Meagan Duhamel and partner Eric Radford have been World champions for 2 years now and have led the pairs discipline technically since the Sochi Olympics. Yet, despite all their accomplishments, this pair continues to be the target of criticism from skating fans, some of whom do not appreciate D/R’s style or approach to the sport. So much of the criticism of this team is over the top and unbalanced, in my opinion. I therefore feel compelled to offer just a little bit of a counterpoint!
Why should you love Meagan Duhamel?? I’ll give you 5 reasons right now. 🙂
1. Meagan is a competitive machine!! Whether you like her skating style or not, you have to respect her as a competitor. She puts in the work, and she lands those jumps. Meagan Duhamel is always there to compete and do her best. And her results are nothing if not impressive. Meagan has competed in 8 World Championships now, and she has been top 8 or better every time. She was 6th in her debut Worlds, in only her first season with Craig Buntin. And she’s been on the podium for 4 straight years now. That’s quite a record.
2. Meagan had to find her own path to become a champion. There are certain fortunate, gifted skaters who become the idols/darlings of the figure skating world. They get promoted and talked up by skating insiders and are often breathlessly adored by fans. We all know who those skaters are. Meagan Duhamel has never been one of them. She has never, to my knowledge, been anyone’s great hope in skating, or the object of cult-like fan worship. Yet she has persevered and reached the top regardless. That takes character.
3. Meagan is passionate about everything she does. From figure skating to veganism, from animal rights to healthy living, if she’s into it, she’s behind it 100%. You don’t meet many people who really live their life with that level of commitment and passion. I find it an endearing, and exciting, quality of Meagan’s.
4. Meagan is very open & approachable for such a top athlete. She’s shared her views and experiences in in-depth interviews with PJ Kwong and TSL. And last year she started her own blog, Lutz of Greens, where she has posted some very revealing, even soul-searching, essays about her journey as a competitive athlete. Not only that, she regularly interacts with fans on Twitter, Facebook, etc. (as does partner Eric Radford). Meagan & Eric have been candid about the hurt and pain that online comments can cause. Yet they still choose to remain open and accessible to the world via social media. I see Duhamel/Radford as leading the pace in an era in which relationships between athletes, media, and fans are rapidly evolving.
5. Last, but not least, Meagan Duhamel is a true fan of figure skating. In a terrific column this spring, Meagan talked about how she grew up obsessively watching and rewatching figure skating competitions on TV. These days, she remains a fan and can often be found on Twitter looking for livestream links or results from junior competitions or senior B events. She keeps up with her fellow Canadian skaters, often sending messages of support. Bottom line: Meagan Duhamel is as much of a figure skating fan as any of us. And I absolutely love this about her!!
Plus, 2 Extra Reasons to Love Eric Radford
I don’t know quite as much about Meagan’s talented partner, Eric Radford, as I do about Meagan. But, here are 2 bonus reasons to love Eric, too! 🙂
1. Eric is a musician! In a sport where music plays such a huge role, many skaters actually have surprisingly little knowledge of music. Eric is different. Not only is he a trained pianist, he’s actually a composer as well. He composed the music for Duhamel/Radford’s successful 2013-14 Tribute short program. And this year, Patrick Chan has selected Eric’s music for his long program; a collaboration I very much look forward to seeing! Eric’s understanding of, and feeling for, music is also evident in his skating; he’s widely noted for his line and interpretive ability.
2. Eric is–and will always be—a pioneer in this sport: The first top-level pairs skater to come out as gay. Although Eric’s announcement of his orientation didn’t get quite the same press as when Brian Boitano or Johnny Weir came out, I think his decision was just as important within the skating world. Pairs skating, by its very nature, is arguably the discipline where male and female skaters play the most gender-traditional roles. The expected strength and masculinity of the male skater is constantly on display in lifts and throws, while the female skater provides decorative visual appeal with beautiful positions in lifts and death spirals. Further playing up the intrinsic nature of the sport, many pairs programs have undeniably romantic themes/choreography. Coming out as gay in a sport that is so specifically gender-traditional strikes me as especially brave. You have to think that young gay pairs skaters will long see Eric as a very important figure in raising awareness of, and normalizing, the participation of gay men in pairs skating.
So there you have it: Lots of reasons to love reigning World champions Duhamel/Radford. (In addition, of course, to their exciting, often uplifting skating.) Everyone has their opinion, and I suppose I won’t change many of the naysayers’ minds. But as we head toward the new season in pairs, anticipating Duhamel/Radford’s season debut at Finlandia Trophy, I couldn’t resist putting a few thoughts out there about why this team is worth rooting for, even aside from their exceptional skating! 🙂