Eric Radford: “Our season with Vanessa was one of the best in my life. I felt very lucky to be back on the competitive ice and compete at the Olympics again.”

Posted on 2022-07-14 • No comments yet


Interview with Eric Radford for Russsian media. About James / Radford pair, emotions from the performances in the 2021/22 season, raising the age minimum and reducing the number of components.

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source: dd. 14th July 2022 by Anastasia Loginova

How was the Olympic season for you?

Eric Radford: Our season with Vanessa was one of the best in my life. I felt very lucky and grateful to be able to be back on the competitive ice after three years as a retired athlete and compete at the Olympics again. I have never expected this, never even dreamed that I would have such an experience. I felt very, very lucky. It was worth it.

Whose idea was it to start skating with Vanessa?

Eric Radford: It was just a happy accident. We got this idea at the same time. We skated together for fun during the Battle of the Blades show in Canada where skaters skate in pairs with hockey players. After the show, I said, “Why don’t we start skating? Maybe we could skate in show together.” At that time, I didn’t have big plans for the future. We just skated for fun. When we saw ourselves on video, we thought: “Wow, we look good.”

There were many factors. We looked great, I knew Vanessa had a Canadian passport because she was born here, and the Olympic season… It seems like we thought about the same thing at the same time. One day we looked at each other and thought: “Should we try to competite?” And so it happened.

At the beginning of the season, you got in shape, skated better and better. Then you got the coronavirus, right?

Eric Radford: Yes.

After covid, you decided to compete at Nationals. Why?

Eric Radford: We had only four training days before the Canadian Nationals. In training, we skated well, this is the first reason. Second, our last competitions were Golden spin of Zagreb in Croatia at the beginning of December. If the next competitions were the Olympic Games, it would be almost two months without competing. We thought that in order to prepare for the Games, it would be good if we had one more event. As soon as we started the short program, we realized that we were not ready. Everything was good in training, we thought we could do it, but without preparation it is difficult to compete. I think we pushed too hard to do more than we really could.

How can you describe your performances with Vanessa in Beijing?

Eric Radford: In the team event, we showed one of our best performances of the season. It was amazing, we felt free. Every time I stepped on the Olympic ice, I felt better than ever, taking the starting position. We felt really ready. Now I realize this more than ever in my life.

I’m always nervous. I try to pretend that I’m not at the Olympics or the World Championships, but this time I thought: “I’m here to enjoy every moment.” For me personally, it was an amazing feeling. I think Vanessa felt the same way. That flip throw in the free program at the individual competitions… I would really like to land it on the crescendo in the music that carries the energy at the end of the program. This is the only disappointing moment. We could not claim victory or intervene in the fight between Russia and China, it was impossible. We skated for ourselves and it was great. When you skate for yourself, no one can hurt you. It doesn’t matter who thinks what. I am proud of what we have achieved in such a short period of time and how we performed. Especially in competitions like the Olympics, which has such amazing energy.

Speaking of the World Championships, did you expect you to come back with a bronze medal?

Eric Radford: It was completely unexpected. During the awards ceremony, I thought I was in a dream, because I never imagined that I could feel these emotions again. I was happy that I could stand on the podium of the World Championships once again.

Have you and Vanessa been invited to ice shows?

Eric Radford: In autumn and spring we performed at Art on ice. I can’t say yet, but we have plans for a show next year.

What are your plans after the end of your career?

Eric Radford: I think I’ll try to become a coach. This is what I’m passionate about and I love it. I will also explore what other options I have. I will continue to write music. I have several compositions that I plan to release. Let’s see what happens in the future, but for the rest of my life I will work on music.

Two years ago Kamila Valieva chose your composition “Storm” for the short program. When did you find out about it?

Eric Radford: When she performed at one of the competitions at the end of the summer (most likely, we are talking about the test skates – Sport24). I was very surprised when I saw the video on YouTube, but I didn’t know anything until that moment. I was very surprised but really impressed with the way Kamila expressed the music on ice. It was a great program, I am happy that she often performed well skating it.

Do you dream of someone else skating to your music?

Eric Radford: I would like it to be as many athletes as possible. I have my own vision of how I could present my music, but other skaters feel it in a completely different way. I know Haein Lee from Korea will be skating to Storm next season. I have a few releases planned that would suit figure skating, I think. Perhaps Kamila will want to skate to another track of mine. Or someone from Russia. When I compose music, for obvious reasons, I keep a picture of figure skating in my head.

How long does it take to prepare music from writing to release?

Eric Radford: A few months. As a rule, first I compose a melody for the piano, and if there is a desire to add other instruments, for example, a violin, cello or something else, then I start writing these parts. Next, I need to ask someone to write the music so that the musicians can perform it. Then comes studio recording and mastering to release on Spotify. This takes about three to four weeks. If you count from the very beginning, it turns out several months.

If you look at the list of participants from the last World Championships, then there are literally 5-6 pairs left who have not split up or left the sport. How justified is raising the technical minimum for the next championships in this case?

Eric Radford: If I understand correctly, the technical committees in each of the disciplines look at the average scores at the World Championships and other competitions in the past season. They have to make sure they don’t overstate the technical minimum to have enough participants for next year. To be honest, I don’t really remember how many points it is now, but I know for sure that the technical committees will keep an eye on it. If the technical committees see that only four pairs make it to the World Championships, they will not allow such to happen.

How will raising the age minimum to 17 affect figure skating?

Eric Radford: Now it may seem that this will bring more problems, but the raising of the age minimum will be gradual. Skaters who reach the senior level next season will be able to continue competing two years later. I spoke about this on behalf of the athletes at the ISU congress as a member of the commission. I know that in pairs they struggle to have enough athletes. But pair skating is only a small part of figure skating. The main argument for raising the age was the health and safety of all athletes in all disciplines. I talked to the ISU Medical Commission. They have a sufficient number of studies and arguments why the age should be raised to exactly 17 years. This is important information that should not be ignored. It needs to be taken into account, so I really think that raising the age is the right decision.

What do you think about reducing the number of components? Will it be better, or will the judges’ bias increase?

Eric Radford: Difficult question. I don’t know. Nobody can predict the future. It will be more clear in the season, when we see how everything will work. I know for sure that these innovations came from the judges themselves. Judges try to correctly evaluate 11 technical elements and components in a short period of time. If you look at the scores for the components, they do not change much from skating skills to transitions and composition. When an athlete competes who skates well, but there are few transitions in his program, there is no this difference in the scores. It is impossible for one person to keep track of everything in such a short period of time. I think there is room for improvement in this area. If we simplify the criteria, then we can see the difference and more accurate evaluation of the components. I have never judged in competitions myself, but this is what I heard from the judges. They believe it will help them do their job better. It’s worth a try.

Perhaps splitting the judging panel would be more effective? When some judge the technique, while others judge the components.

Eric Radford: I agree that this can help too. This proposal was discussed at the congress. I’m only talking about what I heard from the judges. I hope this will be a step in the right direction.

I’ve noticed that component scores are very often dependent on technique. If you get a high technical score, then the components will also be high. Is this is right? After all, you can skate great but jump doubles, and the components will be low.

Eric Radford: It is difficult for one judge to evaluate everything. They have seconds to give GOE and a few minutes to remember the program. Therefore, we do not see a big difference in the components. All figure skating fans want to see artistic athletes who should be appreciated. Just like “technicians” for their skills.

Four years ago, when you and Megan skated, pair skating in Canada was at its best. Now his level has dropped significantly. Speaking about the Olympic Games, you mentioned only Russia and China as world leaders. How can the Canadian federation fix this?

Eric Radford: We have pairs that are progressing. Russian skaters are usually very strong and consistent in all disciplines. In every country, it happens that everything goes up, and then there is a decrease in results. Then new athletes appear and start a new wave. At the 2018 Games, Canada had the strongest team in recent memory. But after a very high bar, the drop in results is natural.

The population of Canada is much smaller than in other strong countries in figure skating. We need to keep working and invite as many interested children as possible to the sport, who will be in the top in the future. It’s hard to achieve high results if you don’t have enough athletes trying to achieve them, but I think that in Canada right now there is development in all disciplines. After some time, our pair skating will be restored.


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