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MONTPELLIER, France – Canadians Vanessa James and Eric Radford concluded their first season together with a bronze medal in pairs on Thursday at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the U.S. won the gold medal with 221.09 points. Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan were second at 199.55 and James and Radford completed the podium with a season’s best 197.32.

The veteran Canadian skaters 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 in the standings.

‘’It was amazing to have that skate,’’ said Radford, now living in Montreal. ‘’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.’’

Both Radford and James joined forces in April 2021 after decorated careers with other partners.

‘’Everything came together just as we needed to,’’ said James, from Toronto. ‘’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.

‘’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 are 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 is ninth and Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., is 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.’’

Sadovsky opened with a perfect quad Salchow but had to fight to land his other jumping elements.

‘’I wanted to have like a fresh start for this competition,’’ said Sadovsky. ‘’I took a  break after the Olympics to recover, rethink some things and I was motivated to finish the season with some confidence.’’

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

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/season2122/wc2022/