Canadian pairs skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford set a goal for themselves at the start of this season to put up some big scores early - and to keep building up those numbers as they progress toward the Olympics.
They kept their promise Friday night at the Canadian figure skating championships, scoring 75.80 points in the short program, despite admittedly not executing a flawless program.
"With this short program especially, I think we're right where we want to be," Radford said. "There was just a couple of little sticky moments that we can iron out for that really perfect performance at Sochi when it's going to count the most."
Duhamel and Radford sit in first place after the short program, followed by Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch in second with 74.96 points, and Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers in third with 61.67 points.
The long program will be skated Saturday, and the Olympic team will be named on Sunday. Canada has three spots for the pairs event in the Sochi Olympics.
Duhamel and Radford are contenders for the podium in Sochi and will be looking to convert their performance in the short program into a strong showing Saturday.
"It sets us up perfectly," Duhamel said casting an eye to Saturday. "We're going to go out there and we're going to have a great skate and we're looking forward to that."
The pair's scores have been on the rise throughout the year, as they had hoped. In October, at the Skate Canada International event in Saint John, NB, they notched 69.57 points for the program, one of their first of the season.
"We scored a 73 a month ago in Japan and now we've upped it a little bit," Duhamel said. "And we're going to up it hopefully a little bit more for Sochi."
The short program is a particularly emotional one for Radford, who composed the music the pair skates to in honour of former coach Paul Wirtz, who died of cancer in 2006. He said their performance in Ottawa Friday night was particularly memorable, given the Canadian crowd's reaction.
"Nationals is a special competition," he said. "And I think that the story about this program is widespread enough that people understand what it means to us, and to me. And I hit that ending position, I just felt a swell of emotions and it was just an indescribable moment."