Satisfying start for James and Radford at the Autumn Classic International

PIERREFONDS, Que. – The new Canadian pairs partnership of Vanessa James and Eric Radford made its international debut on Thursday and earned a satisfying second place in the short program at the Autumn Classic International figure skating competition, the second stop on the ISU Challenger Series.

This past April, two-time world champion and three-time Olympic medallist Eric Radford announced he was coming out of retirement to skate for Canada once again, but this time with new partner Vanessa James, a European champion and world championship medallist who formerly competed for France.

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan are in first place after Thursday’s short with 72.32 points, James and Radford follow at 68.29 and Ashley Cain Gribble and Timothy Leduc of the USA are third at 59.58.

Skating to a song called First Time, the Canadians had one mishap when James fell on the side-by-side jump.

‘’When we get out there, we’re waiting to find how we feel exactly,’’ said Radford, 36, from Balmertown, Ont.

‘’We need a little bit more time to figure that out. I think by the end of the season with a bit more comfort we are really going to be able to be able to bring the joy of our skating which is where we connect.’’

James agreed that she and Radford are trying to work towards a point where their experience will be more obvious on the ice.

‘’For today we felt like we had a really great time and performed it,’’ said the 33-year-old born in Scarborough, Ont. ‘’In six months to put two programs together, learning and still mastering all of our elements, we are doing a really good job.’’

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil, Que., also in their debut as a team, are fourth at 57.83 and Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland of Levis, Que., are seventh at 51.17.

‘’It went O.K.,’’ said Stellato-Dudek. ‘’We’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity so a bit disappointed. Practice had been much, much better.’’

Matte and Ferland were fifth at this event in 2018.

‘’We know we can do better,’’ said Ferland. ‘’Some elements were good and we are working on consistency which has to improve much more.’’

The women’s short program was also held Thursday. Marilena Kitromilis of Cyprus is first followed by two South Koreans: Seoyeon Ji and Young You.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., is the top Canadian in eighth, Emily Bausback of Vancouver is ninth and Alison Schumacher of Tecumseh, Ont., 10th.

‘’I’m happy to be back competing internationally,’’ said Daleman, 23, a two-time Olympian. ‘’But from a skating perspective that was awful.’’

Bausback also wanted to do better.

‘’I’m a little bit disappointed with how I skated,’’ said Bausback, 19, the 2020 national senior champion. ‘’It wasn’t how I skated in training. But it was super awesome to compete again in front of a panel of judges and I had a great time.’’

The ISU Challenger Series provides an opportunity for senior skaters to compete at an international level and earn world ranking points.

Competition continues through to Saturday at the Sportplexe Pierrefonds.

Full results:

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