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Duhamel, Radford ready, grateful to be at worlds

Canadian champions prepare for Nice with high hopes, appreciation

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford appreciate the chance to skate at worlds.
Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford appreciate the chance to skate at worlds. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(03/16/2012) - Their years in the sport and journey to reach their current level are evident in the words of 2012 Canadian pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. In a teleconference on Friday morning, they spoke about how grateful they are to have the opportunity to compete at their second world figure skating championships together.

"When we were at nationals and we had that big moment and we won the national title, it was such a huge, huge moment in our lives," Duhamel, 26, said. "I was also thinking and telling Eric, 'On top of all this, we get to go back to the world championships.' We're just living our dream. It's amazing."

Radford, 27, said people in the skating world know how long he worked to reach this level. He also noted that 2011 Canadian pairs champion Dylan Moscovitch is one of his best friends. He saw how a few errors dropped Moscovitch and partner Kirsten Moore-Towers to fourth place at this year's Canadian championships.

"I always take a moment either when we're traveling to the competition or at some point during the competition, and I take it all in and I kind of say thanks that I have the opportunity to be here, because before all I wanted was to get to this level," Radford said. "Now I'm in the middle of it and I don't want to take it for granted. With each competition -- and even the shows we were doing this year -- I really appreciate it.

"Even when I'm really nervous before the competition, I'll take a deep breath and be like, 'I'm really nervous, but at the same time I'm lucky to be feeling this way.' There are other skaters in Canada and in the world that would love to be in my position."

Duhamel and Radford both said the Four Continents Championships were a rough event for them. They had hoped to ride the wave of adrenaline they felt coming off the Canadian championships, but by the time of the short program in Colorado Springs, both felt flat. They managed to pull up to fourth place after the free skate but were disappointed with their scores.

After that competition, they took some time off, with both of them heading to Mexico for rest and relaxation. They returned to training feeling rejuvenated and totally focused on worlds.

"From the moment we got back on the ice ... it felt completely different," Radford said. "It was like we had this target for worlds. We felt motivated; we had energy to draw up.

"We made a few little changes here and there," he added. "We've been working on the fine details of both programs. It's getting to feel a lot more like it did before nationals. We're in a very, very good position right now to have a good skate."

Duhamel said the goal is to place in the top five and score even better than they did at the Canadian championships, where they earned a stellar 129.19 points for their free skate.

"We feel strong and ready," she said. "We've had a couple of monitoring sessions with people from Skate Canada. They've gone extremely well. This week we did a clean short and clean long program run-through in practice that were like the best programs we've ever done. So everything is feeling really comfortable, and we feel like we're ready to step it up now."

The pair leaves for Nice on Saturday, March 24. Duhamel adheres to a strict vegan diet and will take food with her to make sure she has access to what she needs. She brings enough for breakfast and lunch -- instant porridge, dried fruit, trail mix and homemade bread -- and assumes she'll be able to get fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner. She also has her vitamins and supplements.

Well aware of the beautiful surroundings in Nice, Duhamel and Radford said they plan to do a bit of sightseeing in their downtime, including a day trip to nearby Monaco.

Before they check out the palaces of Monte Carlo, they are eager to show off how they've come together as a team in the past year.

"In the last year since worlds in Russia, which were our first worlds together, we've learned so much," Duhamel said. "It's been quite the journey, and we've had some great competitions and some not so great competitions. We're much better equipped as a team to deal with a big event like the world championships this year. We have a lot more mileage together, which makes us feel more confident and prepared for the competition."

Radford said, with time, the little things come to feel more and more natural.

"It's a lot of work," he noted. "We notice the little improvements day by day. We're always looking for more way to improve. Our coaching team and our choreographer always look for other little ways to improve. It's a never-ending process."

Duhamel said before they dreamed and worked for perfect performances. Now, having had a great moment at the Canadian championships, they've felt it.

"We feel much more secure," she said. "It's really helped our short and long programs. When we're doing run-throughs now, we feel more comfortable and we feel more confident."