Meagan Duhamel has unfinished business
Meagan Duhamel isn’t done with figure skating. The sport has been her life for the last 25 years. It has led her from a three-year-old youngster learning to skate in Lively at the Walden Arena, to the podium at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games with a silver medal around her neck.
Figure skating has helped Duhamel define herself as a person and an athlete — an individual who never gives up on her dreams and stays true to her passion no matter what happens.
Duhamel and skating partner, Eric Radford, have dedicated themselves to another season of competing against the best in the world. After a stressful, and, at times heartbreaking eight-year run to make Team Canada for the 2014 Olympics, Duhamel still has as much fire to compete as she always has.
There is no other choice for her but to keep competing and taking another shot at being at the top of a podium at a world championship event.
“Eric and I have committed to one more year of skating and competing because we feel we have more to offer and give,” Duhamel said. “I have achieved more than I ever thought I would in my career … (but) there is more to do. We will skate to just satisfy ourselves.
“We want to see what we can do when we don’t stress about everything we can’t control like judges and results,” she continued. “If we feel we still love skating after the next year, that is great and we keep going. If we feel satisfied, we will move on to doing just shows or coaching. It is a decision that will come when we feel fulfilled.”
Duhamel chased her Olympic dreams for years and years. She went through different partners and numerous injuries, setbacks, mishaps and other hurdles on her way to becoming a silver medal-winning Olympic athlete. Duhamel and Radford earned silver medals at Sochi with Team Canada in the inaugural team figure skating event.
The Olympic experience will be locked away forever in Duhamel’s mind and heart.
“It meant everything to myself and everyone who has been with me on the journey to make the Olympics,” Duhamel said. “It was everything I had done for the last 25 years. It was cool to stand on the Olympic podium and share it with the other skaters who I grew up skating with in Canada. It was a special moment in my life.”
Duhamel soaked up her Olympic experience. Aside from standing on the podium and receiving a silver medal, she couldn’t pin-point one highlight that stood out from the others — there was just too much to absorb at any given time.
“It put everything in perspective about sport for me,” she said. “We did well in the team competition, but we didn’t do our best in the individual long program. We got to experience the triumph of the Olympics and the heartbreak of the Olympics. I will remember the way other athletes handled their victories and failures. I talked to one athlete who finished 15th and was so happy and excited. The Olympics was the destination. The journey to get there was more amazing. I learned a lot at the Olympics.”
Back in 2010, Duhamel was on the brink of quitting skating. After failing to qualify for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Duhamel hit a crossroads in her career. Her former partner, Craig Buntin, retired and she also contemplated leaving the sport as a competitor. She joined forces with Radford — another skater who, at the time, was teetering on the edge of packing it in — for one more shot at making their dreams become a reality.
Quit is a word with which Duhamel is unfamiliar.
“Through all the years and hardships, I had this one little beat in my soul I would make the Olympics,” she said. “I knew I would always do it. I always believed I could do it. I don’t know where it came from, but it was in me and it never left me no matter what happened.”
Following the Olympics, Duhamel and Radford were right back in competition at the 2014 world championship, where they defended their bronze medal from 2013. Their season concludes on tour with Stars on Ice from April to May.
They’ll take four weeks off in June, rather than the usual two weeks, before getting back into training and preparing for the Grand Prix circuit in the fall.
“Skating is never-ending,” Duhamel said. “There is nothing else I would rather be doing right now.”