It’s a shocking ride to go from a beautiful high to a stumbly low.
Two-time world pair champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are trying to figure it out, how and why they fell to a troubled third place in the free skate at Autumn Classic on a blistering hot Saturday in a cold rink.
It’s Olympic year. Ouch.
And they had performed as if they were in a dream in the short program, which they had won the previous day.
Duhamel says she’s confused at their performance, in which she fell on a triple Lutz, a triple Salchow, and a throw quad Salchow and just to add misery to the load, they slipped quite out of synch on a side by side spin.
Think of the energy it took Duhamel to pick herself up three times, and catch up to her taller partner.
”I feel like the times we’ve had to perform it in the last month, it’s all felt so difficult,” Duhamel said. “Whereas the short has just felt as light as air and super easy.”
Radford said they’ve been having troubles trying to translate stellar training efforts of their free skate to Muse into competition success. “In the last little bit, we’ve done five run-throughs and to be honest they’ve all been like this,” he said. “ Just lots of misses. And lots of bizarre misses.
“If you see us practice, you never really see us do stuff like that.”
They are puzzled, both of them. “We need to go back and make some changes so we can access it,” Radford said.
If they were to mess up once in a while, no big deal. But nightmares keep happening.
They shown the program in front of judges three times, once at a training camp, once in front of judge monitors and here. Each time, with somebody watching, and they’ve put the program all together in once piece, everything goes pear-shaped.
“Things just go so haywire,” Radford said.
Musing, Radford said: “Good thing it happened here and not during the season. We’ve got time to figure things out. We’ll give it another go at Skate Canada.”
Another thing: Radford says they always learn so much when things don’t go well. “We have a lot of experience to draw on in that regard,” he said.
No, they don’t feel like all is lost or that it’s all over. This performance was only the beginning. They have work to do. They take comfort in the thought that during the 2010 Olympic year, German team Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, fell afoul of their long program too, changed it mid-season from the dirge You’ll Never Walk Alone to Out of Africa, which earned them a bronze medal.
The idea of changing their routine came up in conversation very quickly (“At this point, we’re open to anything,” Radford said.). But then again, he thinks it’s too soon to jump to that conclusion. “I think we need to give it more time to develop,” he said. Maybe they need to change their layout patterns, maybe even choreography. Maybe they just need to revisit their strategy, he said.
They’ve had nothing but good memories of their Muse routine that they used for their first world title in 2014-2015.
Interestingly enough, they feel that their successful short program has a much slower pace. They have discovered a smoother style. Their lines also match better.
And when they did Muse for the first time “we were younger,” Radford said. They are different skaters now.
Perhaps they were trying to take the feeling of the short and relate it to the long. Perhaps the two just don’t mix, like oil and water. Radford seemed to be thinking out loud.
The fall on the triple Lutz was just a freaky thing. They had changed their entrance into the jump, putting it straight at an end, rather than in a corner. “It’s very uncharacteristic of us. Even if we do a very bad one, it’s never like that.”
Little miscues just piled up. Radford said he missed a little step going into the twist. “Like a brain fart,” he said.
“But then little things start to change. And when we’re not completely comfortable patterns, you just get a little tight and things start to get a little further away from you.”
It’s a mystery and a puzzle. And it’s time for some soul searching. They’ve done it before. They’ll do it again.