Figure Skating

The Canadian Press - Friday Oct. 25, 2013 16:30 ET

Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford 1st after pairs short at Skate Canada

Canadian duo wins with score of 69.57

Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada compete in the pairs short program at Skate Canada International in Saint John, N.B. on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Skating to music he wrote after the death of his coach, Eric Radford said he felt chills in the opening moments of Friday's program.

By the end, he and partner Meagan Duhamel had skated well enough to win the pairs short program at Skate Canada International.

The Canadians scored 69.57 points with their emotional debut of their new short program "Tribute," which Radford — a pianist who studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music — wrote in 2006, the day after his coach Paul Wirtz died of cancer.

"It is a different experience hearing my own music, it just creates a deep centred feeling inside of me. . . it's difficult to put into words," Radford said.

Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek were right behind the Canadians with 69.38, while Sui Wenjing and Han Cong were third with 69.02 at Harbour Station arena.

American Gracie Gold leads after the women's short program, scoring 69.45 points. Julia Lipnitskaia, a 15-year-old from Russia, is second with 66.89, while Japan's Akiko Suzuki scored 65.76 to leave her third.

Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond, who was sidelined for all of September with a foot injury, had an uncharacteristic fall coming out of a double Axel to leave her fifth.

Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was sixth, while Veronik Mallet of Sept-Iles, Que., was eighth.

Making strides

Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., bronze medallists at last spring's world championships, won despite Duhamel stumbling out of her triple Lutz, and putting a hand down on the throw triple Lutz.

Despite leaving considerable room for improvement, the Canadians — Duhamel in a floaty pink dress, and Radford in an understated grey shirt and pants — are way ahead of where they were at this point last season.

"Last year we came to this event, skated a clean short, and got 64, so this shows everything that we've been working towards and improving," Duhamel said. "We started with 64 last season and ended with a 73 at worlds, so this is exactly where we want to be, we want to hit those high 70s as we go into nationals and as we go into the Olympics. I think that it's a good step."

Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers of Kipling, Sask., were sixth, while Margaret Purdy of Strathroy, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., were eighth.

Osmond, meanwhile, had landed three triple jumps and looked poised for a clean program when she stumbled and fell on her side after landing her double Axel.

"I'm not sure what it was, it was probably just my excitement taking over, and thinking 'Oh my god I just did all three of my jumps and now I can just have fun the rest of my program.' As I was extending forward, my feet were just gone from underneath me, and I was like 'Oh no!"'

Osmond maturing

The 17-year-old from Marystown, N.L., had only been back on the ice for three weeks after she was diagnosed with a stress reaction — a precursor to a stress fracture — in late August.

She'd only finally successfully landed her triple jumps last week.

Osmond, who won Skate Canada last year, skated to music from "Sweet Charity," a 1966 Broadway musical about a dancer-for-hire. The teenager looked like one, wearing a black dress with white elbow-length gloves, and her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail.

Osmond and her coach Ravi Walia said going with a more mature look was a measured move in this Olympic season. If she wanted to compete against the world's top women, she has to look like one.

"You want to look like the top skater in the world, you always want to look like you're seasoned out there," Walia said.

Later, Toronto's three-time world champion Patrick Chan was scheduled to make his season debut with his short program, while Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated their short dance.

Skate Canada is second of six stops on figure skating's Grand Prix circuit. The top six entries in each discipline qualify for the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 5-8, in Fukuoka, Japan.

For full results from the official ISU site, click here.

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