With a seventh straight Canadian pairs title safely secured, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are focused entirely on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea.
Given what has been an interesting past six to eight months — changing coaches, opting to re-introduce their long program from two years ago just over a month before nationals — one can surmise the tandem is only too happy to look forward rather than back.
Still, according to Duhamel, in the days leading up to their annual trek to the Canadian Championships (the Lively native has participated each and every year since 2001), there was a sense of inevitability to the changes.
“When the writing is on the wall to do something, most of the time, it’s pretty obvious,” she said. “There were enough signs pointing us in this direction.”
And while some on the outside looking in may have questioned the timing, the two folks most affected by the moves stood firm in their resolve that they could overcome.
“It wasn’t that drastic of a change, but it was enough to spice things up and refresh things,” said Duhamel. “As a whole, we feel more content in our training environment, more positive in our training environment.”
Posting a combined score of 234.55 in national pairs competition, the soon-to-be two-time Olympians have established themselves as clearly in the medal hunt, an encouraging sign of their recent progress.
“Our program component score is higher this year, so far, than at any time last year,” said Duhamel. “The thing with the Olympics that makes it similar to some competitions is the high-profile, high-pressure that goes with it. In the past, throughout our career together, we’ve always thrived and had our best performances at the most intense competitions.”
Of course, that all comes to an end, very soon. Duhamel and Radford have already signaled their intentions to wrap up their amateur skating careers at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season. They will move on to the professional ranks, a lasting legacy behind them.
“It’s been eight years now that we’ve been doing a side-by-side triple lutz, which is the hardest jump in pairs skating,” Duhamel explained. “For 20 or 30 years, everybody in pairs skating did the same thing. There was always a side-by-side triple toe, a throw triple salchow and a triple twist. I would like to think that Eric and I really helped evolve the technical risk taking of pairs skating.”
And while Duhamel and Radford look ahead to PyeongChang, Greater Sudbury awaits to see what the Nickel City's skating sweetheart and her talented partner will deliver in the their final Winter Olympic Games.
Randy Pascal is a freelance sportswriter in Greater Sudbury. He is also at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, serving as a volunteer hockey timekeeper.