Duhamel, Radford achieve major milestoneDominant performance helps Canadians earn third Skate Canada crown
Like six-time Canada champion Patrick Chan, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford's free skate on Saturday wasn't their best -- Duhamel took a nasty throw on the quad throw salchow, and the side-by-side triple lutzes were shaky -- but Canada's two-time world champions achieved their biggest goal: landing the throw triple axel in their short program.
They also picked up their third Skate Canada title, finishing with 218.30 points and defeating China's Xiaoyu Yu and Hau Zhang by more than 16 points.
"The focus was the short program, and there was so much emotion when they landed (the axel), to come back down back down was tough," Bruno Marcotte, the team's coach (and Duhamel's husband) said. "The next time they do a short like this they'll be expecting it a little more, so it will be easier to manage."
Saturday's program was far from disastrous. After falling on the quad throw, they did three fine lifts, plus a solid throw triple flip.
"We're really happy with how we fought back and finished the program strong, despite the fall," Radford said.
"It was a major step up from Finlandia Trophy, where we missed all four of our risk elements," Duhamel said. "Our main objective was to nail the short and as we move on to NHK we have that in our pocket, so we're looking to pick up that long as well."
The Chinese skaters, who paired up just five months ago, had an impressive free skate, although their music -- selections from Emil von Sauer's 'Piano Concerto No. 1' -- was a bit monotonous.
They nailed a huge opening triple twist, followed by triple toe-double toe combinations and two big triple throws, plus a loop and salchow. Their biggest weakness was their spins, and the program earned 132.65 points.
"Every day we train for three to four sessions and do off-ice training," Zhang said. "Obviously, the result today has come from our hard work the past five months. Although we had two not-so-perfect elements, our next event is Cup of China, and I hope we will show people an even better program."
Zhang, who executed both quad throws and quad twists with previous partners, said there were no plans to add quad elements to his programs with Yu this season.
"We are trying to do our current elements and jumps clean," he said. "Maybe we will put (side-by-side) triple lutzes into the program."
"For the near future, we just work on quality and performance," Yu said.
Canada's silver medalists Liubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch edged U.S. pair Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier for the bronze medal despite two falls from Ilyushechkina, on a throw triple lutz and triple toe loop. Ilyushechkina's positions in the lifts were superb, and they hit a strong throw triple loop. They finished with 190.22 points.
"We were tentatively planning on doing (throw quad lutz) here, but the whole program wasn't ready enough to put it in," Moscovitch said. "We did a nice one in practice on Thursday. We're hoping to insert it into the program at some point this season, but we don't have a set date yet. When it's ready, it will go in."
Denney and Frazier had jump trouble as well, with Denney two-footing a (downgraded) triple salchow and singling an intended double axel. The rest of their free, choreographed by Marina Zoueva to the Somewhere in Time soundtrack, was solid, including a strong triple twist, throw triple loop and salchow and fine spins. They placed fourth with 188.23 points, a little below their score from last week's Skate America, where they won the silver medal.
"It was a step in the right direction," Rockne Brubaker, who coaches the pair in Chicago, said. "Each competition has gotten better, a little bit stronger. The short program here they missed a couple of levels and had a mistake on the jump, but the score about the same as at Skate America. So I always look at the direction the team is headed in, and all things considered, they've done a remarkable job."