BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel’s Feb. 12 free skate score of 127.32 was enough to earn them a season’s best but, combined with their short program score for a total of 199.53, they ended up 16 points short of earning a spot on the podium.
They headed into Wednesday’s free skate in 5th with several powerhouse teams ahead of them. It would have taken a mere flawless performance to get there. After a couple uncharacteristic slips in the latter part of the program, the opportunity to medal slipped out of their hands.
The duo wound up with a top ten finish in 7th place, while their Canadian teammates, rivals and good friends Dylan Moscovitch and Kirsten Moore-Towers – who are normally just behind them – placed 5th overall with a combined score of 202.10. The third Canadian pairs team of Rudi Swiegers and Paige Lawrence ended 14th with a combined score of 161.98.
The build-up to Radford and Duhamel’s individual performances certainly created a major buzz, though. Several Red Lake area residents decorated their windows, yards and cars with Canadian flags and Olympic rings, and over 200 people packed into the gymnasium at Golden Learning Centre, where Radford once went to school, to watch their performances. Fans and supporters from across the country and the world rallied to support them, especially since they helped secure the silver medal for Canada in the first ever team figure skating event just days before.
Facebook, of course, flooded with messages of hope, encouragement, and congratulations.
“Congatulations on your Olympic performance, Eric! We were watching you and Meagan in the school for every skate. You two are huge role models for many people of all ages across Northern Ontario and everyone is incredibly proud of your accomplishments. Enjoy your medal!” one supporter posted on Radford’s Facebook wall.
In the end, the Russian pairs dominated the podium with the powerhouse duo of Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar earning a combined score of 236.86 for gold; Russians Fedor Klimov and Ksenia Stolbova earning silver with 218.68; and bronze for the Germans, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkovy, with 215.78.
Despite being disappointed with he and Duhamel’s performance, especially since they admittedly didn’t skate to their potential during Wednesday’s free skate, Radford says the support he’s received has created one of the best moments of his life and he’ll be looking back on the Sochi Olympics with a lot more happiness than disappointment.