Ice Network

Duhamel, Radford win fourth straight Canadian title

Silver medalists Iliushechkina, Moscovitch finish more than 40 points back
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Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won their fourth straight Canadian pairs title by a wide margin, more than 40 points ahead of silver medalists Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch. -Getty Images

"Winning nationals never gets old. Even if we were to skate for another 10 years and we won every time, I'd still be just as happy," Eric Radford said shortly after he and partner Meagan Duhamel won their fourth consecutive Canadian pairs title.

The past two years they faced a huge challenge for gold, but this year the margin of victory was more than 40 points over silver medalists Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch at the 2015 Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

"Coming into this competition, we knew that it would be a little bit less stressful than the last two national championships," Radford said. "Meagan and I have experienced a couple of times where we have relaxed too much in some of the smaller competitions we've been at, and we haven't had very good skates because of that. So, we really wanted to find the balance to put enough pressure on ourselves that we can fire ourselves up and still have a really good competition. I think we achieved that here.

"Along with that, we've shown the programs are still growing and that there's still more room to grow, especially in the long program."

Although the silver and bronze medalists from the past two Canadian championships are no longer skating together, Duhamel said the level of skating among the seven pairs competing was strong.

"In skating, literally anything can happen, so, as much of a for-sure bet as we were, there's always that chance of 'what if,'" she said. "We really knew we could skate better than we did at the Grand Prix Final. Our goal was to perform a better short and a better long than we did in Barcelona.

"The pairs competition was so good here," she added. "The energy was great. We had four amazing long programs in that final flight."

Duhamel and Radford, both 29, achieved a record-high score in the short program. It was another step in the pair's season, in which they won their first Grand Prix Final title. The whole season has been focused on being themselves and keeping their competition energy strong.

"That's been the key to our success and the key to our growth this season," Radford said. "Keeping the energy between Meagan and I, staying relaxed and letting ourselves perform and have a great skate."

Duhamel said she was nervous during the day and missing her fiancé, Bruno Marcotte, a member of their coaching team, who was at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships with Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran.

They will take a couple days off as Radford celebrates his 30th birthday on Tuesday. They will probably compete at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul in February.

"We'll use it as an opportunity to go out there and have a really great performance, get the throw quad out there, maybe even a little bit better than it was here," Radford said. "Heading into worlds, the biggest thing is to keep the same mindset we carried throughout the season.

"When Meagan and I go out and it's just us and we're only thinking about us, we have a great skate," he added.

The bronze medal went to Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau.

Radford also shared a few thoughts on the passing of Canadian skating legend Toller Cranston, who died today at age 65.

"I watched a video of him today," Radford said. "I watched him do a short program in 1975. I was so amazed. Even today, there isn't anybody that really quite has that spark.

"The way he moved. He did these big, high leg kicks. He did a lot of things I had never seen before. That was 40 years ago. It was just incredible.

"The whole skating world, we're sending the best to his family. It's sad to lose somebody who shaped and transformed skating the way he did."