Canadian ice dancers Stairs and Royer climb standings at ISU Junior Grand Prix

ST-GERVAIS, France – Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., produced the sixth best free skate to finish seventh overall in ice dancing Saturday to conclude the first stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Angelique Abachkina and Louis Thauron of France won the gold medal with 152.17 points. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of the U.S. took the silver at 148.38 and Sofia Polischuk and Alexander Vakhnov of Russia were third at 137.77.

The Canadians produced a strong free skate to The Beatles hits Here Comes the Sun and Something and to finish with the best ISU Junior Grand Prix result of their career. They were eighth at their two Junior Grand Prix assignments last season.

“It felt a lot stronger than the short program,” said Stairs, 16. “We were more in tune together and skated really well. We kept our positive attitude after a rough short program and that really helped. We wanted to do our absolute best.”

It was a 1-2 Russian finish in men’s singles with Roman Savosin taking the gold and Ilia Skirda the silver. Koshiro Shamada of Japan was third.

Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., was 11th and Eric Liu of Edmonton gained two spots for 15th. Liu landed his first career triple Axel in competition in Friday’s short program.

“It was a great experience,” said Liu about his international debut. “I got way more nervous than before and it was good to learn it now. I felt my jumping is where it should be at this point but I definitely messed up my spins.”

On Friday, 13-year-old Olivia Gran of Kelowna, B.C., made a strong climb in the standing jumping from 13th after the short program to ninth overall. She had the eighth best free skate.

“It didn’t go the way I plan but there is some learning experience taken out of it,” said Gran about her international debut. “The level of competition was really good and I was impressed by the high scores.”

The second stop on the circuit is this Thursday to Friday in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Complete results: ISU JGP St. Gervais 2016

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