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Canada’s James, Radford win pairs bronze at figure skating worlds

Canada’s Vanessa James and Eric Radford have concluded their season — and perhaps their career together — on a high note, earning bronze in pairs figure skating at the world championships in Montpellier, France.

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, from Balmertown, Ont., and the Toronto-born James earned their medal with 197.22 points, a season’s best for the pair. The Canadians came out of retirement to team up last April 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. “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 were absent, counting the Russian silver and bronze medalists in Beijing after the Russian team was banned from the event due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong and Chinese teammates Peng Cheng and Jin Yang are also absent from worlds.

James and Radford were fifth after the short program on Wednesday. They got 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 concluded fourth, in the standings.

“Everything came together just as we needed to,” said James, who competed for France before teaming up with Radford. “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.”

James and Radford haven’t said whether they’re retiring after the worlds.

“It would just be so exciting to explore what we’re capable of, to be able to just work and really explore new programs and maybe some different styles and then start from where we are now, it would be so exciting and it would be really fulfilling,” Radford said last week. “But as you can imagine, I’m 37, you have to feel very, very motivated.”

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