Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford win bronze at figure skating worlds
Canadian skaters Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel compete in the pairs free skating event at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ont. on Friday, March 15, 2013. (Craig Glover/QMI Agency)
All Meagan Duhamel could see in the glint of her bronze medal was redemption.
Three years ago, she and former partner Craig Buntin finished third at the 2010 national figure skating championships in London.
It wasn't enough for a ticket to the Olympics.
"It was the lowest point in my life," said the 27-year-old from Lively, Ont., near Sudbury. "Rock bottom. Three years later, it's the happiest bronze medal I had in my life."
Duhamel and Eric Radford, their partnership forged two months after the failed Vancouver bid, became the first Canadians on the pairs podium at the world championships in five years Friday at Budweiser Gardens.
This ice no longer haunts her.
Neither does the nagging feeling some head-scratching judging cost them a silver-medal upgrade and teammates Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who finished fourth, the bronze. Canada hasn't had two pairs on the world podium at the same time since 1960 in Vancouver.
Duhamel and Radford, second after the short program, finished with 130.95 points for a combined 204.56. Four-time world champs Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, who surrendered their title to dominant Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov (225.71), finished one point up on the Canadians despite an error-filled long program with a dearth of triple jumps, but a surprising high component total.
"This bronze medal is golden to us," Duhamel said. "I don't think we feel anything but joy about it and for Canada to be third and fourth, that means we qualified a third team for the Olympics next year and that's so important. There were a lot of people watching at home waiting to see how we did and we're so happy (two) of our friends will join us in Sochi next year."
Some fans in the crowd booed at the Germans' marks. It forced Duhamel and Radford to sweat it out behind the scenes -- she stared at the TV screen and he sat in the bathroom -- but none of the top couples put together a clean program.
"I think we were having a heart attack watching (Alex) Smirnov and (Yuko) Kavaguti (who sunk to seventh after nearly falling into the crowd on a lift)," Duhamel said. "We were sitting in the kiss-and-cry saying, 'Is that enough? Is that enough?' We don't know and, then we had to sit and watch, which was stressful.
"We had a nice moment after we knew (it was bronze)."
Szolkowy admitted Wednesday his and Savchenko's marks in the short program, though a season's best, didn't feel like it. He agreed there were a couple mistakes in their long, but didn't suggest they didn't deserve their placement.
"The season was quite tough for us,"said the 33-year-old, the oldest skater here in London. "We had this long break after our first competition at Skate Canada (because Savchenko developed a sinus infection). We had to recover and to find the rhythm to skate here and perform (well). We had four competitions this season and that's not much.
"At the end, to have a silver medal here, I think it's good."
The Germans came into this week winners in four of the five previous worlds. They set the bar high, but they have opened the door for the Canadians.
"Last year, we left the world championships (after finishing fifth) and we said next year, we're going to be on the podium," Duhamel said. "We had a plan, we set a goal, we had a dream and I think for a while, we're the only ones who believed in it, but we did it.
"I think that's the greatest feeling in the world."
"Success is the greatest revenge," Radford said.
Volosozhar and Trankov also celebrated their three-year-old partnership in grand fashion. Bridesmaids the past two worlds, they finally took the big prize less than a year before their home Olympics. There was little doubt who deserved top spot.
"I told Max (at the end) I think we win this competition because we skate very well," Volosozhar said. "It's first gold medal for me. Max had 2005 (the world junior title with Maria Mukhortova) in Kitchener."
"Canada's my country," he quipped.