MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canada's world pairs champions don't plan on giving up any ground to the rest of the field.
So when Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford got wind that other pairs skaters were trying to perfect the quad throw Salchow, a difficult element that helped the Canadians clinch the world title, they decided to add another one.
Duhamel and Radford will debut a quad throw Lutz this season, making for what should be the most technically difficult pairs free program in history.
"We've upped our ante this season and added a new trick, just to make sure we stay ahead of the pack," Duhamel said Wednesday, at the Canadian team's annual high performance camp at the Hershey Centre.
"We said 'OK, let's learn another throw quad just to make sure we stay ahead of the game,' and kind of keep ourselves, as much as we can be, untouchable in some way."
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., won the world pairs title last winter in Shanghai, scoring huge marks for their quad throw Salchow — a manoeuvre that has Radford throw Duhamel for four revolutions through the air.
Their free program for the upcoming season now has a jam-packed segment that includes — in succession — side-by-side triple Lutzes, the throw quad Salchow, then the throw quad Lutz.
"That's a really big minute-and-a-half of pairs figure skating history," Duhamel said.
Duhamel and Radford worked up to the quad throw Lutz over the summer, and finally attempted it while on a "Stars on Ice" tour stop in Calgary. They posted their successful landing — you can hear the applause from onlookers, and a squeal of delight from Duhamel — on their Facebook page.
"We figured it would be easier than learning the first (quad throw), because now I already knew how to rotate four times, that was the biggest challenge," said Duhamel.
"We said 'You know what, we should just try it.' I felt good, I felt ready, and the second day we tried it, we landed it, and were like 'Oh wow. There it is.'"
The two are coming off a busy summer that saw them tour Canada, perform in Los Angeles, and travel twice to Asia for shows. In between, they choreographed new short and long programs for the upcoming season, and Duhamel got married — a destination wedding in Bermuda.
They head into this season as the pairs team to beat, but vow they won't let it change their approach to competition.
"We understand that if we go out and have a good skate for ourselves, that will always put us in the range of definitely top three in the world, and hopefully definitely world champions again," Radford said. "It's just us against ourselves out there, and we learned from the year before during the Olympic year, that if we concentrate on everybody else, it doesn't work for us."
Duhamel and Radford open the Grand Prix season at Skate Canada International next month in Lethbridge, Alta.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press