Decorated pairs’ skaters Vanessa James, Eric Radford team up for Olympic season

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Pairs’ figure skaters Vanessa James and Eric Radford, both two-time Olympians and world and Grand Prix Final medalists with different partners and for different nations, have announced they are teaming up in time for the 2022 Olympic season.

Representing Canada, the team will train in Ontario under coach Julie Marcotte.

“Our goal is obviously to go to the Olympics,” James told CBC. “It’s a goal, a dream for us to get to the Olympics. Hopefully an Olympic medal. But it’s a process. So we’re going to take it a step at a time.”

Though she was born in Scarborough, Ontario, James has previously skated for the United States, Great Britain and France. Representing the latter with Morgan Ciprès for eight seasons, she won the 2018 Grand Prix Final and 2019 European Championships. Their resume also includes the 2018 world bronze medal, six Grand Prix medals and six French national titles.

The French federation announced the retirement of James and Ciprès in September 2020. A felony charge was filed by the Pasco County, Florida, state attorney’s office against Ciprès in December for the transmission of harmful material to a minor by an electronic device, and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to a law firm involved in the case. Ciprès has not publicly commented on the case.

Radford is a two-time world champion (2015, 2016) and 2018 Olympic pairs’ bronze medalist for Canada with Meagan Duhamel. Both skaters announced their retirement in April 2018 after a career that also included two Olympic team event medals, a Grand Prix Final title, two Four Continents titles, two world bronze medals, over a dozen Grand Prix medals and seven Canadian championships.

“I’m looking forward to this new partnership with Vanessa and getting back on the ice and doing what we love,” Radford said in a Skate Canada release. “Vanessa and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Canada this coming season and are looking forward to see what the future holds for our partnership.”

Duhamel, his partner of eight seasons, took to social media following the announcement, saying she had been “blindsided by my friend and partner.”

“I was not asked if I’d be interested in a comeback nor was I notified that Eric was considering a comeback,” her note continued. “Even if I had no intention of returning, I think a chat with me BEFOREHAND would have been respectful.”

James, 33, and Radford, 36, will be one of the oldest pairs’ teams on the scene but will benefit from their lengthy previous partnerships spent as podium contenders, and potentially from the break their bodies have had. James last competed in April 2019 and Radford in February 2018.

Canada secured two Olympic pairs’ spots for Beijing based on the results of last month’s world championships. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are heavy favorites for one of those, after winning the last two Canadian titles and finishing in the top-10 at all four of their worlds appearances.

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