Meagan Duhamel put it this way: At the Olympics, “there is triumph, and there is heartbreak.”
Unfortunately for Duhamel and partner Eric Radford, the pairs figure-skating finale Wednesday was one of undeniable heartbreak.
Heading in to the evening with an outside shot at a medal, the Canadian champions sat fifth after the short program, and were confident they could move up to a bronze if everything went according to plan.
For the first half of their program, it did.
But then, Duhamel slipped on one of her key jumps and the pair could not regain their form. In a field dominated by world-class Russian, German and Chinese pairs, there was no margin of error.
Afterward, Duhamel could not find words for what went wrong.
“Today, I really felt good, I didn’t have a doubt in my head. When we went on the ice I was like, ‘This is our moment, we’re going to own it, were going to nail it,’” a downcast Duhamel said.
“It happens to everybody, we see athletes in all sports here at the Olympics not even qualifying for the final – these great, great athletes, and it’s the story of the Games.”
Russia’s powerhouse team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won gold with a combined score of 236.86 points over the short and long program. Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov placed second (218.68), while Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy claimed bronze (215.78).
Duhamel and Radford, finished seventh with 199.53 – and could not mask their disappointment.
“I think we know what our potential is, and our potential is a lot higher,” Radford said. “That’s what you want, to reach your potential. If we had a great skate and we ended up eighth, we would be really, really happy. But when you don’t reach your potential, for any athlete, it’s going to be a bit disappointing, and that’s where we are right now.”
It was a night of mixed resultsfor the Canadians.
While Duhamel and Radford struggled, teammates Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch turned in one of their best performances. Skating in the Olympics for the first time, the pair went into the long program in sixth place, and bettered that, finished fifth with a combined mark of 202.10. Fellow Canadians Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers finished 14th, with 161.98 points.
Moore-Towers was visibly elated as she and Moscovitch finished their free skate.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve, you can tell when I’m upset, and you can tell when I’m happy, and there’s no hiding it with me.”
Having nailed their most difficult elements, Moscovitch said his partner could barely contain herself even before they were done skating.
“We finished the last lift and we were skating into the ending and she was like, ‘Ha ha ha ha,’ laughing,” he said.
Moore-Towers said that wasn’t unusual, given she once finished a skate in tears because she was so happy. “We really took our Olympic moment, and we’re going to feel it for the rest of our lives for sure,” she said.
Despite not making the podium in the individual pairs event, the top two Canadian teams were part of the silver medal won in the team event this week. Moscovitch said the Sochi medals are surprisingly heavy. “Like a dumbbell,” he said.
Radford and Duhamel added they could take solace in the team medal.
“I’ll be looking at that medal and wearing it around the house for a while,” Radford said. “That will be a moment that nobody can take away from us. … By the end of the Games, and when we get home, we’ll look back on these Olympics with a lot more happiness than disappointment.”