Great start for Séguin and Bilodeau; Canadian juniors with two gold at 2016 Autumn Classic International

PIERREFONDS, Que. – Canadian pairs Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., showed fine form in their season debut on Friday to stand first after the short program at the 2016 Autumn Classic International figure skating competition.

Séguin and Bilodeau, who produced an impressive first-season at the senior level last winter only to miss the world championships due to injury, earned 71.40 points. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran of the U.S. are second at 67.50 and Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France third at 65.58.

“It was pretty amazing, the crowd was with us before we even skated. We’re glad to be back in full force with an excellent performance,’’ said Séguin who suffered a bone bruise in a fall last winter at nationals and says she is now pain-free. “We delivered a program like we are used to, so we can finally put the injuries behind us and look forward!”

After winning the silver at the world juniors two seasons ago, they won two medals on ISU Grand Prix circuit in 2015-16 and were fourth at the Grand Prix Final.

Camille Ruest of Rimouski, Que., and Andrew Wolfe of Balmertown, Ont., are fourth at 64.40.

In the men’s short program, Keegan Messing of Sherwood Park, Alta., is third with Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan in the lead. Bennet Toman of Brampton, Ont., is fourth.

In the women’s short program, Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. stands first followed by Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan and Na Hyun Kim of South Korea.

Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is sixth, Michelle Long of Newmarket, Ont., 10th and Larkyn Austman of Coquitlam, B.C. 13th.

Virtue and Moir dazzle

In Thursday’s short dance, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made a spectacular return to competition producing 77.72 points. Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen of Denmark are second at 63.26 and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of the U.S. third at 62.70.

‘’What’s surprised me is how much we still enjoy it and we’re hoping we can keep that way all the way through to Korea [the 2018 Olympics],’’ said Moir from Ilderton, Ont. ‘’We want to enjoy every second, even the high pressure situations like this.”

Virtue and Scott, the 2010 Olympic champions and two-time world champs, were competing for the first time since earning silver at the 2014 Sochi Games.

“We’re thrilled to share our material and be back in the swing of things,” said Virtue, 27 of London, Ont. “Emotionally, mentally and physically our approach was right.

Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of Barrie, Ont., are seventh while Haley Sales of Burnaby, B.C. and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Langley, B.C., are ninth.

Canada wins two gold in junior competition

In junior competition, Edrian Paul Celestino of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., won the gold medal in men’s competition while Iliya Kovler of Richmond Hill, Ont., was third.

‘’I was really exhausted after the free program but relieved as well,’’ said Celestino. ‘’This was my last junior international competition and I’m excited about the next step forward.’’

In women’s junior competition, Aurora Cotop of Toronto was the winner and Olivia Gran of Kelowna, B.C. second.

‘’I knew the other scores going into my free skate and I just did what I had to do,’’ said Cotop, 14. ‘’There’s still a lot to work on in my program but I felt I connected well with the music and the overall performance was strong.’’

Competition ends Saturday.

Full results: 2016 Autumn Classic International.

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