For Canadian Pairs Champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, an undefeated 2014–15 season was a remarkable payoff for a lifetime of hard work and commitment to skating.
Winning gold at the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships cemented their place in skating history and showed the world how far hard work and dedication can get you.
“For the rest of our career, we will always be able to be introduced as World Champions,” said Radford. “I’d like to be remembered for that quirky balance Meagan and I have between her being so effervescent and extroverted and me being quiet and an introvert. Also, being the team that wasn’t ever given anything and literally hard work paid off and success was achieved.”
Amazingly, the duo entered the season with winning far from their minds. Having spent years focused on pleasing the judges and officials, when they decided to continue competing they said they would put themselves first. Each day they came to the rink intent on enjoying their training. Radford describes it as “a calm focus and calm hard work.”
“That positivity is what carried us through the season and helped us win each competition,” said Radford. “It’s so satisfying.”
“Because we’ve been through so much in order to get to this point, it’s even more special,” Duhamel said. “We know the hardships, the failures and the struggles, so it makes success that much sweeter. It is beyond my wildest dreams that I could be World Champion.”
It’s also been a monumental year on personal fronts for the four-time Canadian Champions. This June, Duhamel married longtime boyfriend Bruno Marcotte, who is one of their coaches. She said she and Marcotte have no trouble balancing their working relationship and personal life. At the rink, Marcotte’s role as a coach takes priority. Away from the ice, they enjoy their lives together—playing on a baseball team, cycling, riding their Vespa, playing tennis and exploring Montreal’s restaurants.
Radford made international news by coming out as gay and sharing his story with OutSports.com, a Web site that covers LGBT issues in sports. He spoke about his longtime partner, who has a teenage daughter that Radford is helping raise. For his thoughtful openness, Icenetwork.com named Radford its Person of the Year.
“Ever since I told my story, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” Radford said. “I’ve had so many amazing messages. People I don’t even know writing me and saying thank you. Knowing that my story has reached these people and is making a difference, it goes beyond my success as a figure skater. It is me helping to make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Duhamel and Radford’s decision to continue competing came after achieving their shared lifelong goal of competing at the Olympic Winter Games. Their time in Sochi, Russia provided a sweet payoff for years of hard work and perseverance. Stepping onto Olympic ice for their first practice session was a joyful moment in their lives and proof that not giving up during times of disappointment and frustration is the path to success in life.
As Radford stood rinkside, he could see the Olympic rings at center ice. “I jumped up and down like a little kid,” he said. Then they stepped onto the ice and skated across the rings.
“The Olympics became real,” Duhamel said. “That was the most amazing moment.”
There were more amazing moments to come. Radford compares entering Fisht Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony to the exhilaration of a roller coaster. Hearing the roar of the crowd was a rush.
As do most skaters, they dreamed of skating a perfect program at the Olympics, and they did just that in the short program of the team competition. Making it all the sweeter was the historical significance. Their program was skated to “Tribute,” original music composed by Radford, the first time an Olympic skater competed to his own composition.
Friends and family were able to join Duhamel and Radford in Sochi to share the Olympic experience. When the pair competition was done, they soaked up the Olympic atmosphere—attending speed skating, ski jumping, hockey and bobsled and making new friends at Canada House.
“What I’m the most proud of is that I’ve achieved what I’ve dreamed of achieving and nobody can take it away from me,” said Radford, who got a tattoo of the Olympic rings to commemorate his journey. “When I am 80, I will still be able to think back on my skating career and feel satisfaction.
“Knowing through all the ups and downs—there were so many times where I could have given up, but I didn’t—I went for it and I made it happen,” he added. “That gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment that I will carry with me regardless of all the ups and downs that are to come in life.”
Each has passionate interests away from skating. For Radford, it is music. He was the kid whose mother never had to remind him to practice piano.
“My piano is like my baby,” he said. “As big as skating is in my life, music, composing and playing music are also a huge part of my life.”
When his competitive days in skating wind down, Radford plans to get a degree in music and pursue composing for film and other media. He wrote “Tribute” in 2006 following the death of his then-coach, Paul Wirtz, from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Together with choreographer Julie Marcotte, they chose the theme for the short program—a tribute to everyone who helped them along their path in skating. Renowned arranger Louis Babin orchestrated the composition.
Since the Olympics, “Tribute” has been helping the fight against cancer. Radford partnered with the Canadian Cancer Society. “Tribute” is available for download at www.cancer.ca/EricRadford, and fifty percent of all net sales will be directed to support the work of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Duhamel’s off-ice passion is health and nutrition since becoming a vegan in 2008. She has studied holistic/naturopathic health and become a certified holistic nutritionist.
“I want to increase my work in the nutritional field, particularly with athletes, but other people as well,” said Duhamel. “I understand everybody needs something different in their lives and in their bodies. It’s very individualistic. I love the idea of figuring out nutritionally what’s going to make you feel the best.”
Since she and Marcotte got a dog in 2014, Duhamel has also become interested in opening a doggie day care/dog walking service and running a rescue shelter.
In the spring of 2015, Duhamel and Radford toured with Stars on Ice Canada for the third time. Not only does it provide a time to celebrate with their World and Olympic teammates and other Canadian skating legends, it also helped hone their performance skills, which they’ll carry into their competitive programs.
“It helps our skating so much, especially our ease of performance,” said Duhamel.
Beyond the results, they feel their skating quality has reached a new level. They introduced the throw quadruple Salchow to their repertoire. They promise it will be more consistent for the 2015–16 season, and they are working on a new, landmark element.
“I hope we’ve set a new standard in pairs skating with pushing the technical envelope,” Duhamel said. “It’s time now people pushed further and tried new jumps, new throws and new innovative skating styles.”
No matter how stressed he is at a competition, Radford always takes a moment to be thankful of what he and Duhamel have accomplished.
“Meagan and I are in a sweet spot right now,” he said. “We love to skate. We’re still improving. We love every minute of what we do.”
You can follow their journey on Twitter. Duhamel is @mhjd_85 and Radford is @Rad85E.
HERE COME THE CHAMPIONS!
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