WINDSOR, Ont. -- What Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford want fans to see is a completely believable story unfold on the ice.
What fans won't see is all the hilarious, embarrassing work that went into making it believable.
Canada's top pairs skaters, who open their Grand Prix season at this week's Skate Canada International, hired acting coach Catherine Pinard this summer in search of that extra edge for their programs. It definitely added some comedic relief to practices.
You can watch the pairs short program, along with the ladies' short program, today on TSN at 2pm et/11am pt.
"It's so fun and uncomfortable," Duhamel said. "She makes us attempt some interesting things -- a lot of improv work on the ice."
"(Pinard) will be, like, 'I want you to touch her, touch her like you want her,"' Radford said, laughing.
"She's always like, 'Why can't you just grab her and kiss her at the end of the program?"' Duhamel added. "Well, we don't do that."
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Toronto, were fifth at the world championships last spring in Nice, France, in only their second year competing together.
The third season, Radford said, is where partners really start to gel.
"Without trying everything just got better, technically, all of our elements are smoother, better landings," he said. "It makes it that much easier to just start connecting them with more complicated choreography. And so we really started to work on the story-telling aspect, the connection."
To achieve that connection, Pinard had Duhamel and Radford do things at practice like laugh throughout a footwork, or carry on a conversation during a particular section of choreography.
"Sometimes we just look at each other, like, this is just so difficult," Radford said. "Doing a triple Lutz is easier than breaking down that ball of insecurity, that lost feeling you get when you're trying to improv, stuff you don't really know.
"But each time we did it, we both kind of felt a growth inside. Then, in the last little competitions we've been doing, everybody's kind of noticed a difference."
The defending Canadian champions skate their free program to music from the soundtrack of a 2007 British film called "Angel," based on the book by Elizabeth Taylor.
Radford said he came across the music on iTunes.
"Just randomly looking for music," he said. "I just clicked on it, like, oh, this sounds good. So I went to the album and listened to it."
The movie, starring Romola Garai -- maybe best known for her role in "Atonement" -- and Sam Neill, received poor reviews.
"Every movie reviewer we read, they were like, 'My God, I had to stop watching this movie, it was awful, the acting was awful,"' Duhamel said, laughing. "We'd never heard of it. Nobody has ever heard of it. Nice music though."
Neither Duhamel nor Radford have seen the movie.
"No. I don't know if I want to," Duhamel said. "I like the music so, I want to keep a really good feeling about it."
In the ladies' competition, Amelie Lacoste of Montreal and Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, Newfoundland are the Canadian entries in a field of 10 skaters.
The 16-year-old Osmond is coming off a big win in September at the Nebelhorn Trophy event in Germany. Lacoste won the women's title at the Canadian national championships last January.
Among the top competition in the ladies' division is Kanako Murakami of Japan, who finished eighth at the world championships last spring in Moscow.