Duhamel and Radford win gold at ISU Grand Prix

OSAKA, Japan – Meaghan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., won the gold medal Saturday in pairs at the NHK Trophy, the last stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit before next month’s Final.

The Canadians won their two Grand Prix assignments this season and easily qualify for the Final set for December 11-14 in Barcelona.

Duhamel and Radford totalled 199.78 points for the victory.  Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia were second at 183.60 and Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China third at 182.00.

‘’The long program was a lot more challenging for us today after a great short program (on Friday,’’ said Radford.  ‘’We were expecting more of ourselves but we understand it is still relatively early in the season and we don’t want to peak right now.  But we know it’s going to take a lot more than we had today to be on top of the podium in Barcelona and ultimately at the world championships.’’

Duhamel fell on the quad Salchow throw but says the manoeuvre it is an essential part of their program.

‘’We were happy to win today but it is not as fun when you don’t skate your best,’’ said Duhamel. ‘’It’s good for us to get the quad out there at every single competition because we want to be able to land it in the program consistently by the time we get to worlds.’’

In men’s competition, Daisuke Murakami of Japan was the winner with Sergei Voronov of Russia second and Takahito Mura of Japan third. Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., climbed from seventh to sixth and Jeremy Ten of Vancouver remained eighth.

Baldje produced a clean program which included a quadruple toe loop and triple Axel.  He suffered a concussion last month which left him off the ice for three weeks.

‘’I’m extremely happy with my performances this week,’’ said Baldje.  ‘’Considering the situation that I had only two weeks of full training I did a really satisfying job.’’

Ten also landed a quad, for him a first in competition.

‘’I really patted myself on the back for getting credit for that quad,’’ said Ten.  ‘’Right now I feel I’m in control of my emotions and my nerves and it shows in how much I’ve improved this season. It was a great way for me to end the Grand Prix season.’’

Gracie Gold of the U.S. took the gold in women’s competition with Alena Leonova of Russia second and Satoko Miyahara of Japan third.  Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., gained a spot after the short to finish sixth.

‘’I didn’t put so much pressure on myself for the free skate after a tough short program,’’ said Daleman, a 2014 Olympian.  ‘’I just wanted to have fun with it.’’

In ice dancing, world silver medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., are first after the short dance with 67.51 points.  Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Britain are second at 60.49 and Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin of Russia third at 59.70.

‘’It was a great program for us today,’’ said Weaver.  ‘’There were a couple of level issues but we felt it was much stronger than at Skate Canada.  Now we just want to build on that momentum for the free dance.’’

The free dance is on Sunday.

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/gpjpn2014/index.htm

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