A young pair together only since mid-June stole the show last night at the Canadian figure skating championships by making history.
Meagan Duhamel, 19, of Lively, Ont., and Ryan Arnold, 20, of Barrie, Ont., became the first pair in the world to land triple Lutzes in competition.
Three other pairs have tried and failed. Reigning world champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia bailed out of them during Skate America in 1999. Last year's U.S. champions, Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, have been trying them this season with no success.
Elizabeth Putnam of Toronto and Sean Wirtz of Marathon, Ont., bronze medalists last year in Canada, have been trying them this season, too, with no luck. They were up to skate last night before Duhamel and Arnold, but Putnam did only a double.
Duhamel and Arnold knew the others had missed their Lutzes. And even though Duhamel had competed only two hours earlier in the women's short program, and put her hands down on the ice, she said she had lots of energy and confidence to do a perfect one in the pairs short program.
They also intend to do triple Lutzes in the pairs long program tomorrow night.
Duhamel was in fourth place in the women's event and is the luckier of the two. She will not have to compete in long programs for both disciplines on the same night. But Arnold, who competes in the senior men's event, will have to tomorrow night.
Duhamel said she never intended to do pairs, and Arnold was a junior champion with another partner. But he'd taken a year off pairs skating to concentrate on singles.
Because they train at the same club in Barrie, Arnold said, they both started fooling around on the ice, trying pairs tricks. Duhamel's singles coach, Lee Barkell, was also Arnold's pair coach. A tryout ensued. The first time Duhamel tried a couple of throw moves, she landed them both -- and they were triples.
The energetic young pair may also accomplish another first if they land a throw triple Lutz in the long program tomorrow. They say they practice throw triple flips "just for fun." Duhamel is also competing with an injury. She developed a stress fracture in her left ankle before the Junior Grand Prix Final (she qualified in the women's event), but didn't tell anybody about it because she said she didn't want to make excuses.
She finally told her partner, who told the coach. Two weeks before the Grand Prix Final, she had a bone scan that showed the stress fracture. With it, she finished fifth at the Grand Prix Final.