Vanessa James and Eric Radford finished just off the medal podium at Skate Canada Credit: Skate Canada/Danielle Earl Photography

With five Olympic appearances between them, the pairs team of Vanessa James and Eric Radford formed their partnership earlier this year in the hopes of earning a spot on the Canadian Olympic team bound for Beijing in February. James, who previously represented France, is now skating for Canada, the country in which she was born. Radford has represented Canada in his two Olympic appearances, winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

James and Radford participated in two competitions earlier this fall, Autumn Classic and Finlandia Trophy, and made their Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada last weekend, finishing fourth. With each competition, they examine areas they want to improve, including the overall presentation.

“Every competition we have, we learn from,” said James. “We’re gaining experience and momentum. It’s trying to get each element the way that we can do them in practice and outside of the program with the same quality and flow. Each time that we’re trying to make sure that we have the speed, the fluidity and the great transitions to achieve the big elements in the quality that we have at home.”

The duo train in Montreal with coach and choreographer Julie Marcotte. James’ former French teammate, World Ice Dance Champion Guillaume Cizeron, has also choreographed for them. While James and Radford both have long, elegant lines and great musicality, they brought different techniques to their partnership, and have worked hard to get in sync for this important season.

“Vanessa is an exceptionally powerful and beautiful figure skater,” said Radford. “A big reason why I wanted to do this comeback is the way that I feel when I skate with her and how it’s opened some doors for me to express myself in different ways than I did with Meagan [Duhamel, his previous partner]. That aspect is something that has fueled my motivation every day that we have been in practice.”

James noted their similar musicality—Radford is an accomplished musician and composer. She said there hasn’t been a bad day in practice. “There are some easy days and some harder days, but every day is very constructive,” James said. “We have the same work ethic and he is bringing out this passion for the second mark [presentation].

“With Eric it’s really about feeling the music and being able to share that passion and artistry and try to portray that to the audience,” she continued. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction. Skate Canada is a step to where we want to go, which is hopefully the Olympics.”

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