Canadians James and Radford win pairs bronze at World Figure Skating Championships

MONTPELLIER, France — Canadians Vanessa James and Eric Radford ended their season — and possibly their careers together — on a high, capturing bronze in pair figure skating at the world championships.

MONTPELLIER, France — Canadians Vanessa James and Eric Radford ended their season — and possibly their careers together — on a high, capturing bronze in pair figure skating at the world championships.

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the US, won the gold on Thursday with a score of 221.09. Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won silver with 199.55.

Radford, of Balmertown, Ont., and James, a Toronto native, earned their medal with a season-best 197.22 points for the pair. The Canadiens came out of retirement to team up last April after decorated careers with other partners.

“It was amazing to have that skate,” said Radford, who at 37 is the oldest skater to compete in the event. “It was an incredible and unforgettable experience for us even as experienced competitors that we are.

“The technical aspects were there today, but we really had to let go and feel this skate with the heart and that’s the best feeling.”

Five of the best duos from last month’s Beijing Olympics were absent, including Russian silver and bronze medalists in Beijing after the Russian team was banned from the event due to the invasion of Ukraine by the country. Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong and Chinese teammates Peng Cheng and Jin Yang are also absent from the world championships.

James and Radford were fifth after Wednesday’s short program. They moved up a spot when Americans Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc, second after the court, retired. Cain-Gribble was injured when she fell on a jump midway through the program.

The Canadians also passed Georgian couple Karina Safina and Luka Berulava, who ultimately finished fourth in the standings.

“Everything fell into place as it should,” said James, who competed for France before teaming up with Radford. “We didn’t just fight, we didn’t just skate and think about the elements that we really performed and felt comfortable on the ice.”

James and Radford have not said whether they will retire after the world championships.

“It would be so exciting to explore what we are capable of, to be able to just work and really explore new programs and maybe different styles and then start where we are now, it would be so exciting and it would be really fulfilling,” Radford said last week. “But as you can imagine, I’m 37, you must be feeling very, very motivated.”

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., moved from eighth to sixth with 176.02 points.

“We had to fight for some elements, it wasn’t easy,” Walsh said. “We were really trying to enjoy this performance which is the last of the year and not feel too tense.”

On the men’s side, the Japanese skaters were 1-2-3 after the short program. Shoma Uno leads at 109.63, Yuma Kagiyama is second at 105.69 and Kazuki Tomono third at 101.12.

Canadian champion Keegan Messing was ninth and Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., 18th.

Messing, 11th at the Olympics, produced a clean program and is still in contention to match or better his career-best sixth at the world championships last year.

“I hit all my levels today, which I didn’t at the Olympics,” Messing said. “I was a bit disappointed with the technical side of things, but honestly I stayed on my feet and saved room for bigger and better things.”

Competition continues Friday with the women’s free skate and rhythm dance. The men’s free skate is Saturday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 24, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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