a near-perfect performance to overtake China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who were forced to settle for their second silver in a row after two mistakes Saturday.
After the high of winning their first championship last year, Duhamel and Radford struggled to find their focus for much of this season. But they recaptured their form just in time for worlds.
"It's been frustration after frustration after frustration for us this season," Duhamel said. "You work so hard, and that frustration — it hurts you so deeply. It just feels so good when it all comes together.
"And I can't keep anything inside of me. I was waiting for him to put up that last lift because I was going to explode."
Five-time world champion Aliona Savchenko of Germany, skating at worlds for the first time with new partner Bruno Massot, won bronze.
Duhamel and Radford scored a personal-best 153.81 points for 231.99 total. Their performance to Adele's "Hometown Glory" ends with both on one knee, and they didn't wait to stand up to embrace. When they finally rose to their feet, Duhamel hopped up and down on her skates, still somehow bubbling with energy after a draining long program, while Radford stared back in disbelief.
"Eric's always the calm to my storm at the end of really great skates," she said. "But he is just as excited as I am."
Duhamel mouthed "thank you" toward the stands.
"It's a combination of us giving to the audience but the audience is giving to us," she said. "When we feel their energy and they start cheering for a spin or a lift, and not just big trick elements, it really inspires us to want to give more back to them."
'Flew under the radar'
There were plenty of big tricks to cheer, too: a throw quad salchow and the side-by-side triple lutz. As Duhamel and Radford waited in the kiss-and-cry area for their scores, they giddily held up the oversized pictures of their faces that their supporters had been waving in the crowd.
Even though they were the defending champs, the Canadians "flew in under the radar" before worlds, Radford acknowledged, after their uneven performances all season.
"It feels great because it's difficult not to doubt yourself when everyone else has that expectation of you," he said.
Olympic gold medalists Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia dropped from third to sixth after several errors in their long program, which included receiving no credit for a lift.
A series of mistakes also sent Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim from seventh to ninth.
The Chinese led by 2.67 points after the short program, seeking their first world title. But Sui fell on the throw quad salchow and did a double instead of a triple on their side-by-side salchows.
They received 143.62 points for 224.47 total. She's still just 20 and he's 23.
"We left many regrets in this competition," Han said through a translator. "We probably thought too much before we go to the free skate, and that led to the mistakes."
Savchenko and Massot earned 141.95 points for 216.17 total. He used to compete for France, and they teamed up two years ago but had to wait before they were eligible to represent Germany.
Savchenko is 32, but she decided to keep competing after a disappointing bronze medal at the 2014 Olympics. On Saturday, a bronze had her crying tears of joy.
"I'm really, really happy that I continue and I can enjoy what I love to do," she said.
Massot, who's five years her junior, is thrilled about her choice, too. "I would like to say, `Thank you, Aliona, to want to continue and to continue with me,"' he said after winning his first world championships medal.