the return to grace of James, Uno on pole without Chen and Hanyu

Three years after European gold for France and the hasty end of her association with Morgan Ciprès, Vanessa James, who now skates for Canada with Eric Radford, won bronze at the World Figure Skating Championships on Thursday in Montpelier.

On the men’s side, Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu, injured and absent, the double Olympic medalist Shoma Uno took the lead of a provisionally 100% Japanese podium at the end of the short program earlier in the day.

In front of the new Canadian pair, 34 years old for James and 37 years old for Radford, the Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier knew how to perfectly take advantage of the space left vacant by the exclusion of the Russians in response to the invasion of Ukraine, and the absence of the Chinese Olympic champions: in the absence of the top 5 of the Olympic Games-2022, they, sixth in Beijing in February, were invited to the top step of the podium.

Winners with 221.09 points, they nevertheless had to skate just after the evacuation of the ice in full performance after three falls by their compatriot Ashley Cain-Gribble, associated with Timothy Leduc.

The Japanese Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara are silver medalists (199.55).

– Evacuation after three falls –

The story is beautiful for James. Forced to hasten the end of her career after the questioning at the end of 2019 of her previous partner, Morgan Ciprès, in the sending of obscene photos to a young skater of thirteen who frequented the ice rink in Florida where they had been training since 2017, she finally decided to seriously put on her skates a year ago. In Montreal, alongside Radford (37), he then retired since 2018 after two world championship titles (2015 and 2016) and Olympic bronze in 2018 with Meagan Duhamel.

“It was not a chosen decision (to stop) and I aspired to end my career with a medal in Montpellier, so I appreciate having the opportunity to do so,” she told AFP. few months ago. She didn’t mean so well.

Since the beginning of this Olympic winter, James has been skating for Canada, the country where she was born. And here she is again on a world podium after less than ten competitions with Radford. In bronze (197.32), as in 2018, then with Ciprès.

The story, on the other hand, is dramatic for Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc, second after the short program but stopped in the middle of the free program when the skater fell for the third time and could not continue. First remained on the ice, then staring into space when her partner helped her up, the 26-year-old American was evacuated on a stretcher. No information on his state of health has yet been communicated.

– Japanese threesome –

Skating Worlds: the return to grace of James, Uno on pole without Chen and Hanyu

In the men’s competition, without Chen, crowned Olympic champion in February and outgoing triple world champion, suffering from a mysterious “persistent injury”, nor Hanyu, still recalcitrant right ankle, Uno, imperial on his jumps, leads the dance with 109 .63 points, personal best improved by nearly four points. Yuma Kagiyama (18), recent Olympic vice-champion, follows with 105.69 points, and Kazuki Tomono (23) with 101.12 points.

Accustomed to international podiums since 2017 (Olympic silver and bronze in 2018 and 2022, world silver in 2017 and 2018) but never yet climbed the top step, Uno is now within reach of a first world gold, at 24 years old.

The progression of the day is to the credit of the young American Ilia Malinin: at 17 years old and for his first Worlds, he made his personal best jump by almost twenty points, just above one hundred points (100.16 against 81, 31) to secure a place at the foot of the podium.

Skating Worlds: the return to grace of James, Uno on pole without Chen and Hanyu

On the French side, a smile on the face of Adam Siao Him Fa, and frank spite on that of Kevin Aymoz.

For his first Worlds, after his 14th place at the 2022 Olympics, the first ranked tenth with a new personal best (90.97) after a successful performance on the theme of “Star Wars”.

“The fact that it’s in France gave me a boost,” he explained.

The second, he had no explanation for his triple axel which turned into a single, and relegated him to fifteenth place (85.26 points).

“I wasn’t stressed, everything was fine, I prepared so hard for four weeks… The triple axel, I know how to do it with my eyes closed, I’m very angry,” he said.

Skating Worlds: the return to grace of James, Uno on pole without Chen and Hanyu

The only Ukrainian entered in the category, Ivan Shmuratko, who comes from kyiv, qualified for the free program in 22nd position (73.99).

If he took three days to reach Montpellier, “the word difficult does not describe any situation here”, he insisted. “Skating isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is when your loved ones die from bombs.”