PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – In what may have been the swan song to a illustrious career, waiting turned out to be the hardest part for Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Just a few days after helping Canada win gold in the figure skating team event, the two-time world and seven-time Canadian champions claimed pairs bronze Thursday in a drama-filled final hour of the pairs free program. Duhamel and Radford scored 153.33 in their free program, which included the first clean throw quad Salchow in Olympic history. The Canadians ended with a 230.15 total to win Canada’s first Olympic pairs medal since Jamie Salé and David Pelletier won gold in 2002.
Duhamel and Radford entered the free program in bronze medal position, just in front of Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. The German pair laid down the performance of their lives, setting a world record free program score of 159.31 to finish at 235.90, edging out reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China (235.47) for gold.
It was the first Olympic gold medal for the legendary Savchenko, a five-time world champion.
The final flight was not for the faint of heart. Savchenko and Massot were flawless in their free program, throwing down the gauntlet to the three teams left to skate. Duhamel and Radford laid down a strong program of their own to stay in medal contention before Weijing and Cong scored 153.08 to slip into second spot, just behind the Germans.
All the three podium hopefuls could do was hurry up and wait as the final pair of the evening, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov from the Olympic Athlete from Russia team, took to the ice. Tarasova and Morozov had their struggles and fell to fourth.
“I think that was more intense that being backstage getting ready to skate,” said Radford of having to wait and see if they would stay on the podium. “I think we’re both really proud and a little surprised at how good we felt as the Germans were receiving their marks. It didn’t excite us or make us any more nervous. We were just like ‘all right, happy for them, they had a great skate, they got a great score, and now we’re going to do the same.’”
“While we were waiting and watching the Russian team skate, after they finished skating I was holding Eric’s hand and I said, ‘I think we did enough,’” said Duhamel.
“And Eric’s like, ‘No, I’m not going to believe it until the marks come up.’ And I was like ‘Eric, I need hope, I need to feel hopeful,’” she added with a laugh.
“We came to the Olympics and we just delivered four amazing performances – four out of four.”
The other two Canadian entries also had strong showings in their first Olympics together.
Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau scored 136.50 in their free program to finish ninth while Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro managed 132.43 to wind up 11th.
“Today was a little bit more of what we are capable of,” said Moore-Towers. “We had nothing to lose. There’s not an Olympic medal on the line for us. It was about bettering yesterday and bettering our performances this season.”
“Today was strictly about Kirsten and I, a learning experience and leaving it all out there on the ice,” added Marinaro.
“It was a great feeling,” said Séguin of their free program. “We were able to take the energy from the crowd, get in the zone and create a moment.”
With the pairs event now completed, the men take the ice for their short program Thursday night at 8:00 PM ET. Three-time world and ten-time Canadian champion Patrick Chan and first-time Olympian Keegan Messing represent Canada.
Medal Photo Credit: David Jackson/COC