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Vanessa James retires from competitive figure skating for second time

End of an era: Vanessa James and Eric Radford have announced their retirement from competitive figure skating

Bermudian Vanessa James has announced her retirement from competitive figure skating for the second time.

Having previously stepped away from the sport amid allegations that her pairs partner Morgan Ciprès sent lewd photographs to an underage girl on Instagram, in 2020, James made a surprising return to the rink last year, partnering Eric Radford — who also came out of retirement — with the ambition of representing Canada at the Winter Games in Beijing earlier this year.

James, a European champion and world championship bronze medal-winner, and Radford, a two-times world champion and three-times Olympic medal-winner, achieved their aim, going on to finish twelfth in pairs event in February before capping their one season together three weeks later with a bronze medal at the World Championships in France.

However, the pair look set to leave the sport for good, having confirmed remitment once again.

“Through ups and downs, joy and disappointment, I have been blessed with many people who have believed in me, encouraged me, and provided me with the skill set both on and off the ice to make my dreams come true,” James told the Skate Canada website.

James, whose father Kevin is Bermudian, was born in Ontario, Canada, but lived in Bermuda until the age of 10 when her family moved to Virginia.

She added: “I am endlessly grateful for each and every coach, mentor, team-mate and staff member that has contributed to my journey and success throughout the last 23 years. To my fans, your constant love and support through the years means the world to me.

“To Skate Canada, Julie [Marcotte, coach] and Eric specifically, thank you for giving me the opportunity and the courage to rise again, and continue my passion and love for skating.

“To my parents, who have relentlessly and unshakeably continued to support me in all of my endeavours, I owe you everything.

“Representing Canada has been an honour, and a privilege. I truly feel like the stars have aligned and everything has come full circle. As I hang up my competitive figure skates, I feel complete, and my heart is so full.”

As well as their Winter Olympic and World Championship appearances, the pair also enjoyed success at a number of other events, earning four top-five finishes and a silver medal at the 2021 Autumn Classic International.

“We are very proud of what Vanessa and Eric have accomplished through this season culminating in a bronze medal at Worlds,” Skate Canada high-performance director Mike Slipchuk said in a release. “Skate Canada wishes both Vanessa and Eric the best in their future plans.”

Before announcing their partnership in April last year, the pair enjoyed decorated careers in which James, 34, previously represented France with Cipres, while Radford, 37, skated with Meagan Duhamel.

James and Cipres won world bronze in 2018 and took European gold the next year, while Radford and Duhamel won seven straight national pairs titles from 2012 to 2018.

They won back-to-back world crowns in 2015 and 2016, and earned bronze in pairs and gold in the team event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“Almost 30 years ago at the age of 8, I started skating. Skating has shaped my life in many ways and given me some of my most amazing memories,” Radford said.

“I find it funny and unexpected to be writing about ending my competitive career for a second time, but like last time, there are many people who supported, pushed and inspired me along this journey that I am so grateful for.

“To all the incredible coaches who shaped me not only as a skater, but as a person, thank you. Thank you to Meagan Duhamel for all we accomplished together and especially to Julie Marcotte and Vanessa. Thank you to them for giving me one of the best years of my life and believing in me when I needed it the most.”

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Published July 12, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated July 13, 2022 at 7:52 am)

Vanessa James retires from competitive figure skating for second time

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