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Duhamel, Radford confident as they take aim at second world pairs title

BOSTON — Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford found themselves a little unfocused this season.

They were coming off a spectacular year that saw them sweep the gold medals, capped by a victory at the world championships in Shanghai.

After knocking down one goal after another over a flawless few months, they were left searching for inspiration.

"We were just wandering into the season a bit aimlessly," Duhamel said. "Like 'Yeah we won everything last year, let's just see if we can win again,' without this direction. Last year we had so many goals. . . this year, we kind of came in a little flighty."

A second-place finish at the Grand Prix Final in December behind Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov ended their perfect run of victories.

Radford said after a heart-to-heart with their choreographer Julie Marcotte, the five-time Canadian champions were able to "hit the reset button" on their season, and are feeling confident as they take aim at their second straight world title this week at TD Garden.

"(Marcotte) knows us so well, and on a really deep level and she knows how we function, and what drives us," Radford said. "Last couple of weeks we worked with Julie on centring ourselves, each time we take the ice, because you feel different every time you take the ice. Sometimes we're on fire and we can't miss, and another time we might feel great but things aren't working, it's just bringing ourselves back to that same calm place each time.

"That's what we did all last season, but it happened automatically, and it hasn't been happening this season."

Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., felt they were on pace for a solid performance at the Four Continents Championships last month, but Duhamel fell ill and they withdrew before the free skate.

Canada's two other pairs teams in Boston are Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto and Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., who were injury replacements for Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau.

Moore-Towers and Marinaro have been dealing with their own injury woes. They were sidelined for three weeks after a horrible fall at the Canadian championships. Marinaro was lifting Moore-Towers into a triple twist, when the two crashed hard onto the ice.

They finished their short program, and then gutted it out the next day in their long program.

"We were definitely a lot more sore than the general public knows, and it was definitely a tough skate, the long program at nationals," Marinaro said.

They both suffered dislocated ribs and a lot of bruising and swelling, and stayed off the ice for three weeks.

"We were training brilliantly before nationals, better than we have ever skated, and I think it was sheer (bad) luck," Moore-Towers said of the accident. "We learned to expect the unexpected, and we learned that we are maybe a lot stronger than we thought we were."

Duhamel and Radford, who teamed up after the Vancouver Olympics, also have two world bronze medals. Their victory last year was the first by a Canadian pairs team since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won gold in 2001.

The pairs competition begins Friday with the short program.

Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press

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