Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford compete in the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” – Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” - Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

When two-time world pairs champion Eric Radford closed the book on his competitive figure skating career in 2018, he says he walked away feeling completely fulfilled.

It was a chance skate around the rink with Vanessa James while practising for “Battle of the Blades” in 2019 that now has Radford writing another chapter.

The 36-year-old Radford announced Wednesday that he was coming out of retirement to compete with James, a Toronto native who previously skated for France.

“I do believe that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” James said. “I do think that we can make an impact and motivate upcoming generations to change your way of thinking. There’s no age limit for success. And it’s our choice, and it’s our definition of success.”

Radford and Meagan Duhamel won two world figure skating titles, seven national titles, plus a bronze in pairs and gold in the team event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics before announcing their retirement.

The 33-year-old James was fifth at the 2018 Olympics and captured six French titles with Morgan Cipres. She also retired after the Games, but left feeling she had unfinished business.

During a practice session for the TV show “Battle of the Blades,” Radford and James decided to do a few laps around the rink together. Looking at the video after, they were surprised by how good they looked together.

Then the pandemic hit and competitive skating screeched to a halt. Radford and James decided to test out their skating partnership over a few days of practice, thinking perhaps they could do some professional shows together.

“We quickly realized that we could be very good, and that there was a lot of natural connection and matching there,” Radford said. “And then that was when the idea that maybe we could compete kind of entered our minds.”

“I think we both kind of felt like at the same time: ‘I wish we could show everybody how good we are.’”

James said coaches, friends and family were supportive and “loved what they saw.”

James said there was no guarantee she’d be released by the French federation to compete with Radford, but she received the green light on April 2.

The two, who will train in Quebec with Julie Marcotte, believe there is room for them on Canada’s team next season.

“We are strong technically, and it’s funny, because when you saw us with our previous partners, you wouldn’t think that our styles matched, but as soon as we got together, the lines were the same, our skating styles were the same, the way we did our crossovers… So we were like ‘Let’s see how it goes.’”

Duhamel sounded blindsided by the news.

“The professional skating career that Eric and I had worked so hard for has now come to an abrupt end, and that breaks my heart and hurts me so deeply,” she wrote in a long Twitter post.

Duhamel, who became a mom to daughter Zoey in 2019, said she and Radford had a verbal agreement to do professional shows together, and that she hadn’t been asked if she had any interest in a competitive comeback with Radford.

“It’s never my intention to hurt Meagan,” Radford said. “I have nothing but respect and it does make me sad that after everything we’ve been through that it’s come to this.”

Radford said he and Duhamel had spoken via text message, and “we were able to find some a little bit of closure and we both wished each other well at the end of that conversation.”

James, who’s excited to compete for Canada, said she and Radford have contributed a lot to the sport, but this is an entirely new chapter.

“We’re not here to diminish anything that we’ve done previously with our partners, they helped us achieve everything that we we’ve done up to now,” she said. “This is just about our story, wanting to give us a shot because I think that we can create something beautiful on the ice that people have not seen.

“And, you know, why not? We’re in good health, and I feel like, at this age, we’re very lucky to be able to continue.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Figure Skating

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read