Rob's Blog: Around the World in London

Susan D. Russell
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford

Mother Nature, as she often likes to remind us rather tersely in these parts, isn’t done with winter here just yet. A dose of snow, buffeted by high winds, slushy sidewalks ... all of that greeted those folks beating a path to Budweiser Gardens today. But each and every one of them still managed a spring in their step. After all, it’s Day 1 of Worlds.

And with the moment finally upon us, this blog rises back to life once again — just in time for the grandest event of the season.

But the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships carry an extra importance, as the entry totals for each country for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will be determined here this week.

No wonder, then, there’s an extra buzz in the air.
One that even Mother Nature can’t spoil.

It’s the kind of enthusiasm you’re most likely to see from a teenage girl at those truly big moments. You know, like anything that involves Justin Bieber.

For Meagan Duhamel, it’s always about skating moments. The biggest one yet for the 27-year-old Canadian and her partner Eric Radford, who briefly saw their names on top of the pairs leaderboard with a 73.61-point score after a sublime short program. They finished second behind Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, the reigning European champions, who scored 75.84).

And there was the admittedly excitable Duhamel, almost on cue, bouncing up and down when their performance was done — just like a 14-year-old who might have just met ... well, you know. Not that Radford didn’t feel the same way.

“Eric’s excitement is more introverted,” said Duhamel. “He’s equally as excited, but he’s more introverted. My excitement is definitely extroverted.”
Yeah, but can he match his partner’s leaping ability?

“Yes,” the 27-year-old Radford said with a grin.

“We’ll see Friday,” added Duhamel.

Honesty award of the day (so far at least) goes to Robin Szolkowy. He and partner Aliona Savchenko, who are the reigning four-time World champions, recorded a season’s best score of 73.47 points to place third in the short program. But sometimes, the numbers don’t exactly tell the truth.

“Our skating was not as good as the points,” said Szolkowy. “It was not personal best skating. But we tried our best, and we look forward to Friday.”

They're into the figure skating spirit everywhere you turn here in London.

Or, in this case, spirits.

One local eatery, Abruzzi, is offering up a skating-themed cocktail list to its customers this week.

Listed on the drink menu: Tessa and Scott Perfect 10.0, Barbara Ann Scott Sweetheart, The Joannie Rochette Rocks It, The Kurt Browning Quad, The Stojko, The Jeffrey Buttle Rebuttle and my personal favourite, the Salé and Pelletier Golden Scandal.

Then there's the servers at Jack Astors, located near the media hotel, who were spotted clad in T-shirts bearing phrases like this: "I Once Ate A Triple Salchow" (sounds rather tasty) and "I Bribed The ISU Judges With Nachos."

Yep, everyone's just a little skating crazy in the Forest City these days.