Duhamel and Radford find their feet in pair short program

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were on a mission.

Mission accomplished, at least part one.

The script was right. They skated last [strains of Chariots of Fire in the background – or maybe Tribute!], and rose to the occasion, in a zone that they’d tried to find all season. And now they are in second place after the short program, behind four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy and ahead of Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov.

Gratifying, since they had finished seventh overall at the Olympics in Sochi.

The Canadian champions’ points – 77.01 – are only about two points away from the champs, from gold, and they defeated the seasoned Germans on the technical mark: 43.66 to 42.90. Of course, their technical content got them there: Duhamel and Radford have the highest base value elements in the entire group (35.70, the Germans 34.30) and 2 ½ points more than the Russians. The Germans can build up GOE like nobody’s business and program components, too, but there the Canadians are, well within reach of a lifetime goal.

Actually, Duhamel and Radford came to the world championships to deliver a clean long program and that is yet to come, but this short program effort is a bonus, a motivator, a step in the right direction. Their score is about four points better than their previous best. Last year’s bronze medalists, they are the only team to attempt side by side triple Lutzes, worth seven points to them.

Savchenko and Szolkowy, out like Pink Panthers again, delivered a huge throw triple flip and triple twist, as is their custom, and got a standing ovation. Szolkowy, who is skating in his final competition, couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

Stolbova and Klimov were athletic and aggressive, and actually got higher program components marks than Duhamel and Radford, but the Canadians outdueled the Russians on the technical side. The Russians are third with 76.15, not quite a point back of them.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who finished fifth at the Olympics, came out smoking, skating with great speed and charm. But when they saw their mark (69.31), their faces fell. “It was a bit lower score than we’ve been getting recently,” she said. “We’ll check a couple of things, but we’re going to go into tomorrow with a positive attitude.” Their personal best is a 71.51 that they earned at Skate America this season. They got 70.92 at the Olympics.

In Japan, they got a level three for their death spiral, while at the Olympics they got only level one. But their triple twist dropped to a level two in Japan, while officials deemed it a level three in Sochi. Otherwise, judges were more reluctant in dishing out their points, shaving off fractions of a point here and there on the GOE of other elements. It all adds up.

The two Chinese teams slotted themselves into fourth and fifth places with Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, the Four Continents champs this year, outpointing their training mates with a score of 72.24. They did lose points on a death spiral and footwork, both level three, but they are driving to get third place here.

Cheng Peng, 16, and Hao Zhang, 29, are less than a point behind them with 71.68. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch were tiny fractions of a point ahead of both of the Chinese on program component marks.

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