Waiting in the wings as stressful as figure skating itself
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Eric Radford was fortunate his arm wasn’t bruised from all the times Meagan Duhamel was hitting it.
Bruno Massot barely could sit still watching the television. Partner Aliona Savchenko couldn’t watch at all.
They call it the green room, where figure skaters wait after they are done performing and while others finish. It can be more like a courtroom awaiting the jury’s verdict.
“Waiting in the green room was more stressful than even before we skated our program,” said Massot, who combined with Savchenko to surge from fourth place to the gold medal Thursday. “You watch and you wait to see how the other couples do, and you wait some more.”
Of course, the nervous idle time was worth it.
“During the last program, when we saw it,” Massot said, referring to mistakes by a Russian pair that could have grabbed the gold from the Germans, “I turned to Aliona and said: ‘Be ready. Something will happen.’”
What happened was golden. And both Savchenko and Massot broke down in tears.
“I couldn’t,” Massot said of keeping his composure. “It’s just that I keep my tears for the right moment.”
The final moments were just as difficult for Canada’s Duhamel and Radford. At least they already had a medal in their pockets, gold from the team event.
Still, they said they were “nervous wrecks” when they headed from the kiss-and-cry area to the green room. Two more couples would skate, and while the Canadians were behind the Germans, they had a shot at silver or bronze.
“It was a long time to wait,” Radford said. “You do all you can, you have done your job, and then it is out of your control. You tell yourself you can’t control it anymore, but that doesn’t change how difficult it is to watch.”
Making it tougher: Duhamel kept tapping her partner’s arm.
“I was telling Eric, ‘I think we can do it,’” she said.
“And I said I have no expectation until I see the scores,” he added.
But Duhamel kept telling him, “Give me hope, give me hope.”
“I tried,” Radford said with a shrug. “I had hope, but it’s more nerve-wracking than any other time.”
When Sui Wenjing and Han Cong completed their program and moved ahead of the Canadians, it got even more dicey for them to make the podium. The Chinese fell short of the Germans’ Olympic record of 235.90, however, assuring Savchenko and Massot at least silver.
Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who came into the free skate barely behind the Chinese, struggled mightily in the free skate.
As soon as their scores were posted and they had sunk to fourth, the celebrations began for the four green roomers.
Gold to Savchenko-Massot; bronze to Duhamel-Radford in their final competition.
“We were in an environment where we were comfortable, feeling like we were home,” Duhamel said, referring to the arena, the ice itself, perhaps everything about these Olympics.
Except the green room.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org