Duhamel, Radford have Olympic medal within their grasp

Canadians in search of 1st pairs Olympic medal

Duhamel, Radford have Olympic medal within their grasp
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford performed in the pairs figure skating short program at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday and are in medal contention heading into the free skate. © David J. Phillip/Associated Press

By Pj Kwong, CBC Sports

A lot can happen in the two minutes and fifty seconds it takes to skate a short program.

In my mind, there are some great pair teams vying for the top of the Olympic podium. I love the way 2017 world pairs champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China skate with such authority.

Russian pair skaters Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov have an elegance about them that is undeniable but has been unfortunately under used in their material this season.

Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot from Germany won a decisive victory at the ISU Grand Prix Final in December. They are hoping to make it to the top of the podium that has eluded Aljona in four previous Olympic attempts, three of which were with former partner Robin Szolkowy. 

VIDEO | Duhamel, Radford in podium position

Canadian and two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were counting on the momentum they generated from two solid programs as part of the team event to put them in contention for a medal. The thing that I have always liked about this team is their willingness to go on the record and say their goals out loud. The Olympic podium is one of those goals.

Twenty-two teams started the day and only 16 qualified to skate the free program. There was no doubt any of the contenders would be going through. The big question was which team would step up in the short program?

The short program offered numerous personal-best scores, and the majority of the teams with clean skates.

One of those teams was Sui and Han. Just when I thought I couldn't like this team more, they came up with a performance that was confident, technically superior and artistically beautiful. Sui and Han took the lead with a season-best score of 82.39, and then had to wait through the final group of skaters.

But the bar was set.

Duhamel and Radford skated first in the final group in a performance that I would describe as solid if a bit tentative. Regardless, they did what they set out to do, which was to put them in podium position for the free skate. The Canadians are currently in third place with a score of 76.82.

VIDEO | Duhamel, Radford focused on free skate

Savchenko and Massot are normally dazzling with their pair elements. On Wednesday though, Massot doubled a planned side-by-side triple jump, which leaves them a hair's breadth behind Duhamel and Radford in fourth place with a score of 76.59.

Tarasova and Morozov had a gorgeous short program to Rachmaninoff that suits them beautifully. Their skate was outstanding and resulted in another season-best score of 81.68, putting them in second place.

For Canadian skating fans it all comes down to the free skate on Thursday, when Duhamel and Radford hope to secure their first-ever Olympic podium.