KINGSTON, ONTARIO – No surprise here: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pair short program at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships with a wide margin – 14.35 points – something they are not used to.

Their winning score of 79.50 was a Canadian record.

“This relaxed feeling has allowed us to spread our wings and enjoy our skating and if we can keep building it, then we can keep on improving,” Radford said. “For us, as long as we can keep on improving, we’ll keep on going.”

They have learned that it’s not wise to get complacent about a big lead. They had one at NHK, went into the free in a rather nonchalant manner and as soon as the music started, their muscles just did not respond.

The most interesting battle was the one between two new teams formed by Duhamel and Radford’s toughest competitors over the past several years: Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.

Moore-Towers decided she wanted to skate for two more quadrennials and hooked up with Michael Marinaro. Moscovitch went to Russia to find Lubov Ilyushechkina, who had last skated in Canada at the 2010 Skate Canada International ironically in Kingston, Canada. There is a video out there somewhere of Ilyushechkina declaring that she loved Canada and would love to live here.

She had her homecoming on Friday night in Kingston. When Ilyushechkina and Moscovitch took to the ice, the crowd cheered noisily. And every time they landed a throw or a jump, the crowd cheered more. With this wind beneath their wings, they finished second with 65.15 points.

Moore-Towers and Marinaro ended fourth with 61.08 points, saying they felt a bit stiff and nervous. What were they most proud of? Moore-Towers seemed to say it was about the way they handled the “awkward” situation of being on the ice with an old partner. All week, they have been on the same training session together.

“It is difficult to compete against an old partner,” she said. “I think that all four members of us have done a pretty good job of it. I’m happy. They look happy.
“We’re just kind of hoping for people to adapt to that and learn that’s the way it is now. And it’s the way it’s going to be. We can be happy for everybody.”

In third place are new seniors Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, the Junior Grand Prix champions, who had to adapt their routine to match the senior requirements. They added a triple Salchow instead of a double Lutz, but the entrance into the new jump was on a different pattern. Seguin put a hand down on the throw, but otherwise they sung, earning 61.47 points.

Bilodeau admitted he felt a responsibility to do well here after such a strong season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. “It was a good beginning,” he said.

In ice dancing, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won the short dance with 76.26 points, 6.23 points ahead of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

The big race was for third spot and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam got it with 64.87 points, 3.37 points ahead of new international sensation Elisabeth Paradis and Francois-Xavier Ouellette.