Taking time to smell the peonies
Meagan Duhamel and her partner Eric Radford are among the top figure skating pairs in Canada. The pair became silver medalists at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games and recently won gold at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Championship event in Nagano, Japan, in November 2015. Aside from being a dedicated athlete, Duhamel is also dedicated vegan and certified holistic nutritionist who enjoys yoga and trips to the spa. The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang are a long-term goal, Duhamel says, “But we’re really trying to stay focused in the moment.”
How do you incorporate relaxation into your training program?
I do yoga. I try to go twice a week, but usually it’s once a week. I really love yoga actually – I want to study and become a yoga instructor after I’m finished skating. [It’s] really good for me for keeping calm and also for a low-resistance training. I also get a massage twice a week from the sports massage therapist and I work regularly with osteopaths and acupuncturists as well.
How do you deal with falling during a routine, mentally and emotionally?
In competition that’s the hardest thing – once you make a mistake – smiling and continuing, because that’s what you have to do. You have to pretend like it never happened. And that comes from training. When we’re at home and we’re training, and we’re doing a run-through of our short program or our long program, if we make a mistake, we’re not allowed to stop. We have to finish. We really try to mentally block out any mistake that’s happened and move on to the next thing, because you can still have a really great performance even if you have a mistake.
Do you find that it carries over into your life, being able to deal with disappointments and failures?
I definitely think it does. Skating has taught me, from such a young age, about how to recover, how to rebound quickly. There’s no time to sulk or to be upset about something and I think mentally, skating has taught me to always look for the next thing to do, look for the next thing I can do well. And then you don’t dwell on something that went wrong. Especially when you’re in a four-minute-long program. As soon as I make a mistake I’m thinking, ‘OK, what can I do better to gain more points later in the program?’
What are the challenges of being a vegan athlete and what are the advantages?
There are definitely challenges when I’m travelling. I bring a lot of my own food, a lot of snacks and bars, but it’s kind of hard to travel with full dinners. I rely on getting lunch and dinner from the catering service that’s given to the athletes. But in my everyday training and when I travel in North America I find it quite easy to get all the nutrients that I need. I feel so much better now that I’m eating a plant-based diet and I also studied holistic nutrition, so I’m not just eating a vegan diet of potato chips and Oreos. I’m really strict with my diet and healthy food has become a big passion of mine.
What’s one thing that you do to treat yourself?
There’s a really great organic holistic spa in Montreal that I go to at least once a month and I love getting reflexology and hot oil head massage. Those are two things I treat myself to regularly. And I really love doing yoga, which is a good release for me as well.
What has been your best experience at the spa?
I really like [that] in the winter in Montreal we have a lot of outdoor spas with the hot and cold bath and my husband and I really like to go there. They have eucalyptus saunas and hot springs and cold baths, and you’re kind of in the middle of nowhere and it’s so scenic and beautiful.