Canada’s James and Radford win pairs bronze at World Figure Skating Championships

Canada's James and Radford win pairs bronze at World Figure Skating Championships
Vanessa James and Eric Radford, of Canada, perform in the pairs free program at the Figure Skating World Championships in Montpellier, south of France, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (Photo credit: Francisco Seco/The Associated Press via The Canadian Press)

Canada’s Vanessa James and Eric Radford have ended their season on a high note, earning bronze in pairs figure skating at the world championships.

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

Radford and James earned their medal with 197.22 points, a season best for the pair. The Canadians teamed up in April 2021 after decorated careers with other partners.

`’It was amazing to have that skate,” said Radford, who at 37 is the oldest skater competing at the event in Montpellier, France. `’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 got to release and feel that skate from the heart and that’s the best feeling.”

Five of the top pairs from last month’s Beijing Olympics skipped the event to rest. Skaters from Russia were also not allowed to compete after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

James and Radford were fifth after the short program on Wednesday. They gained a spot when Americans Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc, second after the short, withdrew. Cain-Gribble was injured when she fell on a jump halfway through the program.

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

`’Everything came together just as we needed to,” said James. `’We didn’t just fight, we didn’t just skate and think about the elements we really performed it and felt comfortable on the ice.”

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

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

In men’s competition, Japanese skaters were 1-2-3 after the short program. Shoma Uno leads with 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., was 18th.

Messing, 11th at the Olympics, produced a clean program and is still in contention to equal or better his career best sixth from last year’s worlds.

`’I hit all my levels today which I didn’t do at the Olympics,” said Messing. `’I was a little bummed about the technical side of things but honestly, I stayed on my feet and kept space for bigger and better things.”

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

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

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