BY SCOTT HADDOW
Meagan Duhamel will not let the disappointment of not making the 2006 Olympic Winter Games throw her off her game.
Instead, she will use her energy on making Team Canada for 2010, when the world's largest sporting event takes place on Canadian soil in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.
Duhamel has finished her 2005-06 season, and despite losing the chance to represent Canada in Turin, she had a strong showing at the Four Continents event to finish her year.
"I performed more consistently this season than I have in the past," said the Walden native. "I reached most of my goals, except for the ultimate one - making the Olympics. I didn't skate well at nationals, finishing fourth, and the Canadian team only took the top two skaters to Italy. I was disappointed because I knew that second spot could have been mine if I skated well. I was able to go to the Four Continents championship and finished fifth. That
was a huge accomplishment for me because it was the biggest competition I've ever been to."
The 2010 Olympics will always be on her mind.
"Not making it this year is only going to make me work harder for 2010," said Duhamel. "I have struggled at nationals every year, but I did win medals internationally this season, so the potential to go to Torino was there for me. It only makes me want to come back stronger next season and beyond. The opportunity to go in 2010 will be there in the future and I want to be there."
Duhamel raised her world rankings by her solid performance at the Four Continents.
"There were skaters from North America, Africa, Asia and Australia and some of them were going to the Olympics," said the 20-year-old. "It was nice to compete against them and raise my world ranking to 36 overall and that includes juniors and seniors. I really moved up this year."
Duhamel has learned a lot about herself in the last year.
"I learned what I can really achieve when I push myself," said the skater. "I never worked as hard as I did this past year. I reached so many little things that were a big step up for me, including my attitude at competitions and practices."
Duhamel's coach, Lee Barkell of the Mariposa International School of Skating in Barrie, was impressed with Duhamel's efforts on and off the ice.
"Meagan had a really good year when you put it into perspective," said Barkell. "She had great results in both pairs and singles. She has really matured as a person in the last two years and becoming more confident in her skating. It's only her second season competing at the senior level and the results were good. She's capable of a lot more."
Duhamel was back home recently. She was performing at the Walden Winter Carnival in a show called Blast from the Past.
Even though it's her off-season, Duhamel will remain busy, performing at nine more shows and putting on a seminar in Saskatoon.
"I am really busy and there's no real time off at this level," said Duhamel. "It's always nice to come home and perform. It's good because a lot of these local skaters don't get to see this level of skating often, so it's good for them to see it."
Duhamel skated with Jamie Forsythe, as her regular partner, Ryan Arnold, was unable to attend. Forsythe, who was third at the junior nationals this year sees Duhamel as the consummate professional.
"I can honestly say I don't know anyone who works harder and is more committed than Meagan," said Forsythe. "Doing both pairs and singles at an
elite level is just amazing. I couldn't imagine doing it, so I give her all the credit in the world."