Duhamel, Radford vault Canada into 1st in figure skating team event
Patrick Chan shaky in men's short program
By Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Canada jumped into first place in the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, following a strong performance in the pairs short program from Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Duhamel, of Lively, Ont., and Radford, of Balmertown, Ont., skated to a cover of U2's With or Without You, scoring 76.57 points, good enough for second in the discipline.
"This is a great way to start," Radford told CBC Sports after the event.
Click on the video below to watch Duhamel and Radford's short skate:
The efforts of the two-time world champs, plus a third-place skate from Patrick Chan in the men's short program, gave Canada 17 points in the overall standings. The United States sits second with 14, followed by Japan with 13.
"Once that throw was landed, I felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders and I could smile for the rest of the performance," Duhamel told CBC Sports.
Schedule shake-up affects men's skaters
The first day of Chan's final Olympics began before the sun came up. He rose at 5 a.m. local time, grabbed a coffee on the way to the bus for a 7 a.m. practice. Then it was back to the athletes village for some oatmeal, and a short rest before hopping the bus back to the Gangneung Ice Arena for a 10 a.m. competition.
The bleary-eyed Chan had a shaky skate to open Canada's gold-medal quest in the figure skating team event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. But he wasn't the only one.
"I don't think any of us in our entire careers, even mine, have ever skated this early, or with this type of schedule. I definitley think that played a role," Chan said. "But we're not in control of that."
Skating to Dust in the Wind by Kansas, the three-time world champion from Toronto fell on both his quadruple toe loop and triple Axel to score 81.66, putting him in third in the men's short program.
Click on the video player below to watch Chan's performance in the short program:SSI Err
Shoma Uno was the only skater to lay down anything resembling a clean program, scoring 103.25 to give Japan an early lead. Alexei Bychenko of Israel sits second with 88.49. American phenom Nathan Chen, considered a favourite for gold in the individual event, fell once and popped a quad jump to score 80.61.
Pairs fare better
Duhamel and Radford had a better day than Chan, finishing second behind Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who recorded 80.92. Germans Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot were third with 75.36.
"Once that throw was landed, I felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders and I could smile for the rest of the performance," Duhamel said.
Click on the video player below to watch highlights from the pairs short program:
The team event, with its Ryder Cup vibe, sees the world's 10 top countries compete in short programs of all four disciplines. Only the five top teams move on to compete in the long program.
Unique to the team event, skaters sit in country boxes, and teammates can join competitors in the "kiss and cry." Chan was grateful after his skate to see smiling faces of his Canadian teammates. Ice dancer Scott Moir wrapped him in a huge hug.
"It sounds cheesy, but having them there, normally if it was just me by myself, I would start analyzing [my program], being disappointed in the skate, but they were all so supportive," Chan said. "No need to apologize to them or anything. I think that's the greatness of the team event, this isn't about me, this is about all of us. Each discipline can support each other, even if some of us have mistakes or bad days."
Rather than tally up total judging scores, team event scoring is based on ranking — the top skater in each discipline receives 10 points, and so on down to one point.
Russia won gold in Sochi with 75 points. Canada finished with 65, while the U.S. won bronze with 60.
The team event continues Sunday and Monday.
With files from CBC Sports