PIERREFONDS, Que. – Vanessa James and Eric Radford launched their new partnership for Canada with a silver medal in pairs on Friday at the Autumn Classic International figure skating competition.
This past April, two-time world champion and three-time Olympic medallist Radford announced he was coming out of retirement to skate for Canada once again. But this time it was with new partner Vanessa James, a European champion and world championship medallist who formerly competed for France.
Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan stayed in first place for the victory Friday with 204.06 points followed by the new Canadian pair with 184.01. Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc of the U.S. hung on for third with 170.64.
Skating to Harry Styles, James and Radford opened with a solid triple twist and executed a clean throw triple Salchow later on. But they were shaky on their side-by-side jumps with James falling once and stepping out of another.
‘’We were hoping for better obviously,’’ said Radford, 36. ‘’But there’s so much for us we have to keep in perspective, and we are finding out how to do this. We know we are going to have a clearer target at our next competition. We have a huge opportunity here and that’s how we are going to take this.’’
‘’For me it’s a learning lesson on how to control my stress,’’ added the 33-year-old James, born in Scarborough, Ont. ‘’I’m taking this as a step in our career.’’
Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil, Que., missed a berth on the podium by less than a point finishing fourth at 169.91 while Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland of Levis, Que., remained seventh.
In the women’s free skate, Marilena Kitromillis of Cyprus won the gold ahead of two South Koreans: Young You and Seoyeon Ji.
Emily Bausback of Vancouver, B.C. was the top Canadian climbing from ninth to seventh. Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., was eighth and Alison Schumacher of Tecumseh, Ont., 10th.
“There’s a lot of positive takeaways from this competition,’’ said Bausback, whose free skate ranked sixth. ‘’I learned a lot about myself and how to deal with my nerves. It’s something I can build on going into Skate Canada International.’’
In ice dancing, world championship bronze medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto, Ont. are first after the rhythm dance with 83.35, Olivia Smart of Adrian Diaz of Spain are second at 75.20 and Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the U.S. third at 73.93.
‘’We were very pleased with our speed today because it’s always hard to come out for the first event and not overdo it,’’ said Gilles. ‘’We skated very sensible and considering where we are in the season, we are super happy.’’
There are three other Canadian entries: Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of St-Hubert, Que., are fourth at 71.27, Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver are fifth at 65.11 and Haley Sales of Kelowna, B.C., and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Langley, B.C. are sixth at 59.91.
All three entries in men’s competition are Canadian. After the short program, Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., is first with 80.82 points, Bennet Toman of Brampton, Ont., second at 63.30 and Beres Clements of Gibson, B.C., third at 55.48.
‘’I was really nervous and holding back on some of the jumps,’’ said Orzel, 21, in his third season at the senior level.
The ISU Challenger Series provides an opportunity for senior skaters to compete at an international level and earn world ranking points.
Competition ends Saturday at the Pierrefonds Sportplexe with the men’s free skate and the free dance.
Full results: https://results.skatecanada.ca/2021ACI/