Canadian skaters double the Grand Prix gold in Japan

Canadian figure skaters found their way to the podium on two occasions this weekend, winning the pairs and ice dance events at the NHK Trophy in Japan.

In the final stop of the Grand Prix series prior to the Final in Barcelona, Spain, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won in pairs while Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje took the ice dance title in Osaka, Japan.

It is the second gold medal of the 2014-15 season for both teams, having previously won Skate Canada International, and all have qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Another Canadian ice dance duo – Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier – already qualified for Barcelona with a silver medal last week in France.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford take their victory lap following the gold medal presentation.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford take their victory lap following the gold medal presentation.

Duhamel and Radford took a commanding lead after the short program. Their 72.70 score on Friday was head and shoulders above the field, next closest were Russian pair Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov with 64.60.

Following the free skate the Canadians with a total score of 199.78 points finished well ahead of the Russians (183.60) in second. Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang of China (182.00) took the bronze, though their long program was judged to be superior to the Russians.

The execution on Saturday wasn’t clean from the Canadian pairs team and they’re the first to throw up their hands and acknowledge there’s much more in them. ‘’We were happy to win today but it is not as fun when you don’t skate your best,’’ Duhamel said in a Skate Canada release. She suffered a fall on their third element, the quad Salchow throw.

‘’It’s good for us to get the quad out there at every single competition because we want to be able to land it in the program consistently by the time we get to worlds.’’

The Grand Prix Final will take place from December 11-14. The World Championships are from March 23-29 in Shanghai, China.

Like Duhamel and Radford, Weaver and Poje also led the field after their short program with a score of 67.51, a comfortable distance from challengers Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain (60.49). The Brits slipped to fifth after the free dance, but Weaver and Poje closed out strong with the highest score on Sunday and a total of 169.42.

The silver medal in ice dance went to Ksenia Mondo and Kirill Khaliavin of Russia (152.54), while Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker completed the podium with 146.41.

Poje said the ice dance duo was “very happy” after their first NHK title and are looking ahead to Barcelona.

“We left out some levels at previous competitions and we want to make sure we use this short turn around to work on that and to put out two performances that we are very proud of and that the audience enjoys in Spain.”

Canada had representation in every category at NHK. Elladj Balde and Jeremy Ten finished sixth and eighth respectively in the men’s event. Olympian Gabby Daleman was sixth in the ladies competition.