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Duhamel, Radford fend off challenge, defend title

Inspired performance by Moore-Towers, Moscovitch makes for close competition

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford got all they could handle from silver medalists Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford got all they could handle from silver medalists Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch. (AFP)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(01/19/2013) - Saturday was an extraordinary night for Canadian pairs skating.

Although there were only six teams competing in the senior pairs event at the 2013 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, the top two were more than enough to inspire the audience and create a sense of excitement about what lays ahead at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships.

After 2011 Canadian champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch put down a strong program that brought the crowd to its feet, defending champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford found themselves shaking in their boots.

But once the music started, they got into their zone.

"This year, our job was a little bit more difficult because, before us, Dylan and Kirsten had just skated the skate of their lives," Duhamel said. "They scored a really high score, so we felt so much pressure. We knew that we couldn't afford to put a step wrong.

"We felt so much stress. We've been feeling it all week long. We just looked at each other and said, 'Forget about it. We're at home. We have a job to do and we need to do it.'

"What Eric and I have learned about each other is that we are very good clutch performers. Every time we're under pressure, we think we can't do it, we always just get the job done. We've become confident with that feeling."

Duhamel and Radford, both 27, are veteran competitors, and based on last year's win, they knew they were capable of rising in big occasions.

The pressure on them in Mississauga was even more intense because Moore-Towers and Moscovitch had posted a score higher than any Duhamel and Radford had achieved.

"We're true competitors at heart," Duhamel said. "We heard their score. We looked at each other and said, 'Let's go higher.'"

"It was incredibly difficult," Radford said. "It was a huge amount of pressure. To try and stay in the moment was incredibly challenging."

While they were extremely happy with the victory, there was also a new sense of satisfaction that they have achieved a level of consistency and they continue to make forward progress.

"Performing to our potential," Radford said. "That's what the sport is all about.

"I think Meagan and I took a very long path to get to where we are. We went through so many ups and downs and times where quitting was an option, but we've persevered. I'm finally in that place I always imagined myself."

"I take little moments throughout the competition -- even when I'm so nervous, I feel the world's going to end -- to say, 'Thank you,' because there are so many other people who would love to be in my position. I've worked so hard to get here. I don't take it for granted at all."

That includes paying attention to details. Radford decided not to shave before either the short or free because he thought the scruff went well with both programs.

"It's kind of part of the character in the free skate. It's very masculine and manly. I'm playing a 1950s, kind of suave guy. I feel the beard goes with that," he said.

While they did enjoy the large margin of victory they had last year, Duhamel and Radford are actually happy that Moore-Towers and Moscovitch were so close on their heels.

"That's the most exciting thing," Duhamel said. "All this year we've been saying, 'We've got to get a third spot for the Olympics.' It's looking like that could really happen. For all of us to put out the scores we did this week and the skates that we did, those are world-class performances, and those are world class scores. It's really important the world take notice."