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Pride Profile: “I believe the world is changing but I know there is still more work to be done”

June is Pride Month and an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the LGBTQI2S+ community. Skate Canada has done and is continuing to do substantive work in relation to LGBTQI2S+ inclusion but we know there remains critical inclusion work to be done moving forward.

To support an inclusive environment this Pride Month we are sharing personal stories from our skating community. Below is the story of two-time world champion Eric Radford.

When I first watched figure skating on TV, I was instantly enamoured. It seemed as though the skaters could fly and as a kid, I was obsessed with planes and being able to fly. At that moment, I had no idea that skating would bring so many incredible experiences into my life, but also many challenges.

Being the only male figure skater in a small northern community where hockey was the most popular sport was not easy. There was a lot of name calling and bullying. I couldn’t understand why the other kids hated me so much because I liked this amazing sport. As I got older, and I started to have more success, the bullying never completely disappeared, but it diminished.

When I was 17, after a lot of internal struggle, I finally accepted that I was gay. My closest friends at the time were my training mates and when I came out to them, they were nothing but supportive and positive. Their acceptance and support of who I was, made a profound impact on me and was the catalyst for the self-acceptance and freedom I began to feel.

Fast forward 13 years and the opportunity to show the world my true self was presented. When I decided to come out publicly, it conjured up the same fear and anxiety I had when I came out to my friends and family. What if this changed everything? What if it affected my chances at success? Again, I was lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family supporting me, but the biggest and best surprise was the messages and support I received from people I didn’t even know.

Young athletes wrote me about their struggles and related that sharing my story had helped them. This made any fear and anxiety I did have totally worth it. I received so much support from around the world and from within the skating community.

A special moment for me was at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, where at the end of the long program, there were pride flags waving in the stands. I believe the world is changing but I know there is still more work to be done for the LGBTQI2S+ community and for LGBTQI2S+ athletes. I would love a future where an athlete’s sexuality is no longer news and that they simply feel free and comfortable to share details about their life that they otherwise would want to hide. As athletes in figure skating and other sports continue to share their stories about being their authentic selves, let us take a moment and appreciate how far the LGBTQI2S+ community in sport has come.

Happy and safe Pride everyone!

Skate Canada thanks to Eric Radford for sharing his story and bringing awareness to the skating community. If you are a member of the LGBTQI2S+ skating community and are interested in sharing your personal story please send us an email at [email protected].

Vanessa James and Eric Radford to compete in pairs together

OTTAWA, ON: Vanessa James, 33, Scarborough, Ont., and Eric Radford, 36, Balmertown, Ont., have formed a new skating partnership and will compete for Canada in the pairs discipline this coming season. Both skaters have previously competed internationally with different partners, James representing France and Radford on the Canadian national team.

“Partnering up with Eric is a very exciting career opportunity. I am looking forward to a season full of inspiration, joy and personal growth,” said Vanessa James. “We’re both very much looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.”

“I’m looking forward to this new partnership with Vanessa and getting back on the ice and doing what we love,” said Eric Radford. “Vanessa and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Canada this coming season and are looking forward to see what the future holds for our partnership.”

James and Radford both did not compete this season. James, with her previous skating partner Morgan Ciprés, is the 2019 European Champion, the 2018 World bronze medallist in the pairs event, and represented France at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. James and Ciprés announced their retirement in September 2019. Radford, with his previous skating partner Meagan Duhamel, is a two-time World pair champion (2015, 2016), a 2018 Olympic gold medallist in the team event, a 2018 Olympic bronze medallist in the pairs event, and a seven-time Canadian national champion (2012-18). Duhamel and Radford announced their retirement in April 2018.

This coming season, James and Radford will be training in Quebec coached by Julie Marcotte, and the pair team looks forward to representing Canada at international events.

Any media inquiries please contact [email protected].

Photo Credit: Naskademini naskademini.com

World and Olympic champion Eric Radford vying for spot on ISU Athletes’ Commission

OTTAWA, ON – Eric Radford may have retired from competitive figure skating last year, but the two-time world champion and three-time Olympic medallist wants to remain an integral part of the sport he is so passionate about.

Radford, who is also a seven-time Canadian pair champion, will bid for a spot on the International Skating Union’s Athletes’ Commission when secret-ballot voting takes place at the 2019 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan from March 18-24.

The Commission is made up of five athletes – one each from singles/pair, ice dance, synchronized skating, short track and long track speedskating disciplines.

“I’m excited and honoured to be running for the ISU athlete representative position as the sport of figure skating is close to my heart and the Olympic ice is fresh in my memory,” says Radford, who enjoyed paramount success in pair skating but also skated singles early in his career.

“Our sport is in a constant state of evolution and my goal is to ensure the athlete’s voices will be heard as new directions are taken. I dedicated so many years to achieving the highest possible level in this amazing sport and I’d be honoured if given the opportunity to apply my focus to this position.”

Radford and partner Meagan Duhamel formed one of the most successful teams in Canadian pair skating history. In addition to back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2016, Duhamel and Radford won seven consecutive Canadian pair championships between 2012 and 2018. They were also two-time Four Continents champions (2015, 2013) and the 2014-15 ISU Grand Prix Final champions. At the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games in 2018, Duhamel and Radford put the finishing touches on an outstanding career by helping Canada to a gold medal in the team event and adding bronze in the pairs event.

“We are honoured to endorse Eric’s bid for a seat on the ISU’s Athletes’ Commission,” says Debra Armstrong, Skate Canada’s Chief Executive Officer. “During his career, Eric was a national, world and Olympic champion, and is an outstanding ambassador for figure skating, both in Canada and around the world. We have no doubt Eric will excel in this role if he is elected and will do an outstanding job promoting our athletes and our sport.”

“Having competed internationally in both singles and pairs I know I have the insight and experience to give the athletes a strong voice within the ISU,” adds Radford. “I believe I have the experience to add so much to the sport, and I would be honoured to be a voice for these outstanding athletes. I look forward to getting to the table right away if I am elected.”

Journey of Friendship: Eric Radford composes free program music for friend and fellow world champion Patrick Chan

The music, aptly titled “A Journey”, was as sudden as it was uplifting for Patrick Chan, a spellbinding piece of wonder composed by one world champion for another.

Barely a month has passed since friends and national team stablemates Patrick Chan and Eric Radford returned from a casual night out in St. John’s, Newfoundland, during the Skate Canada Ice Summit. Radford, a polished musician and the two-time defending world pair champion with Meagan Duhamel, sat down at a piano in the hotel lobby and, without warning, began playing.

A photo posted by Eric Radford (@ericradford85) on

The moments that followed turned out to be awakening of sorts for Chan, the three-time world champion who had been searching, without luck, for the perfect free program music.

Until then.

“I immediately tuned in to what he was playing,” says Chan. “I couldn’t believe how beautiful the piece was, and I asked if he wrote it. He said yes, it was his.”

“I told him to keep playing. I was like ‘Oh my God.’ It was exactly what I was looking for. Complete strangers were coming over to listen to him play. It was amazing.”

“Right there I asked him if he could send me a couple of pieces to possibly consider for a program.”

Within days, Chan says, Radford sent five pieces of music for Chan to listen to. Unable to contain his excitement, he forwarded the pieces to coach Kathy Johnson, refusing to tell her who had composed the music. He just wanted Johnson to listen.

She did and, like Chan, fell in love with the music.

“Kathy loved it. We went from there and we’ve kind of built it to where we are now. It’s been amazing.

“It’s almost choreographed itself.”

Not that it needs to, since Chan is once again teamed up with world-renowned choreographer David Wilson, one of the best in the business.

“It’s challenging after such a short off-season to get back in the rink, try to focus and get creative,” says Chan. “I find this process can sometimes be challenging, so to work with David, who very nurturing as an individual, makes it fun and creative. He is just amazing to work with.”

Chan will perform the program at Skate Canada International, his first ISU Grand Prix assignment of the year. Duhamel and Radford will also defend their titles at the event in Mississauga, Ont. this October.

Previously, Radford had composed “Tribute” in honour of his longtime coach Paul Wirtz, who passed away in 2006.  Duhamel and Radford skated to the music for their short program during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics season.

When working on the final product for Chan, Radford went back in the studio and merged two pieces of music together – one strings-based and the other solely piano.

“When I originally watched Patrick skate to the music (on video), what made me smile most was how David captured the more intricate things,” says Radford. “David’s originality as a choreographer, and Patrick’s skating ability, make them the ultimate team.”

“Our friendship has really blossomed over the past couple of years, especially since the Sochi Olympics,” says Radford of his bond with Chan.

“When I found out Patrick was going to skate to my music, it was like winning a world championship of my own. I hope he is able to find a calmness, something special, within the music.”

It is a season like no other for Chan, who goes in search of a ninth Canadian – and fourth world – title. Returning to competition last season after a year hiatus, Chan is determined not to put any added pressure on himself as a new season dawns.  The goal, as always, will be to finish atop the podium, but Chan isn’t going to focus as much on the results as he his on his growth as a skater, a performer and a person.

“For me, it’s all about the process and growing as an individual, when it comes to movement,” he adds. “This program, and Eric’s piece, is making me grow as a skater, to express in different ways that nobody will ever understand. It’s very much for personal gain, a selfish gain, which is good.

“I don’t think I’ve given myself enough years to do that. I think I’ve spent a lot of years trying to please everyone that’s watching.”

For Chan, there is something different about this season.

It’s about the music and the journey, not necessarily where, or even if, he finishes on the podium.

“This is just another season to me,” Chan admits. “When the music plays and I’m on the ice by myself, that’s when the magic happens. I don’t want to make a big deal.

“It’s just another competition that I’m going to give my best and hopefully affect people’s lives in a positive way.”

Canadian team prepared for 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will send 10 entries for a total of 16 skaters to the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Boston, MA, USA, from March 28 – April 3. Canada will have two entries per category in men’s and ladies and three entries per category in pair and ice dance.

Three-time World Champion and double Olympic silver medallist (men’s and team) Patrick Chan, 25, Toronto, Ont., is the first of two Canadian entries in men’s. Chan returns to the world championships for the first time since 2013, when he won gold. In his return to competition this season, the representative of the Granite Club won gold at Skate Canada International, placed fifth at Trophée Éric Bompard, fourth at the ISU Grand Prix Final, and won gold at the ISU Four Continents Championships. The eight time Canadian champion is coached by Kathy Johnson and trains at the Detroit Skating Club.

Nam Nguyen, 17, Toronto, Ont., will be the second Canadian entry in men’s. Last season, he placed fifth at this event, and in 2014, he placed 12th. This season, Nguyen placed fifth at Skate Canada International, seventh at the Rostelecom Cup and fourth at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. He is coached by Brian Orser and Ernest Pryhitka at the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club.

Canadian Champion Alaine Chartrand, 19, Prescott, Ont., is one of two Canadian entries in the ladies category. Last year, Chartrand placed 11th at this event. This season, she placed 12th at Skate America, sixth at the Rostelecom Cup and 11th at the ISU Four Continents Championships. The representative of the Nepean Skating Club is coached by Michelle Leigh and Brian Orser.

Gabrielle Daleman, 18, Newmarket, Ont., will be the second Canadian entry in ladies. Daleman placed 21st at this event in 2015 and 13th in 2014. Earlier this season, she placed fifth at Skate Canada International, sixth at Trophée Éric Bompard at won silver at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Daleman is coached by Lee Barkell and Brian Orser at the Toronto Cricket, Skating & Curling Club.

Defending World Champions and Olympic silver medallists (team) Meagan Duhamel, 30, Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford, 31, Balmertown, Ont., lead the Canadian entries in pairs. The representatives of CPA Saint-Léonard have previously competed at this event five times, winning medals the past three years. This season, they won gold at Skate Canada International and at the NHK Trophy, and won silver at the ISU Grand Prix Final. The five-time consecutive Canadian champions are coached by Richard Gauthier, Bruno Marcotte, and Sylvie Fullum.

Lubov Ilyushechkina, 24, Moscow, Russia, and Dylan Moscovitch, 31, Toronto, Ont., are the second Canadian pair entry at the event. Last year, they placed 13th at the World Championships. Earlier this season, the representatives of the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club placed seventh at the Cup of China, fifth at the NHK Trophy and fifth at the ISU Four Continents Championships. The two time Canadian medallists are coached by Lee Barkell, Bryce Davison and Tracy Wilson.

Kirsten Moore-Towers, 23, St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro, 24, Sarnia, Ont., are the third Canadian entry in pair. This will be their first time competing at this event. Earlier this season, Moore-Towers and Marinaro won bronze at Skate Canada International, placed seventh at the Rostelecom Cup and placed fourth at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. The representatives of Kitchener-Waterloo SC and Point Edward SC are coached by Bruno Marcotte, Richard Gauthier, Sylvie Fullum, Julie Marcotte and Cynthia Lemaire at CPA Saint-Léonard.

Two-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver, 26, Toronto, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 29, Waterloo, Ont., are the first of three Canadian entries in ice dance. This will be their eighth time competing at this event; last year, they won the bronze medal. This season, the representatives of Sault FSC and Kitchener-Waterloo SC won gold at Skate Canada International, Rostelecom Cup and the ISU Grand Prix Final, and won bronze at the ISU Four Continents Championships. Weaver and Poje also won their second consecutive Canadian title. They are coached by Angelika Krylova, Pasquale Camerlengo and Shae-Lynn Bourne in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Canadian silver medallists Piper Gilles, 24, Toronto, Ont., and Paul Poirier, 24, Unionville, Ont., will be the second Canadian entry in ice dance. This will be their fourth time competing at this event, at which they placed sixth in 2015. This season, they won bronze at Skate America, silver at Trophée Éric Bompard and placed fifth at the ISU Four Continents Championships. The representatives of Scarboro FSC also won their second consecutive Canadian silver medal. Gilles and Poirier are coached by Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs at Ice Dance Elite in Scarborough, Ont.

Canadian bronze medallists Élisabeth Paradis, 23, Loretteville, Que., and François-Xavier Ouellette, 24, Laval, Que., are the final Canadian entry in ice dance. This will be their first time competing at this event. Earlier this season, the representatives of CPA Loretteville and CPA Les Lames D’Argent De Laval Inc. placed eighth at Skate Canada International, sixth at the ISU Four Continents Championships and won their first Canadian medal (bronze) at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. They are coached by Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer.

Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk will be the team leader along with Cynthia Ullmark of Canmore, Alta. Dr. Bob Brock of Toronto, Ont., and physiotherapist Agnes Makowski, also of Toronto, Ont., will be the Canadian medical staff onsite. Andrea Derby of Windsor, Ont., Jean Senft of West Vancouver, B.C., and Benoit Lavoie of Baie St-Paul, Que., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

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

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT 2016 ISU WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Patrick Chan 25 Toronto, Ont. Granite Club Kathy Johnson
Mens Nam Nguyen 17 Toronto, Ont. Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club Brian Orser / Ernest Pryhitka
Ladies Alaine Chartrand 19 Prescott, Ont. Nepean Skating Club Michelle Leigh / Brian Orser
Ladies Gabrielle Daleman 18 Newmarket, Ont. Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club Lee Barkell / Brian Orser
Pair Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford 30/31 Lively, Ont. / Balmertown, Ont. CPA Saint-Léonard / CPA Saint-Léonard Richard Gauthier / Bruno Marcotte / Sylvie Fullum
Pair Lubov Ilyushechkina / Dylan Moscovitch 24/31 Moscow, Russia / Toronto, Ont. Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club / Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club Lee Barkell / Bryce Davison / Tracy Wilson
Pair Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro 23/24 St. Catharines, Ont. / Sarnia, Ont. Kitchener-Waterloo SC / Point Edward SC Inc. Bruno Marcotte / Richard Gauthier / Sylvie Fullum / Julie Marcotte / Cynthia Lemaire
Ice Dance Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje 26/29 Toronto, Ont. / Waterloo, Ont. Sault FSC / Kitchener-Waterloo SC Angelika Krylova / Pasquale Camerlengo / Shae-Lynn Bourne
Ice Dance Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier 24/24 Toronto, Ont. / Unionville, Ont. Scarboro FSC / Scarboro FSC Carol Lane / Juris Razgulajevs
Ice Dance Élisabeth Paradis / François-Xavier Ouellette 23/24 Loretteville, Que. / Laval, Que. CPA Loretteville / CPA Les Lames d’Argent de Laval Inc. Marie-France Dubreuil / Patrice Lauzon / Romain Haguenauer

Canadian Skaters in Barcelona for ISU Grand Prix Final

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will have five entries at the 2015 ISU Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Barcelona, Spain, taking place from December 9-13, 2015. Canada will have one entry in men’s, two entries in pair, one entry in ice dance and one entry in synchronized skating.

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 Patrick Chan, 24, Toronto, Ont., in men’s, Meagan Duhamel, 30, Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford, 30, Balmertown, Ont., and Julianne Séguin, 19, Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau, 22, Trois-Pistoles, Que., in the pair category, as well as Kaitlyn Weaver, 26, Toronto, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 28, Waterloo, Ont., in ice dance.

For the first time in the event’s history, the ISU Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final will also include synchronized skating. One entry was assigned to each of the top five ranked ISU members in synchronized skating; Canada being represented by Nexxice. The synchronized skating competition will consist of free skating, which will take place on Saturday, December 12, 2015. The teams will not perform a short program.

Earlier this season, Canada qualified one entry, Roman Sadovsky, 16, Vaughan, Ont., to the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final, also taking place in Barcelona, Spain from December 9-13, 2015. Similar to the senior qualification, juniors are assigned two events on the seven-event series, with the top six in each category advancing to the Final.

ISU Senior Grand Prix Final

Three-time World Champion and double Olympic silver medallist (men’s and team) Patrick Chan, 24, Toronto, Ont., will represent Canada in men’s. Chan won gold at Skate Canada International and placed fifth in the short program at Trophée Éric Bompard to earn a berth at the ISU Grand Prix Final. The representative of the Granite Club has previously competed at this event six times, medalling four times and winning gold on two occasions (2010 and 2011). He is coached by Kathy Johnson and trains at the Detroit Skating Club.

World champions and Olympic silver medallists (team) Meagan Duhamel, 30, Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford, 30, Balmertown, Ont., are the first of two Canadian pair entries. The representatives of CPA Saint-Léonard have previously competed at this event four times and are the defending champions. This season on the grand prix circuit, they won gold at Skate Canada International and at the NHK Trophy, qualifying in first place for this competition. Duhamel and Radford are coached by Richard Gauthier, Bruno Marcotte, and Sylvie Fullum.

Julianne Séguin, 19, Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau, 22, Trois-Pistoles, Que., are the second Canadian pair entry at the event. Last year, they won gold at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final; this will be their first time competing in this event at the senior level. The representatives of CPA Longueuil and CPA Chambly won bronze at Skate America and placed third in the short program at the Trophée Éric Bompard to qualify for this competition. Séguin and Bilodeau are coached by Josée Picard in Chambly, Que.

Nexxice.

Nexxice

Two time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver, 26, Toronto, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 28, Waterloo, Ont., will be the Canadian entry in ice dance. This will be their fifth time competing at this event and they are the defending champions. Weaver and Poje won gold at Skate Canada International and the Rostelecom Cup to qualify first for this competition. The representatives of Sault FSC and Kitchener-Waterloo SC are coached by Angelika Krylova, Pasquale Camerlengo and Shae-Lynn Bourne in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Two-time world champions, Nexxice, will be the Canadian entry in synchronized skating. The nine-time consecutive Canadian champions most recently won the 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships. Representing the Burlington Skating Centre, Nexxice is coached by Shelley Simonton Barnett and Anne Schelter.

ISU Junior Grand Prix Final

Roman Sadovsky Junior Grand Prix gold.

Roman Sadovsky

Roman Sadovsky, 16, Vaughan, Ont., will be Canada’s sole entry in men’s. Earlier this season, he won gold at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Slovakia and bronze at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Poland. Last season he placed fifth at this event. Sadovsky is coached by Tracey Wainman at the YSRA Winter Club.

Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada High Performance Director, will be the Canadian team leader at the event. Dr. Ghislaine Robert of Montreal, Que., and physiotherapist Agnes Makowski of Toronto, Ont., will be the Canadian medical staff onsite. Diane Kamagianis of Mission, Ont., Leanna Caron of Timmins, Ont., and Jeff Lukasik of Calgary, Alta., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

Emma Bowie, Skate Canada Communications Manager, will be the media contact at the event. To arrange onsite interviews please contact her by email at [email protected].

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

 

 

 

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT THE 2015 ISU SENIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL

Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Patrick Chan 24 Toronto, Ont. Granite Club Kathy Johnson
Pair Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford 30/30 Lively, Ont. / Balmertown, Ont. CPA Saint-Léonard / CPA Saint-Léonard Richard Gauthier / Bruno Marcotte / Sylvie Fullum
Pair Julianne Séguin / Charlie Bilodeau 19/22 Longueuil, Que. / Trois-Pistoles, Que. CPA Longueuil / CPA Chambly Josée Picard
Ice Dance Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje 26/28 Toronto, Ont. / Waterloo, Ont. Sault FSC / Kitchener-Waterloo SC Angelika Krylova / Pasquale Camerlengo / Shae-Lynn Bourne
Synchronized Skating Nexxice N/A N/A Burlington Skating Centre Shelley Simonton Barnett / Anne Schelter

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT THE 2015 ISU JUNIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL

Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Roman Sadovsky 16 Vaughan, Ont. YRSA Winter Club Tracey Wainman

World champs! Duhamel and Radford complete perfect season

SHANGHAI – Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won Canada’s first world pairs figure skating title in 14 years on Thursday to cap a perfect season.

The Canadians posted the top score in both the short skate and Thursday’s free program, finishing with a total of 221.53 points, a personal best score. Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China won the silver medal at 214.12 and their compatriots Pang Qing and Tong Jian got the bronze with 212.77.

‘’The dream has become a reality,’’ said Radford. ‘’We had a little error at the start of the program but we recovered and fought till the end.

‘’We are so excited and proud of ourselves. You never know if you’ll be able to stand on top of a world podium no matter how hard you work.’’

This is Canada’s first victory in the pairs event at worlds since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won gold in 2001.

Thursday’s victory capped a perfect season for Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont. They won three Grand Prix events including the Grand Prix Final as well as the Four Continents championships and Canadian championships.

Duhamel left the ice unsure how the judges would score their program.

‘’All I knew is that we had given everything we had,’’ she said. ‘’Ironically this season we wanted to put the focus on enjoying our skating and we started to win.’’

World junior silver medallists Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., were eighth and first-year partners Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto 13th.

“It’s our first international competition at the senior level and we are proud of our performances,” said Séguin. ‘’We reached our goals and learned a lot.’’

In women’s competition after the short program, Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is 10th and Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., 21st.

Russians Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Elena Radionova are 1-2.

“It was quite the experience,” said Chartrand celebrating her 19th birthday. “I had a good skate and to get close to my personal best at worlds is very satisfying.”

Daleman dislocated her knee two weeks ago.

“That wasn’t a good skate,” she said. “I was proud though that I fought through it and I know I can get it back together for the free skate.”

Competition continues Friday with the men’s short and free dance featuring Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., who are second after Wednesday’s short dance.

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/wc2015/index.htm

Strong Canadian Bond between Duhamel/Radford and Weaver/Poje heading into the World Championships

Fate and destiny have bought Canada’s top two upwardly mobile duos to much the same place, on the same path, so much so, it’s almost chilling to behold.

Never have Canadian doublets been in such step as pair skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and their ice dancing counterparts Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

At every bend this season, they have been matching steps to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships where both are favoured to win gold. And it would be a first if they did. Although Canadian skaters have won double-gold at world championships before (Donald Jackson and Maria and Otto Jelinek in 1962, Kurt Browning and Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler in 1993, and Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in 2012), it’s never happened to two Canadian twosomes.

Partway through the season, both noticed the similarity of their journeys. “After the NHK Trophy, we had both won the event, and we looked at each other and said: ‘Wait a second. We’re the exact same right now. We’re three for three;” Weaver said.

Last fall, Duhamel and Radford and Weaver and Poje both scored victories in early season internationals in Barrie, Ont. and Obertsdorf, Germany for win No. 1. Afterwards, they never competed apart. They were assigned to the same Grand Prix events, and swept them all. Then they both won gold at the Grand Prix Final (four for four); gold at the Canadian championships (five for five); then gold at the Four Continents Championships (six for six.). In Shanghai, China next week, they’ll go for seven, a lucky number that signifies divine perfection, completeness, something that is finished.

Both didn’t have their best Olympics in Sochi last February. Both realized that they had to do their jobs on their own terms, for the joy of it. Not training in a relaxed way (“We’re exhausted after every practice,” Weaver said), but shutting out the distractions of opinion and result.

“We both feel the same pressure,” Weaver said. “To have someone else to share that with, not only with your partner, but another team altogether, has been really fun and enlightening.”

“I feel like we are sharing this special journey with them,” said Duhamel, who will room with Weaver in Shanghai. “I think we share a really special energy between the four of us.”

In Barcelona, Duhamel and Weaver started a tradition together: finding a yoga class when they first get to an event. The texts fly back and forth. Last Monday, Weaver texted Duhamel: “Last Monday of the regular season of training!”

“Yay,” Duhamel said in return. “She’s always checking up on me to see how things are going.”

They find that they share the same feelings, the same trouble getting their feet under them after a trip, the same jetlag, the same ease that things have settled back to normal at the same time. “Every time she texts me about something, we’re both feeling the same way, or our energies are the same,” Duhamel said.

Ditto for Radford and Poje, who roomed together in Barcelona. “At every competition, I think there is an unspoken connection and feeling because we’re both in the exact same situation,” Radford said. “And it’s comforting and nice to know in those really high intense moments of pressure, when you’re feeling nervous, we have teammates that are in the exact same situation. And they are still alive. And they survived. And they are doing an amazing job. It gives us confidence to know we are going through the same situation with some of our best friends.”

It’s not as if they are forged from the same pieces of clay. They are in different disciplines for Pete’s sake: pairs with their fearlessness, ice dancers with their twizzles and emotion. They have decidedly different personalities, all of them.

“What’s neat is that you get to see how someone else handles the situation,” Weaver said. “I really admire Meagan’s tenacity and I love her aggressiveness when she skates. So we can learn from each other in that way.”

If Weaver and Poje arrive to the rink after a pair practice, they’ll ask how Duhamel and Radford fared. They’ll say (so many times this year): “Awesome!”

“And you know what? We can have awesome practices, too,” Weaver said. “They are very confident and we feed off each other in that way. I think we are all very different personalities, but we are able to come together and know that we are all feeling the same thing.”

Case in point: In Barcelona both wanted to do so well and Duhamel was feeling butterflies about it all. Weaver advised her that they do the same program every time, the same quads, the same twizzles, the same lifts. Nothing changes from one competition to another. “We both really kind of hung onto that,” Weaver said. “We have that little reminder for each other every time we go out.” They both won gold at the Grand Prix Final – quite decisively.

And what if they both were to win in Shanghai? The thought gives Weaver chills up her sparkly arm.

“It would be monumental for sure,” Poje said. “It would be such a powerful message for Canada to be able to display those two champions. We both have to go out there and do our jobs and make sure that we put everything we can out there.

“But it’s a wonderful picture to think about and to be able to share the same memories and the same moment with them, coming from the same country and hearing the same anthem. It would be amazing.”

Weaver says she rarely misses watching Duhamel and Radford skate, at least for the long program. She thinks she’s seen them five out of six times, perhaps all of them. “I’m very proud to witness their growth and the incredible strides that they have made as a team, especially with that long, which is gorgeous,” she said.

And what if there is an incredible double-barrelled win, two golds for two teams?

“It would mean a lot of champagne for Team Canada,” Weaver said.

Perfect season continues for Duhamel and Radford

Duhamel and Radford win gold medal at Four Continents Cup.

SEOUL – Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford remained undefeated this season as they won the gold medal in pairs on Saturday at the ISU Four Continents figure skating competition.

Duhamel and Radford produced the best scores in both the short program and free skate to finish with 219.48 points. Three Chinese pairs followed including Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang in second at 201.45 and Qing Pang and Jian Tong in third at 199.99.

‘’I’m really proud we how we handled the pressure,’’ said Radford, from Balmertown, Ont.. ’’We kept it together and still executed a strong performance and what I`m most excited about it that we had such a strong score here and we know we can do that much better. Heading into the world championships we’ll be looking to improve upon that.’’

The Canadians have won their four international assignments so far this season, including the ISU Grand Prix Final, as well as the national title last month.

‘’We’re very proud of our effort here,’’ said Duhamel, from Lively, Ont. ‘’The highlight was landing the throw quad after we had a small mistake on the side-by-side triple Lutz. That’s very difficult to do but we kept our focus and composure and that was very important for the rest of the program.’’

Next assignment for Duhamel and Radford: the world championships in March.

‘’Going into the worlds we’ll be looking to add more sharpness to the technical elements as well as more speed and energy throughout the program,’’ said Duhamel.

Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto were sixth and Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., ninth.

In men’s competition, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan took the gold with Joshua Farris of the U.S. second and Han Yan of China third.

Nam Nguyen of Toronto was 11th, Jeremy Ten of Vancouver 12th and Liam Firus of North Vancouver 14th.

Competition ends Sunday with the women’s free skate.

http://www.isuresults.com/results/fc2015/index.htm

Duhamel and Radford stand first after pairs short program at Four Continents

SEOUL – Recently crowned Grand Prix champions Meaghan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., are in first place after the pairs short program on Thursday at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

Duhamel and Radford, bronze medallists at the last two world championships, totalled a season’s best 75.67 points to place ahead of three Chinese pairs. Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang are second at 69.81 and Wenjing Sui and Cong Han third at 69.19. The Canadian also earned their best ever artistic scores internationally for their short program.

“We are really proud of our skate today, it’s an indication of how we train at home,” said Duhamel. “We weren’t 100 percent comfortable at the start but when the music started our training and muscle memory kicked-in. Our artistic score is something we are always striving to improve upon. The best feeling is when you can keep improving as the season goes on. A good long program here will set us up well for the world championships.”

Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto are sixth at 60.13 and Kirsten-Moore Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., seventh at 59.30.

The standings are tight in ice dancing after the short dance. American couples stand 1-2 with Madison Chock and Evan Bates first at 70.38 and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani second at 69.65.

Three Canadian couples follow: Grand Prix champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., are third at 68.31, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto fourth at 63.45 and Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., fifth at 61.34.

“We felt great heading into the performance,” said Weaver. “We skated really well. We felt it was our best this season in terms of our interpretation and performance quality but the execution of the levels were not up to par. We’re not worried about our position and feel very confident with our free dance for tomorrow.”

After the short program in men’s competition, Jeremy Ten of Vancouver is eighth, Liam Firus of North Vancouver 11th and Nam Nguyen of Toronto14th.

Competition continues Friday with the free dance and women’s short program.

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/fc2015/index.htm

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford set Canadian record in Kingston

KINGSTON, ONTARIO – No surprise here: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pair short program at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships with a wide margin – 14.35 points – something they are not used to.

Their winning score of 79.50 was a Canadian record.

“This relaxed feeling has allowed us to spread our wings and enjoy our skating and if we can keep building it, then we can keep on improving,” Radford said. “For us, as long as we can keep on improving, we’ll keep on going.”

They have learned that it’s not wise to get complacent about a big lead. They had one at NHK, went into the free in a rather nonchalant manner and as soon as the music started, their muscles just did not respond.

The most interesting battle was the one between two new teams formed by Duhamel and Radford’s toughest competitors over the past several years: Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.

Moore-Towers decided she wanted to skate for two more quadrennials and hooked up with Michael Marinaro. Moscovitch went to Russia to find Lubov Ilyushechkina, who had last skated in Canada at the 2010 Skate Canada International ironically in Kingston, Canada. There is a video out there somewhere of Ilyushechkina declaring that she loved Canada and would love to live here.

She had her homecoming on Friday night in Kingston. When Ilyushechkina and Moscovitch took to the ice, the crowd cheered noisily. And every time they landed a throw or a jump, the crowd cheered more. With this wind beneath their wings, they finished second with 65.15 points.

Moore-Towers and Marinaro ended fourth with 61.08 points, saying they felt a bit stiff and nervous. What were they most proud of? Moore-Towers seemed to say it was about the way they handled the “awkward” situation of being on the ice with an old partner. All week, they have been on the same training session together.

“It is difficult to compete against an old partner,” she said. “I think that all four members of us have done a pretty good job of it. I’m happy. They look happy.
“We’re just kind of hoping for people to adapt to that and learn that’s the way it is now. And it’s the way it’s going to be. We can be happy for everybody.”

In third place are new seniors Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, the Junior Grand Prix champions, who had to adapt their routine to match the senior requirements. They added a triple Salchow instead of a double Lutz, but the entrance into the new jump was on a different pattern. Seguin put a hand down on the throw, but otherwise they sung, earning 61.47 points.

Bilodeau admitted he felt a responsibility to do well here after such a strong season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. “It was a good beginning,” he said.

In ice dancing, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won the short dance with 76.26 points, 6.23 points ahead of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

The big race was for third spot and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam got it with 64.87 points, 3.37 points ahead of new international sensation Elisabeth Paradis and Francois-Xavier Ouellette.

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/

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