Meagan Duhamel: “Tuktamysheva has the respect of the whole world of figure skating on her side”
Interview with Meagan Duhamel for the Russian media. About short programs at Skate Canada 2021, Russian skaters, rivalry between Chen and Hanyu and hate she faced from the Russian fans.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 30th October by Dmitrii Kuztensov
Meagan, let’s talk about your discipline – pair skating first. Everything is clear with the Chinese, they are unique, but what do you think about the Russian pair Pavliuchenko / Khodykin? You have always loved complex elements, they also love complexity.
Meagan Duhamel: I watched their short program at the Russian Cup and thought: “Wow, this is my favorite short program among all the pairs!” It was a little messy today. They fell, choreographically they were out of the music. But the program is very complicated and that’s my style! I love this style. I really like that they’re doing a triple flip in the free program, I really like them in general.
Another significant event happened in Vancouver – now Canada has a new pair Vanessa James / Eric Radford. You know Eric better than anyone in this world. Are they also contenders for the Olympic medal, do they have enough time?
Meagan Duhamel: No, I do not think so. I don’t think that this season they have good enough programs and elements for such a goal. To compete with Russian and Chinese pairs, you have to be special. Vanessa and Eric don’t really stand out at the moment. Maybe they need more time. But the Olympics are coming soon, in February. I don’t believe they will have enough time to reach such a high level.
That is, we have only Russians and Chinese. Considering that the Games are held in Beijing, are Sui / Han favorite to win?
Meagan Duhamel: There are three favorites. Tarasova / Morozov, Mishina / Galliamov and Sui / Han. Now Mishina and Galliamov have the advantage. They have very strong sides, they have a triple-triple combination in the free program, and they are consistent. So if I was betting money, I would choose a pair of Tamara Moskvina.
How much would you bet?
Meagan Duhamel: Oh, I don’t have much money (laughs). And by February, everything can change! But I like this team, the judges like them too. My weakness is Tarasova / Morozov pair, I am rooting for them. I competed with them for a long time, they are very nice people. But they are inconsistent, and in order to win the Olympic Games, it is very necessary to be consistent.
Let’s talk about men, Chen is back after his strange performance in Vegas. Are you more team Chen or Hanyu in this rivalry?
Meagan Duhamel: I’m team Nathan. I really love his skating and him as a person. Probably Yuzu is also a wonderful person, but I don’t know him that well. But Nathan’s skating is … cool! Everything is so smooth and cool. And his quad technique is exceptional.
Don’t you think that there is not enough fire in their rivalry? Canada vs Russia in hockey is emotional, and they are both so diplomatic. Would a little more trash talk be better for sports?
Meagan Duhamel: I think you’re right. There is no drama. They are both relaxed, wish each other all the best, there’s no confrontation as such. Nathan has won very easily over the past four years. He hasn’t lost to Yuzu in years. I see no rivalry, Nathan is the first, Yuzu is behind him. Maybe people will hate me after that, but I that’s how I feel.
I hope our text won’t reach Japan. And we don’t have anyone against Chen and Hanyu? I would like to hear “Mikhail Kolyada”, of course, but there is also Yuma Kagiyama.
Meagan Duhamel: Yuma is very good. He lacks experience, so it is difficult to predict how he will behave under the pressure of the Olympic Games. I really like Kolyada, he is beautiful, classic skater, but often he doesn’t show his best level at competitions. But we saw at the Skate America what can happen when Nathan is not perfect. When you attempt five quads, mistakes are very possible. So I see the race for gold as Nathan vs Yuzu, but Skate America showed that anything is possible.
In ice dance, I can congratulate you on the victory of the Canadian duo, but since I understand little about ice dance, can I ask you about the words of the American-Russian judge Vedenin? Who said about cold skating of Papadakis and Cizeron because of his sexual orientation.
Meagan Duhamel: Yes, I heard this. You know, any point of view has a right to exist. I just think there is a difference in culture – North American, Russian. And French, perhaps. If we hear something like that in our country, we take it very seriously, because the equality of people is very important here. You cannot say such things out loud without consequences in the form of people’s reaction – that’s for sure.
Without a subsequent cancelling?
Meagan Duhamel: Partly yes, you have to be very careful. Considering the role of the judge as an official in the community. He appears to be a narrow-minded person because of saying this, that he judges the interpretation of the French pair by such reasons. In North America, there are many perspectives of interpretation for us. I heard the same thing when I skated with Eric. Not in the same words, but something like “you are not a very romantic pair, it affects the impression.” Of course, someone will see it that way. But there are different ways to achieve chemistry. You can have “chemistry” like sibling or friends.
Well, Gilles / Poirier has chemistry. Although Vedenin could have said differently.
Meagan Duhamel: That’s why, nine people are in the judging- panel. You see something as red, I see something as blue, and it turns out lilac.
Finally, let’s talk about girls. Are you not bored? Again, three Russians on the podium.
Meagan Duhamel: No, not boring, but of course I’m not surprised. We expect this result every time three Russian women come to the competitions. I’m fascinated by the intrigue – who will do the triple axel, who will do the quadruple. Who will improve compared to the previous start. My favorite among Russians is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. I respect her so much! For the fact that she continues to fight with these young skaters. And also progresses! I think she has the respect of the whole world of figure skating on her side. Yes, I understand she doesn’t get 85 points for the short program. But for her, victory is not a gold medal. She just loves to skate. And I understand this approach, it is close to me.
That is, she skates for pleasure, and Tutberidze’s girls fight? Can you see it?
Meagan Duhamel: Yes. For most Russian skaters, this is generally a job. And they push each other to the boundaries that seem unattainable for us. That’s why your female single skaters are so strong. We saw Kostornaia getting back her triple axel, last year she didn’t do it. They push the boundaries of figure skating in every aspect – difficult jumps, transition elements, consistent skating. It’s amazing. And I have not the slightest idea which of the Russian girls will be on the Olympic team. It is impossible to predict! I really hope Tuktamysheva will be there. And Trusova, she is also one of my favorites.
There is often one person you look up to. Now you have … I don’t know, hundreds of them! Those who finish in the bottom of the table at the Russian Nationals can compete on equal terms with the rest of the world.
If I remember correctly, you faced a Russian hate when you talked about Anna Shcherbakova at the World Championships. How serious was it?
Meagan Duhamel: Yes, my comment was about the Russian Nationals, where Shcherbakova said she was sick. And her coahces confirmed her illness. So I watched her in Krasnoyarsk, then we went to the World Championships, and I saw her there. So it was a phrase based on the recent observation of the athlete that she was sick at the Russian Nationals. And it was perceived so excessively, people went to extremes! I got so many hate messages. A huge number of Russians writing me hundreds of messages a day that “I hate your people.” But I answered them: yes, many of my favorite skaters are from Russia! My favorite pairs and ladies, for example.
When I was young, I was a fan of Irina Slutskaya, I wanted to be like her! And I did not address that comment to all Russian skaters or all Russians, country. Just a phrase based on past interviews. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Then a nice Russian woman said, “Maybe you should apologize? Make a post on Instagram ”. I replied that I do not mind, I will do it. But people didn’t like it anyway. Okay, this is life.
Related topics: Anastasiia Mishina Alexander Galliamov, Daria Pavliuchenko Denis Khodykin, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Evgenia Tarasova Vladimir Morozov, meagan Duhamel, Nathan Chen, Skate Canada, Vanessa James Morgan Cipres, Yuzuru Hanyu