GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford wrapped up competition at the Pyeongchang Olympics and possibly their figure skating careers with a stellar free program on Thursday, earning a bronze medal that makes them feel complete.
The two-time world champions, who have said they would retire after this season, landed the fiendish throw quad Salchow in the free skate to amass 230.15 points overall, finishing behind Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot and Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China.
A few days ago, the pair skated the short and long programs in the team event to help Canada win gold.
“These four performances just perfectly wrapped up my skating career and my skating journey,” Duhamel said. “I feel so complete right now. I feel like I’m going to be happy for the rest of my life.”
But the trials they faced ahead of the Olympics could have stopped them in their tracks.
Their career were spiraling out of control last season. They finished a disappointing seventh at the world championships where Radford skated with a herniated disc in his back.
But coaching changes and strong performances at Grand Prix events in the run-up to Pyeongchang helped them regroup and focus on the last months of their competitive careers.
“All of last season was disappointment after disappointment after disappointment,” Duhamel told a news conference, adding that the pair’s struggles had ultimately helped them in their Olympic quest.
The pair, who won silver at the inaugural team event at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, won the Skate Canada Grand Prix event in October with 222.22 points after having finished second in the short program behind Olympic champions Savchenko and Massot.
They also finished third at the Grand Prix Final in Japan in December, with Duhamel falling on the throw quadruple Salchow.
But in Pyeongchang, they became the first pair to land the jump in Olympic competition. The jump, which pushes the limits of athleticism, sees Radford toss Duhamel, who spins four times in the air before landing backwards on one foot.
The pair told reporters that they were unlikely to compete at the world championships next month in Milan.
“Right now we are going to relish in this wonderful moment,” Duhamel said.
Duhamel and Radford said they could take part in shows after retirement but remain vague on how they will be involved in skating. They insisted their eight-year skating partnership will link them forever.
“We will keep a foot in the door when it comes to skating,” Radford said.
“We look forward to doing shows and touring for as long as possible. We just feel so fortunate that we will have these incredible memories for the rest of our lives.”
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Sudipto Ganguly