Meagan Duhamel said she had no words, only screams as Eric Radford lifted her for the last time during their World Championships free skate in Boston on Saturday.
“It was an out-of-body experience,” she said.
The Canadians performed out of their minds, easily posting personal-best free skate and total scores to overtake a Chinese pair and repeat as World champions.
“How did we just do that?” Duhamel said coming off the ice, before seeing their totals in the kiss-and-cry area. “It’s like a dream.”
They tallied 231.99 points, beating Chinese short-program leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by 7.52 to keep the same one-two as last year’s World Championships.
Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot took bronze in their Worlds debut.
Russian Olympic champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov plummeted from third to sixth after their lowest-scoring free skate in more than four years, finishing outside the top two for the first time in 19 top-level international competitions.
Duhamel said that last fall she wouldn’t have predicted a medal of any color for her and Radford. They won both of their Grand Prix series starts and earned silver at the Grand Prix Final, but they were unsatisfied with their performances.
“It’s been frustration after frustration after frustration for us this season,” said Duhamel, who suffered a stomach flu at their most recent competition in February and withdrew after that short program. “You work so hard, and that frustration, it hurts you so deeply. It just feels so good when it all comes together. I can’t keep anything inside of me. I was waiting for him to put up that last lift, because I was going to explode.”
Experts tapped the Russians or Chinese as pre-Worlds favorites. Radford was cognizant of those predictions.
“I think people kind of drawn a conclusion based on our season that we weren’t quite as strong contenders,” he said. “It’s difficult not to doubt yourself when everybody else has that expectation of you.”
But they were overjoyed not only after but also during their free skate. Radford saw Duhamel pump her first after a throw triple Lutz before the scream on the last lift.
“When you can have like those sort of bursts of a moment in the middle of a program like that, it’s just like surreal,” Radford said.
Sui and Han couldn’t say the same Saturday. Their flawed skate was punctuated by a fall on a throw quadruple Salchow, ending hopes of a first World title.
“We left many regrets in this competition,” Han said through a translator. “We probably have thought so much before going into the free skate, and that led to the mistakes.”
Savchenko is no stranger to the podium. She won five World titles with former partner Robin Szolkowy, who retired after their last crown in 2014.
When she partnered with the Frenchman Massot, it took more than a year before they were cleared to compete together as a German pair.
“After all what happened, I just live my dream,” Savchenko said. “If it’s a dream come true, it’s amazing. This all emotions coming out. I’m really, really happy that I continue and I can enjoy what I love to do. Unbelievable happy.”
The two U.S. pairs — Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim and Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea — both struggled for the second straight day and finished ninth and 13th. The last U.S. pairs medal at Worlds or the Olympics came in 2002.
“I was the problem, I messed up on everything,” Scimeca said. “I don’t have proof, but I felt like my right blade kept slipping every time I was on the outside edge.”
The World Championships conclude with the women’s free skate on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
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World Championships Pairs
GOLD: Duhamel/Radford (CAN) — 231.99
SILVER: Sui/Han (CHN) — 224.47
BRONZE: Savchenko/Massot (GER) — 216.17
9. Scimeca/Knierim (USA) — 190.06
13. Kayne/O’Shea (USA) — 178.23