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Duhamel/Radford, Weaver/Poje end Canadian droughts with gold at ISU Grand Prix Final

BARCELONA – Canada enjoyed its biggest success at an ISU Grand Prix Final figure skating competition in 13 years on Saturday.

Meaghan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., broke their Canadian record to win the gold medal in pairs and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., also set a personal best for the victory in ice dancing.

It was Canada’s first gold in the Grand Prix Final since Patrick Chan won the men’s competition in 2011 and the first victory in pairs and ice dance since 2001.  At that Grand Prix Final in Kitchener, Ont., Jamie Sale and David Pelletier took the pairs crown and Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz won the ice dance.

Duhamel and Radford produced 220.72 points which bettered their previous best of 213.62 set at the Canadian championships in January 2014.  It also ranks fourth all-time on the ISU scoring list. Olympic silver medallists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia, the top-seeded pair going into the competition, took the silver at 213.72 and Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China were third at 194.31.

The highlight of Duhamel and Radford’s free skate on Saturday –performed to music by Muse- was landing the throw quadruple Salchow.  That came just after Duhamel touchdown on both hands the side-by-side triple Lutz.

‘’We were so confident in our quad Salchow that it didn’t matter that I touched on the Lutz,’’ said Duhamel.  ‘’It’s (the quad) has been so consistent for us in practice that we were going for it no matter what.’’

Radford was certainly pleased the green light was on.

‘’We’ve been waiting to have a skate like this all season,’’ said Radford, who mentioned he was in the audience when Sale and Pelletier won their gold in 2001.  ‘’This was the first time that we actually hit the quad like we do in practice.  It is so exciting.’’

After placing first in the short program Thursday, Duhamel and Radford were the last skaters to compete in the six-team event.

‘’We knew the Russian would skate a clean program, they have been so consistent all year,’’ said Duhamel.  ‘’But it always seem to be our fate to go on after a great performances.  We’ve surpassed all our goals for the first half of the season and we want to step it up more for the second half.’’

Weaver-Poje-GPF-Gold

In ice dancing, Weaver and Poje bettered their score from last season’s silver medal performance at the world championships with 181.14 points.  Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. were second at 167.09 and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France third at 162.39.

‘’It’s definitely our strongest performance yet and it’s great to see the program is still growing,’’ said Poje.  ‘’We really brought across the emotion and we were so connected on the ice that the story really came through.’’

The Canadians skated to excerpts from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

‘’It’s hard to pick out a moment that really stands out for us from what we did on the ice because we were so focused,’’ said Weaver.  ‘’My best memory was probably our lift because it got such a reaction from the crowd.’’

The audience did not agree with the judges’ scores for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto who took fifth spot.

‘’We had a small bobble on one of the lifts and it probably wasn’t our best skate overall,’’ said Poirier.  ‘’At the same time we didn’t have any big errors and we achieved our goal of producing two strong programs this week.’’

Canada also had a successful showing in the junior competition this week capped by a gold medal for Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., and Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., in pairs on Friday.

NOTE: Skate Canada Communications Director, Barb MacDonald, will be the media contact at the event. To arrange onsite interviews please contact her by email at [email protected]

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/gpf1415/

Duhamel-Radford-GPF-1

Duhamel and Radford lead in Barcelona

BARCELONA – Meaghan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., earned their best-ever component score and are in first place after the pairs short program at the ISU Grand Prix Final in figure skating.

The two-time world championship bronze medallists posted a season best 74.70 points (including 34.49 for components) for their performance to Un peu plus haut (A Little Bit Higher) by Ginette Reno. In the detailed scores, one of the judges gave them a 10 on the choreography component.

Olympic silver medallists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia are second at 72.33 and Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China third at 66.66.

“The component elements have always been considered our weaker side,” said Radford. “To finish ahead of the Russian pair who are extremely strong technically is a big step for us. We were really in the moment tonight. Nothing could stop us.”

Duhamel and Radford have enjoyed a superb season heading into the Final winning their three international competitions this fall including their two Grand Prix assignments. Still the nerves were present.

“I was feeling more nervous than usual,” said Duhamel. “I didn’t know what to expect and I was hoping I would get into the zone. Once the music started and we were very together going into our first element I knew we were going to be alright.”

That first element was a triple twist which was followed by the side-by-side triple Lutz and throw triple Salchow which set the tone for a flawless performance.

Canadian pair also lead Junior Grand Prix Final

Also taking place in Barcelona is the Junior Grand Prix Final. In pairs, Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charles Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., are in the lead after the short program with an international best 59.22 points. Four Russian couples follow in the standings including Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin just 0.18 behind the leaders.

“We couldn’t be happier with our performance,” said Bilodeau, who won his two Grand Prix assignments with his partner this season. “We executed all our elements and achieved level fours even on our twist for the first time. It gives us a lot of confidence for the free program.”

In ice dancing, Mackenzie Bent of Uxbridge, Ont., and Garrett MacKeen of Oshawa, Ont.,are fourth after the short dance while Madeline Edwards of Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang of Burnaby, B.C., are fifth.

Bent and MacKeen are only 1.24 points from third place.

“The footwork has been a big focus for us in training and was really what we were pushing towards,” said Bent. “We took our time, made sure every turn was clean and perfected to exactly how we practiced it. In the free dance we just want to continue in the same direction as today.”

Edwards and Pang are also in medal contention just 2.92 points from third.

“One of our goals this season was just to get here,” said Pang. “Our short dance today wasn’t our best but we are still happy with how we did it. It’s a program we enjoy.”

In men’s competition, Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., is sixth after the short.

Competition continues Friday with the short programs for senior ice dancing and men’s and the free programs for all four junior events. All four senior finals are on Saturday.

NOTE: Skate Canada Communications Director, Barb MacDonald, will be the media contact at the event. To arrange onsite interviews please contact her by email at [email protected]

Thirteen Canadian Skaters Headed to the ISU Grand Prix Final in Barcelona

OTTAWA, ON: After an outstanding summer and fall season by athletes on the international circuit, Skate Canada will send three entries, for a total of six skaters, to compete against the top figure skaters in the world. They all qualified for the ISU Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in in Barcelona, Spain from December 11-14, 2014.

The ISU Senior Grand Prix Final is the concluding event of the ISU Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit.  The series hosts six stops: United States (Skate America), Canada (Skate Canada International), China (Cup of China), France (Trophée Eric Bompard), Russia (Rostelecom Cup), and Japan (NHK Trophy). Skaters are awarded points based on their placements at their assigned two events and the top six in each of the four disciplines advance to the Final.

In senior, Canada will be represented by Meagan Duhamel, 28, Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford, 29, Balmertown, Ont., in the pair category. Canada will have two entries in ice dance: Kaitlyn Weaver, 25, Waterloo, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 27, Waterloo, Ont., and Piper Gilles, 22, Toronto, Ont., and Paul Poirier, 22, Unionville, Ont.

Earlier this season Canada qualified four entries, for a total of seven skaters, for the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final, also taking place in Barcelona, Spain from December 11-14, 2014. Similar to the senior qualification, juniors are assigned two events on the seven-event series. Only the top six in each category advance to the Final.

In junior, Canada will be represented by Roman Sadovsky, 15, Vaughan, Ont., in men’s, Julianne Séguin, 17, Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau, 21, Trois-Pistoles, Que., in pair. There are also two junior entries in ice dance, Mackenzie Bent, 17, Uxbridge, Ont., and Garrett MacKeen, 20, Oshawa, Ont., and Madeline Edwards, 18, Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang, 19, Burnaby, B.C.

Olympic silver medallists (team) and two-time world bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel, 28, Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford, 29, Balmertown, Ont., will be Canada’s pair entry. They won gold at both of their grand prix assignments this season, Skate Canada International and NHK Trophy. The representatives of Walden FSC and CPA Saint-Léonard placed fifth at the Final last season; this will be their fourth trip to the Final. They are coached by Richard Gauthier, Bruno Marcotte and Sylvie Fullum at CPA Saint-Léonard.

World silver medallists Kaitlyn Weaver, 25, Waterloo, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 27, Waterloo, Ont., lead the Canadian entries in ice dance. Weaver and Poje won gold at both Skate Canada International and NHK Trophy to secure their ticket to Barcelona. This will be their fourth trip to the Final, having placed fifth in 2013. Representing Sault FSC and Kitchener-Waterloo SC, the seven-time Canadian medallists are coached by Pasquale Camerlengo and Angelika Krylova in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Piper Gilles, 22, Toronto, Ont., and Paul Poirier, 22, Unionville, Ont., will make their first Grand Prix Final appearance as a team in Barcelona also in ice dance. They captured silver medals at both their grand prix assignments, Skate Canada International and Trophée Eric Bompard.   Representing the Scarboro FSC they are coached by Carol Lane, Juris Razgulajevs, Jon Lane and Roy Bradshaw at Ice Dance Elite in Scarborough, Ont.

ISU Junior Grand Prix Final
Roman Sadovsky, 15, Vaughan, Ont., kicked off his season with a gold medal win in Ostrava, Czech Republic, the third stop on the junior circuit. Sadovsky would go on to place fourth in Dresden, Germany, the sixth stop on the circuit. He is coached by Tracey Wainman and Gregor Filipowski at the YSRA Winter Club.

In pair Julianne Séguin, 17, Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau, 21, Trois-Pistoles, Que., captured gold at both of their assignments (Ostrava and Dresden) and go into the Final as the top ranked pair team. Representing CPA Longueuil and CPA Chambly they are coached by Josée Picard and Marc-André Craig.

Ice dancers Mackenzie Bent, 17, Uxbridge, Ont., and Garrett MacKeen, 20, Oshawa, Ont., will enter the Final as the second ranked ice dance team. Bent and MacKeen won gold at stop number three in Ostrava, Czech Republic and silver at event number five in Tallinn, Estonia. They train at Scarboro Ice Dance Elite with coaches Juris Razgulajevs and Carol Lane.

Madeline Edwards, 18, Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang, 19, Burnaby, B.C., are the second entry in ice dance for Canada. Their season began at the first ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Courchevel, France with a silver medal performance. Edwards and Pang would go on to improve on that result, winning gold in Aichi, Japan the fourth stop on the circuit.  The representatives of Burnaby FSC are coached by Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe at the Champs International Skating Centre.

Skate Canada Communications Director, Barb MacDonald, will be the media contact at the event. To arrange onsite interviews please contact her by email at [email protected]

Skate Canada High Performance Director, Mike Slipchuk, will be the Canadian team leader at the event, along with Marie Bowness, of Bedford, N.S. Dr. Bob Brock of Toronto, Ont., and physiotherapist Agnes Makowski of Toronto, Ont., will be the Canadian medical staff onsite. Susan Heffernan of Roberts Creek, B.C., and Leslie Keen of Vancouver, B.C., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

Skate Canada President, Leanna Caron, and Chief Executive Officer, Dan Thompson, will also travel to the event to represent Skate Canada.

For results and full entries please visit www.isu.org.

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT THE 2014 ISU SENIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL

Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Pairs Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford 28/29 Lively, Ont. / Balmertown, Ont. Walden FSC / CPA Saint-Léonard Richard Gauthier / Bruno Marcotte
Ice dance Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje 25/27 Waterloo, Ont. – Houston, TX / Waterloo, Ont. Sault FSC / Kitchener-Waterloo SC Pasquale Camerlengo / Angelika Krylova
Ice Dance Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier 22/22 Toronto, Ont. – Colorado Springs, CO, U.S.A. / Unionville, Ont. Scarboro FSC / Scarboro FSC Carol Lane / Juris Razgulajevs

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT THE 2014 ISU JUNIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL

Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Roman Sadovsky 15 Vaughan, Ont. YRSA Winter Club Tracey Wainman / Gregor Filipowski
Pairs Julianne Séguin / Charlie Bilodeau 17/21 Longueuil, Que. / Trois-Pistoles, Que. CPA Longueuil / CPA De Drummondville Inc. Josée Picard / Patrice Archetto
Ice Dance Mackenzie Bent / Garrett MacKeen 17/20 Uxbridge, Ont. / Oshawa, Ont. Uxbridge SC / Bowmanville FSC Juris Razgulajevs / Carol Lane
Ice Dance Madeline Edwards /  Zhao Kai Pang 18/19 Port Moody, BC / Burnaby, BC Inlet SC / Inlet SC Megan Wing / Aaron Lowe

Next stop Barcelona

Canada’s teamsters are the power base of the six-member team that qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona next week. This year, they are dancing and throwing and lifting like nobody’s business.

For Canada, without any Elvis Stojkos, or Joannie Rochettes, or Jeff Buttles, or (even any Emanuel Sandhus) this time, the men and women singles skaters of the country are sitting it out, while the pairs and dance teams go to battle. They are powerful. They have proven to be winners.

In fact, Canada’s pair champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and its heart-grabbing dance doublet, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have had similar trips to get to the Grand Prix Final this season, having decisively won both of their grand prix events this year.  “We are one team,” said the caption under one photo of them together at the end of the NHK Trophy.

Their records are eerily similar. Both Duhamel and Radford and Weaver and Poje have had one fourth and two fifths in three previous appearances at the Grand Prix Final. But this is a different era and a different time. They have both come into their own.

“The biggest difference this year is that we didn’t squeak into the final like the last two years,” Duhamel said. “It’s kind of exciting for us.”

Also accompanying them are dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who are getting to the final for the first time in their careers, although Poirier earned a bronze medal in 2011 with previous partner Vanessa Crone.

In the past, Canada’s men and ice dancers have proven most prolific at winning medals in the Grand Prix Final. Not so much the pairs team, although Canada has had a long history of successful pairs. Canada hasn’t won a Grand Prix Final pair medal of any colour since Jamie Salé and David Pelletier scored back-to-back wins in 2001 and 2002, enroute to winning an Olympic gold medal. That’s 12 years ago.

But Duhamel and Radford are sliding to the Grand Prix Final with a new trick (throw quad Salchow) and new attitudes. “We don’t have any fear when we are skating anymore,” Duhamel said. “Last year I was always scared to lose. Scared if another Canadian team was higher than us. Now we’re in control.”

“We just put too much pressure on ourselves,” Radford said. “We put so much energy on everybody else, rather than just concentrating on ourselves.” This year, with the Olympics in the past, they’ve let it all go. Now they aim to do the best they can and enjoy the ride, skate with freedom, challenge themselves with this new, rare trick, the throw quad Salchow.

They’ve wanted to do the quad since they hitched up together. Coach Richard Gauthier didn’t want them to take the risk. He told them they needed to do clean programs with the triples before they even thought about that quad – and to forget about it until after the Olympics.

During their tour with the Stars on Ice in the spring, that quad came back to mind. Before they went on vacation after the tour, they tried one – and Duhamel rotated it, although she fell.

“Okay, this is going to be possible,” Radford thought.

Their goal was to perfect this rare trick by the world championships in Shanghai, China in March. So far they’ve tried the throw four times in competition and landed it well twice. They missed it at the NHK Trophy in Japan, but adrenalin got the best of them. The lesson learned, Duhamel said, was to not make the thing so BIG.

After winning their first grand prix gold at Skate Canada International, Duhamel felt pressure to land the quad at the next one, and their focus switched away from their plan. They’ve now righted the course. As they did earlier in the year, they will now stay calm, let it happen.

As for Weaver and Poje, they’ve had “a grand season so far,” Weaver said. “We’ve competed in every competition with confidence and strength, and that in turn turned into winning scores.”

The best news is that they have lots of room to grow. At both Skate Canada International and NHK Trophy, they left marks on the table in some elements, but they’ve been working on all the little pieces of the puzzle to emerge “better and stronger and bigger” at the Final, Weaver said. They’re also adding more detail to their programs, particularly the challenging free dance, with all of its constant changes of positions and holds. “It’s a new year and a new quadrennial and we’re happy to be at the forefront of it,” Weaver said. “And hoping to continue Canada’s great tradition of dominance in ice dance.”

Canada has won 10 Grand Prix Final medals in ice dancing, but the last gold medal came from Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz in 2002 in the lead-up to the Salt Lake City Olympics. Now Bourne has had a big hand in their free dance and is a guiding voice on their road to success.

After a disappointing season last year, after missing the Olympics because of a severe leg fracture for Poirier, Canada’s other dance team finds their season going exactly to plan. The twosome set lofty goals for themselves this year and they are attaining them: winning medals at grand prix events and qualifying for the final.

Their troubled season changed their perspective, showed them they could improve quickly and already they are much further ahead than they were by the world championships last season. Poirier’s right leg is still weak, and he has limited range of motion in the ankle, but he can train at full capacity and the injury doesn’t limit him. They’re gratified that they were able to edge past Americans Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue this season, when last year they were neck and neck with them.

Duhamel and Radford, the elder statesmen of the group at ages 28 and 29, are grateful they did not stop skating after last season. “We are wiser than we were last season,” Duhamel said. “I’m so happy I didn’t decide to quit last year. I would never know what it feels like to skate with freedom.”