Figure Skating

Greg Hughes - Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 09:59 ET

Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford lead Canadian hopes in pairs figure skating

Russians dominate the short program

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished fifth in their pairs short program. (Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are holding a convincing lead in pairs figure skating going into Wednesday's free skate, winning the short program handily with a final score of 84.17. 

The clear favourite to win the gold medal in pairs on Wednesday, the duo skated a near-perfect routine in front of a wildly supportive hometown crowd. 

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy from Germany, also looking strong in their short program, came in second with a score of 79.64. The duo performed a routine inspired by the Pink Panther. 

"We wanted to show that it was easy," Savchenko said. "We skated it for the fans. When you're having fun doing your routine and the audience goes with it, it just makes you feel good and less nervous."

"We had a good feeling, indeed the most important thing was to skate clean," Szolkowy added.

"We're glad that we did all our elements since we want to fight for the gold. The points don't matter for now. Let's see what comes out in the end."

Third-place went to another Russian duo of Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, scoring 75.21 on their routine. 

Canadians still in medal hunt 

All three Canadian pairs have advanced to Wednesday's free skate finale. 

Meagan Duhamel of St-Leonard, Que., and Eric Radford of Toronto finished their short program as the highest ranking Canadians of the night, scoring 72.21 and finishing in fifth place. The duo enjoyed a solid routine with a minor mistake on a triple lutz and a small stumble by Duhamel mid-way through.  

Duhamel said it wasn't easy for her and Radford to skate right after eventual third-place finishers Stolbova and Klimov.

"It was very difficult to skate after the hometown team," Duhamel said after the event. "It sounds like a hockey game out there. We made some minor mistakes, but I'm proud of what we were able to do in that circumstance."

Radford, who composed the routine's music, said he "enjoyed every minute" of his short program experience.

"Being out there, every moment is an amazing and unforgettable memory."

Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto placed sixth in their short program, scoring 70.92. The couple skated a solid routine as the final performers of the evening. 

"I think the real win tonight was how comfortable we were out there," Moore-Towers said. 

Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers of Virden, Man., in their first Olympic Games, skated to a score of 58.97.

The couple's training has been hampered all season by injuries, with Lawrence saying she is about "80 per cent good" in her recovery from a leg injury. Lawrence touched down twice during the couple's routine, which led to their 13th place finish. 

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