Interview Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford
Four Continents, Osaka, February 2013
Q: When you teamed up, what
was the hardest and what was the easiest thing for you?
Meagan: The first day we
skated together, everything was hard. Death spirals were very easy
for us, we could do a level four death spiral right away. But the
basic things – we couldn’t do a lift, we couldn’t do a throw.
Timing issues and my partner was a lot smaller than Eric. So I was
prepared to be on top of the lift at Eric’s chest. But we had this
one really bad day and then once we had our try out our coaches were
like, it’s good, it’s going to work. Eric and I were like, oh my
God, you guys are crazy. Once we started training the jumps, the
throws all came very easily. We could to our throw triples the first
try. Death spirals, like I said, were very easy. The hardest thing
for us to learn was the triple twist. We did a double twist at the
beginning for a long time. Once we started practicing the triple it
was good. You know with the timing issues and I hadn’t done a
triple twist for like six years, so it was tricky for us.
Eric: That very first try
out it was funny, because she was so small, but for some reason she
felt so heavy, I couldn’t even get her above my head. It came
together really quickly. I remember our coach Bruno saying, give it a
week, because we were like are we doing this for the right reason, is
it going to work. One week later it all came together really quickly.
It was so … especially for me. Meagan competed at a higher level
than I had. In those first couple of weeks I was so exuberant and
happy, because I would throw her and she would land.
Meagan: Yes, I remember we
landed our first throw triple and Eric was like “oh my God, you
could do it. It’s been a struggle for him in the past.
Eric: My partners struggled
with the throws all the time and I thought it was me, I was a bad
thrower or something. But it was when I look back I think all the way
through from day one it’s been fun. Like every time I go and work
very hard but there is always this feeling of having fun and we enjoy
what we do. I think it’s that sort of working hard but easy going
attitude that has really helped accelerate our success.
Q: You seem to get along
Meagan: I think throughout
the years not just with ourselves but by training with other pair
teams you get to see what a struggle it is for some teams that just
aren’t happy. They are just really unhappy with the situation they
are in. That is so unfortunate.
Eric: It causes them to get
Meagan: In the past I didn’t
have the best working relationship with Craig either. That was
something that when I decided I was going keep skating, well I’m
not going to cry anymore about skating. If I’m going to keep
skating I’m not spending every day unhappy and crying. It is not
worth it. That was a decision that I decided, I was going to have a
more positive outlook on every day of training. We didn’t have any
problems we needed to get over anyway. It was just fun. You want to
say easy, but it is not easy. Our rink is a good environment and we
create a good energy for the younger kids to experience and get to
skate in, I think.
Q: When you ever have
arguments, about what?
Meagan: We got into one
argument once over who is going to die first. Eric was like, I’m
going to live to be 115 and I said, I’m going to be 116.
Eric: I think we are both
very competitive. If we are in separate teams we are competitive
against one another. For the most part sometimes we’ll have days
when it is frustrating because it is not working. You know, in pairs,
sometimes you can’t tell, it’s just maybe Meagan feels a little
off or maybe I feel a little off, but you can’t really tell. You’re
just trying your best, but if something doesn’t work, then it is
not going to work. We’re really good at being like, ok we just
leave it and it will be better tomorrow. I think that’s where our
age and our life experience comes in, is being able to say, ok, it is
not working, we just leave it and it is not going to affect us the
way I can remember when I was 18 or 19. It was the end of the world
if I didn’t land a triple Lutz that day, it was like I had lost it
Meagan: We’re just wiser.
That’s the way I would sum it up. After all these years we spent in
the sport by ourselves and with partners and with each other we’re
wise. Sometimes we see the way younger kids are training and I just
want to shake them, no, when you’re old you’re going to say, if I
had only knew then what I know now. I wouldn’t listen when I was 16
either. It’s just the way it is. We’re old and wise (laughs).
Q: You’re always
challenging yourselves technically a lot. You’re the only senior
level team that does a side by side triple Lutz. Why do you challenge
yourself so much?
Meagan: It is not even so
much of a challenge. My Lutz is just as easy as my triple toe.
Eric: We both can do the
jump as easily as we can do the other jumps, so we may as well put it
in. It was more mentally challenging and even now it is a little bit
more mentally challenging.
Meagan: Technically I think
that we can do at home nine out of ten just like we would do nine out
of ten any other jump. It is just in your head you perceive a triple
Lutz being much more difficult so sometimes it becomes overwhelming
mentally, not physically.
Eric: In a way we kind of
need to do it, because we’re playing a little bit of catch up with
the top, top teams that have been together for eight, nine years,
aside from Tatiana and Max who have been together short but went
straight to the top. It’s kind of our trademark.
Meagan: In a short program,
we’re not going to get the components that Aliona and Robin or
Tatiana and Max are going to get. They’re going to be about four
points, three points ahead of us in components, but we can be two or
three points ahead of them in the jump. We can close a big gap with a
lot of teams.
Eric: We have to use your
strength to get as far ahead as possible.
Meagan: Actually this year
when we were choreographing our program we put our Lutz into the
second half of our short program, because read the rules and we
thought that we’re going to get a bonus. When we found out that it
was only for single skaters we were slightly disappointed.
Eric: It should be for the
pairs, though. It would kind of change up the program, because all
the pairs go, twist-jump.
Meagan: We put a throw
triple Lutz and a side by side triple Lutz in the second half hoping
we would get bonuses for them. So we were disappointed when we
weren’t able to get that. We’re still hoping that maybe one day
they’ll put in this rule for pair teams even for a triple toe in
the second half. It is a big risk. It is harder to do when you are
Q: You also have a jump in
the second half of the long program.
Meagan: I think we’re the
only ones that do a combination in the second half. I haven’t seen.
Eric: I can’t think of any
Meagan: Aliona and Robin do
their jump, but they’re not doing their combo. It is hard to do our
triple Sal-toe-toe in the second half. In our long program our goal
is we have achieved it a few time to get eight points for this combo
in the second half and almost seven points for the Lutz in the
beginning. So we have the potential of 15 points on jumps alone. And
no one is even close to that. On top of it we put a throw triple
Lutz and throw triple loop both in the second half. We try to
maximize each little point we have.
Q: But you’ve been also
working hard on your components. How do you do that?
Eric: I think it is a
combination of first of all time together. You start to just to feel
each other’s rhythm. You know where the arm is going to be and
where the leg is going to be and how to match it. We started working
with an acting coach, Catherine Pinard. Some people may think how
does acting and skating connect, but you’re performing and
performing is a type of acting. It’s just helped us when you’re
in the middle of the program you put yourself into a space of rather
than trying to execute a movement you’re creating an emotion,
creating an intention and that translates a lot more strongly to an
audience and to the judges rather than just trying to look pretty all
Meagan: We work with our
choreographer twice a week. She is only 15 to 20 minutes away from
us, so it’s very easy to go and see her. I think this is really
convenient to us and I don’t know how many people have their
choreographer so close that they can see them on a regular basis. So
this definitely helps with our program progression. Like this year
we’ve changed around both our programs a lot since we debuted them
at Skate Canada. When we decided to choreograph our short program we
decided to make the hardest short program possible. We jam-packed it
with transitions everywhere and we put all these jumps in the second
half. We were like we’re going to do this and make it so obvious
that our score is going to improve. Actually we feel like we didn’t
get the credit for how difficult it was. So we actually simplified it
to give it a little bit more flow. But we’ve been able to do all
these little changes, because our choreographer is so close to us. I
think that helps the program.
Q: How did you choose your
music for this year, La Boheme and Angel.
Eric: Firstly we like to use
music that hasn’t been used before and I find it surprising that
more skaters don’t feel that way.
Meagan: I find it funny, on
the internet people always like oh my God this person is skating to
Swan Lake again but when you have something new they are like why
would the skate to that music, it’s never been done before. What do
you want? You can’t please everybody. We did once some thing that
hasn’t been done often, even La Boheme hasn’t been done.
Eric: I kind of happened
upon the music the long program music just listening to different
music on i-Tunes. If you buy a piece a recommendation list comes up
and I listened to that one. It kind of just follows this string of
music. I kind of heard it and right away it popped out as having a
bit of character. I could see a story in my head when I listened to
the music. It was powerful and colorful and I thought it would be
good. We all listened to it and chose it.
Q: What is your story for
the long program?
Meagan: The music comes from
a movie called Angel which is set in the 50s. Apparently the movie
wasn’t very good and so it didn’t get released outside France and
Belgium I think. Maybe in England. But we read some reviews and they
were really bad and we decided not to watch the music.
Eric: What we kind of
created is our little own story. I think in the movie she is a
struggling writer, and so at the beginning the music is quite
tumultuous and I think a lot of the choreography is dark, we are not
really looking at each other, Meagan is behind me. Then we kind of
find each other throughout the program. Near the end there is that
waltzing part that’s where we come together, dance, fall in love
and then it ends with like the big climax. It’s kind of a love
story, a kind of classic man and woman meeting each other, finding
each other in life.
Meagan: It starts off so
dark and mysterious almost, then it becomes a little bit angsty and
then at the halfway point in calms down and becomes romantic until
the end. So it’s got a little different flavor in the first half
and the second half.
Q: What about the short
program, La Boheme?
Meagan: It’s about free
spirit, and wild.
Eric: Enjoy de vie.
Q: Does it suit your
Meagan: It suits my
Eric: The short program has
been more challenging for me to kind of come out and smile, because I
can’t.. . Sometimes I say I could never be a dancer, because I
don’t know how to fake smile. But it was easy to do this weekend
because we had such a great short. It’s natural. I think it’s
something that we’ve been working on. Our acting coach would have
do our footwork and laugh, like just pretend to laugh through the
whole thing. She has these different exercises that kind of open my
mind, a different way to think about it than just trying to be happy.
I can’t just be happy, I need to have a reason and that’s what
our acting coach really worked on.
Meagan: This program is kind
of inhibited it’s not structured small, it’s big in everything, a
bit wild, free spirited and building liked that all the way to the
end when it gets like party time and drinking wine that’s what we
say at the end of our footwork. It’s like we had a party, throw
everything away, then we go into the side by side spin and the music
is really building, really fast and it’s supposed to be a little
bit wild. It’s a good word.
Q: You mentioned yesterday
that you love music and play the piano and compose music. What kind
of music do you compose? Maybe one day you’ll skate to music that
you have created?
Eric: Well, that’s the
plan for next year actually. I’ve written a song and I’m going to
have it recorded and produced with an orchestra. Hopefully we’re
going to use it for the short program next season. I mean our goal
has to be to choose the best music. So I’m going to record this
piece and if it is the best piece, we’re going to use it. I wrote
it when my old coach Paul Wirtz passed away. I’ve always wanted to
write a piece of music. It is dedicated to him. It’s in the middle
of being produced right now and I’m hoping that it all comes
together. I really, really hope it all works.
Meagan: Especially for the
Eric: I’m composing and
writing music all the time and I’d eventually love to go back and
finish my degree in music and really pursue it with the same amount
of energy I pursue skating, because music is my other passion.
Q: So you see yourself
working with music in the future.
Eric: Yes. (I’d like)
either composing for film, composing for video games or producing
music with specific artists, everything. I just like to create when
I’m at the piano.
Q: Meagan, where do you see
yourself in maybe ten years from now?
Meagan: Being married, and
babies… I finished a degree in holistic nutrition, so I want to
work in nutrition; I want to get my personal training to do like
pilates instructing, cycling classes, bike spin classes, all this
wellness type of lifestyle. I’m also interested in getting my
massage therapist certification. It all ties into wellness, healthy
lifestyle and that’s the path I would like to take in the future as
well as having a family
Q: That leads to my
question. You are a vegan. How did you become a vegan and how tough
it is to maintain that lifestyle as you are travelling so much?
Meagan: I chose to become a
vegan four about four and half years ago. I was reading a book and I
found it really interesting. I finished the entire book in one
sitting at night because I was so enthralled in all this information
and I’d never actually heard of vegan. I’ve heard of people being
vegetarian before. It felt like a new challenge for me and I like to
push myself and to see how … like self improvement, to improve
myself, push myself I think that’s a process I’m really
passionate about doing. I thought this seems like something that
could improve my life by doing this. So I cleaned up my fridge the
next morning, immediately decided to become a vegan. Richard our
coach told me I was crazy and I was going to be malnourished and this
is so silly. The more people told me that the more I wanted to do it
to prove them wrong. This was December 1 and it was Christmas coming
up. It was very difficult that Christmas I had to bring little
Tupperware containers of food everywhere I went because no one had
food that I could eat. I read every book I could on it, I researched
on the internet and then I started studying holistic nutrition,
because I was so interested in it. That’s how I got my holistic
nutrition degree. It is hard when I travel. I bring a lot of my own
food. I try not to eat too much processed food. At home, I make my
own cereal, I make my own bread. I’ve tried to make my own almond
milk, but it doesn’t work very well. You soak you almonds and put
them in a processer with water. I haven’t gotten it down quite yet.
It’s an ongoing process. Coming to Japan there was a lot that I
could eat. They offered a lot of vegetables, a lot of potatoes. That
was really nice. It’s a little bit harder in Europe. I think that
is where I struggle the most. I try to bring as much as I can and
then when I go home I go to a vegan restaurant in Montreal, the first
day I’m home, and have a huge feast of hearty food that I was
missing while I was gone.
Q: Have you tried that diet?
Eric: I have actually. I’ve
been to the vegan restaurant in Montreal and it’s actually really,
really good. I’ve considered maybe becoming a vegetarian at some
point. I don’t think it would be that difficult. It would be too
difficult for me to give up milk and cheese and all that type of
stuff. It is a big part of my life. Maybe eventually I could see
myself being a vegetarian. It would just have to be like… it would
involve a change in my whole life and I don’t know, I’m just
waiting for a sign I guess to make it happen.
Meagan: I enjoy being a
vegan. I like to find things that I can eat that don’t have animal
products in it. It’s not for everybody, I understand that. I don’t
go around preaching to people. I’d sit at a table while other
people are eating steak. I’m not separating myself. I make my
boyfriend dinner sometimes. I end up burning his bacon half the time,
I’m so bad. You know, I’m not totally against it. I go to a
steakhouse and just ask them to give me vegetables and rice. It’s a
personal decision that I made and understand if not everybody feels
the same way about it as I do. But I’ve seen a positive change in
my life. I didn’t decide to do it because I was for animal rights
purposes. I did it for my own self, but now I think I’ finding
myself much more compassionate towards animals. I’m discovering
this other side.
Q: What positive effect do
Meagan: I just feel I’m
more energized all the time. Everything I’m putting into my body is
nutrients. I’m not eating any empty type of calories. I make a lot
of treats, like I make cakes, cupcakes and cookies that are all vegan
based. I don’t eat a whole cake at once. Just because it is vegan
it doesn’t mean it is healthy. I feel way more energized, I sleep
better, I’ve become a lot calmer in my personality, less
high-strung. My skin is better. I rarely have any problems with my
complexion. All around I just feel stronger. It seems to be more
popular now. When I first became vegan I didn’t hear of many
people, but now it seems like it’s becoming more well-known and
people seem to be trying it a lot. You hear about Hollywood stars
trying all these crazy diets. But now a lot of them seem to be going
into the approach of natural food and being vegan. I like it and when
I have kids maybe I’ll try to raise them this way, but it’s going
to be their choice, it can’t be me enforcing it.
Eric: There is two teams and
there is a line in the middle. There are four balls. And you try and
throw and hit the person.
Meagan: It is a rubber type
Q: It’s not too hard, I
Meagan: A girl on our team
last week before we came here got whipped in the face.
Eric: I’m always kind of
aware, getting ready to protect ourselves.
Meagan: It depends. We are
playing against this team with three big guys, they’re obviously
throwing it really hard. I can’t throw it that hard. There are five
(players) on each side.
Eric: Three boys and two
Meagan: It starts with two
(balls) on each side. You say ‘go’, and then you pick up the ball
and you just start throwing it at people. As children, we played it
in gym class in school.
Q: How can you describe Eric
in three words?
Meagan: I want to pick the
three most creative words I can. Understanding, competitive and
stable. He is very stable.
Eric: Vivacious, determined,
Q: Thank you very much for