Olympic and World competition are nothing new to Vanessa James and Eric Radford, but this week marks the Canadian pair team’s debut as a partnership at the World Figure Skating Championships. Skating together for one year, the duo finished 12th at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, but with the absence of the Russian pairs and the Olympic gold medalists from China, they are hopeful of moving closer to the medal podium.
Since competing in Beijing, James, 34, and Radford, 37, spent time in Europe performing with Art on Ice, which both found exhilarating. “Not only did we really enjoy ourselves, but I think that training-wise it left us in a really good place,” said Radford. Once they returned to their training base in Montreal their practices were very productive.
James, who was born in Canada, described herself as “super motivated” heading into the World Championships, which are being held in France, the country that she represented at three previous Olympics and 10 World Championships.
At the Olympics, James and Radford participated in both the figure skating team event, which was at the start of the Games, and in the pairs competition, which was the final skating event. Unlike at previous Olympics, due to health protocols skaters could not leave and train in other cities. That meant they had limited ice time each day.
“We definitely had to balance our energy and the way we worked,” said James. “We tried to hone in and focus on ourselves, what our goals were at each practice, and I think we achieved that. During the off time, we did yoga together, we did our cardio training, we tried to rest up. We tried to make sure that everything felt like we were doing our normal training at home.”
Heading into the World Championships, James joked they’ve “had a lot of debuts” for skaters with so much experience. “We’re really starting to feel comfortable,” she said. “It feels like everything is coming together. We are secure and confident in each element that we’re doing. I think going into this competition we just want to enjoy it like we did at the Olympics and fight a little bit harder. We have even more comfort, stability and confidence because we had that Olympic experience. It would be great to do two clean programs like we know we can.”