Lausanne, Switzerland

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Canada’s Meagan Duhamel looks back at a very distinguished career as a pair skater. For years, she and partner Eric Radford have been a fixture in the skating world, always pushing the limits and setting an example for others. Duhamel/Radford, who have been skating together since 2010, are two-time World Champions, the 2018 Olympic bronze medalists and the 2018 Olympic Champions in the team event as well as multiple Canadian Champions, Champions and medalists at numerous events. Now retired from competitive skating, Meagan, 32, and Eric, 33, are skating in shows and are exploring other options. Meagan for example will be the skater reporter at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Vancouver this week.

“I am so excited to be working with the ISU at this year’s Grand Prix Final. I think the Junior Final is a really exciting event, and it’s a chance to truly see the future of figure skating. I love to watch the skaters’ journey and it all begins as they are juniors,” Meagan pointed out. “The sport has changed so much since I was competing at the Junior Final in 2004, but in some ways it really hasn’t changed at all. I remember Mao Asada landing the triple Axel when I was at the Junior Final, and Yu-Na Kim was beginning her climb to the top of the skating World. The sport had so much depth during that time. But it was also only the beginning of this judging system. A lot of skaters didn’t understand how to work this system, myself included. I like now how the Junior Final is at the same time as the Senior Final. It brings more attention to the junior skaters and gives them the opportunity to learn from the seniors. Many of these junior skaters will see (Olympic Champion) Alina Zagitova and (World Champion) Nathan Chen live for the first time in Vancouver and it can inspire them for their future.” 

Meagan started out as a single skater and competed successfully at the international level, qualifying for the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in the 2004/2005 season and competing at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in 2003 and at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in 2006, where she finished a respectable fifth. However, while still competing in Singles, she teamed up with Ryan Arnold to skate Pairs in 2004. They became the first Pair Skaters to land a side by side triple Lutz in competition and also the first to perform a throw triple Lutz. In summer 2007, Meagan continued her career with Craig Buntin and focused fully on Pairs. When Buntin retired in 2010, Duhamel found a new partner in Eric Radford, and this turned out to be the perfect match. Plus, the Canadians made an effort to become a successful team.

Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin (CAN) WFSC USA 2009©Getty Images 85588098

Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin (CAN) at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2009©Getty Images

“Eric and I were mature adults when we started skating together. We had the same goal and we both wanted to be successful in skating more than anything else in the World,” Meagan said. “We were both adaptable to each other and understanding of each other. Never once did Eric and I have a fight. We didn’t lose any minute of training because of arguments. We knew every minute is important and there was no time to waste. Although maybe there was times of frustration when mistakes happened, we both understood that we were trying the best we could. If I missed a throw quad because maybe Eric didn’t throw it perfectly, I never told him that he is doing something wrong. We calmly discussed how both of us can improve what we are doing. It was the same thing on a lift, if Eric felt I was incorrect, he never blamed me. We both found things to adjust and make the lift better. It’s important for a pair team to always understand each element takes both partners at their best. So overall, we had a successful partnership because we had a common goal and we didn’t waste time on the path to reach that goal. We also never wanted to settle. We both enjoyed pushing our limits,” she continued.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) WFSC 2016©GettyImages 518765208

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016©Getty Images

For Meagan, two favorite moments stand especially out in her career. “One was winning my first National title in 2012. In Canada, the National Championships are a very prestigious event and after many years of competing at the senior level, Eric and I delivered a personal best performance under quite a lot of pressure and the joy and excitement we felt in that moment is etched in my memory forever,” Meagan noted. “The second moment I would have to mention is the 2016 World Championships. Eric and I were reigning World Champions and this event was stacked with stiffer competition then when we previously won in 2015. Many people didn’t even consider us for a medal, predicting the Chinese, Germans and Russians to easily defeat us. Delivering our free skate in Boston that night and receiving a standing ovation was a magical moment. I will never forget our final lift, where Eric did the spread eagle carry lift and I was looking down at my coaches, Richard (Gauthier) and Bruno (Marcotte), jumping and screaming by the sidelines. I was so excited, I looked at them and screamed, joining them in their celebrations,” she added.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) WFSC 2016©GettyImages 518764798

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) with their coach Bruno Marcotte at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016©International Skating Union

Obviously, Duhamel experienced also disappointments in her career, but each setback eventually made her stronger. The toughest moment in her career came for her in 2010, when she and Craig Buntin failed to qualify for the Olympic team for Vancouver 2010. “I thought my sport career was finished and that I lost my opportunity to live some of my greatest dreams. I was lucky that my coach, and now husband (Bruno Marcotte), encouraged me to continue my sporting career, telling me that Eric Radford was the best male skater in Canada, and him and I would skate together and achieve more than just ‘Olympic Participation’,” she recalled. 

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) GP CAN 2017©International Skating Union (ISU) 867643048

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating (CAN) 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)

In the eight years they’ve been skating together, Duhamel/Radford created many different programs with long-time choreographer Julie Marcotte, skating to music by Coldplay, Adele, soundtracks, more classical pieces and one year even to a piece of music written by Eric himself as a tribute to his late former coach Paul Wirtz. “My favorite competition program was our Muse free skate in 2014/2015. We skated this program so well at every single competition, improving our personal best every time we competed. It holds beautiful memories for me with audiences around the World. I really loved this program’s energy and attack, and I also liked it, because I felt it was unique to pairs skating. It was so different than anything any other pairs were doing, and I have always wanted to stand out and be different,” Meagan said.  

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Olympics !!!

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In 2010 Duhamel fulfilled one of her biggest dreams when competing at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. She and Eric claimed the silver medal in the team event and finished seventh in the individual competition. The Canadians decided to continue and the best was yet to come for them. They ended their career on a true highlight when competing at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. “The image I remember of the Olympics is actually before my long program performance,” Meagan recalled. “Eric and I were getting ready to skate, and we both were shocked at how calm we felt. We both cheered for Aljona (Savchenko) and Bruno (Massot – who had skated before them), and comfortably took our starting position. It felt so peaceful. I am so surprised to imagine that in this crazy moment of my career, I felt so serene. I guess I trusted the moment and felt no pressure for my free skate. What a beautiful finale for my career, to have peace like this.”

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) WOC 2018©GettyImages 918511698

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) at the Winter Olympic Games 2018©Getty Images

The Olympic Games marked the end of an amazing competitive career, but obviously there is a life after the Games. “I didn’t do anything shocking after the Olympics. We had to prepare for many skating shows, so we didn’t even take much time away from skating,” Meagan shared. “This summer I thought I am going to enjoy a long summer vacation for the first time since I am a child. But actually, I began coaching, finishing my nutrition studies and doing some trainings for technical specialist, and I didn’t actually enjoy so many summer activities. I guess this is fine, I like a busy life and I love this sport so maybe I am happier to be working within the sport then enjoying the sunshine outside.”

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) GP CAN 2017©International Skating Union (ISU) 867261790

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating (CAN) 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)

The transition from the life of a competitive athlete into a different life as a show skater, coach or student can be challenging, but Meagan found a good way to manage this transition. “I can say that I still miss the daily training of an athlete. I love waking up in the morning and training, and going to bed at night so sore from working hard. I love this life,” she said. “I try to train properly for all the shows we are doing but of course it’s different. It’s a lot of travel and less structure then when I was competing. But I am happy to still be performing in shows and tours, and I coach quite a lot when I am at home and I really love this as well. One thing I do feel happy is that I don’t need to stress about long programs in training! Eric and I would treat every training session like it’s the World Championships. We were so serious about it and always wanted to do our best performance, even at 8 am in the cold practice rink. That put a lot of stress on my mind, so I am happy to be free of that part.”

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) GPF FRA 2016©International Skating Union (ISU) 629138648

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final (FRA) 2016©International Skating Union (ISU)

Duhamel/Radford have been performing a lot in shows in the past months. They took part in a two months tour across Canada with many members of the Canadian Olympic Team. In addition Meagan is coaching and finished her holistic nutrition studies. “Now I want to focus on doing training to be a yoga instructor and starting a family,” she commented. She has been married to her long-time coach Bruno Marcotte since June 2015.

For the future, Meagan has a lot of plans. “I hope in five years I am a mother. I want to have a baby, and I also want to adopt a child. I also hope to open my own cafe and yoga studio. And probably rescue more dogs,” she said. “I’m sure I will also be coaching and hopefully working as a Technical Specialist. I also want to get into some commentary work and start a podcast sharing inspiring stories from skaters. I hope I have time in the next few years to do all of this.” Since Meagan Duhamel always has had energy for three people, it will not be surprising if she gets all of this done within the next five years.