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James finishes with a flourish

Vanessa James and pairs skating partner Morgan Cipres produced their best display at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, yesterday.

However, it was not enough to land them a place on the podium.

The 2017 European Championships bronze medal-winners who compete for France, finished an impressive fifth among the 16 finalists with a combined score of 218.53 at the completion of the pairs free skating event at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

James, the former Mount Saint Agnes Academy pupil, and Cipres went into the final event of the pairs skating competition with their medal hopes intact after finishing sixth in the short programme 24 hours earlier.

Despite coming up short of the podium the pair improved upon their previous best Olympic showing of tenth, which they achieved in Sochi in 2014.

Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, of Germany, vaulted from fourth place to the top spot to claim both a pairs free skate world record and an Olympic gold medal after wowing the judges with a brilliant performance.

For Savchenko it was her first gold medal — in her fifth Olympic appearance — with her new partner Massot.

Savchenko won bronze medals in 2010 in Vancouver and 2014 in Sochi. She now ties the medal record in Olympic pairs skating with three medals.

“Today I wrote history,” Savchenko told the Games official website. “This is what counts. It is my moment. We celebrated new year together and we said 2018 will be our year and it became our year.”

Massot added: “I got the gold medal in my head. Yesterday I said I don't want her to come back with another bronze medal. She deserved this gold medal.”

Silver went to world champions and overnight leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, of China, and the bronze to Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who edged out Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov for third place.

Tarasova and Morozov, the two-times and reigning European champions, are among the 169 Russians invited by the International Olympic Committee after meeting the anti-doping criteria to compete as independent athletes and are referred to as “Olympic Athletes from Russia”.

Russia are banned from the Games and the forthcoming Winter Paralympics, as a consequence of the 2016 McLaren report, which claimed that more than 1,000 of the country's sportspeople benefited from state-sponsored doping.

Representing Bermuda in Pyeongchang is Tucker Murphy, who competed overnight in the 15km freestyle cross-country skiing event.

Murphy made his third appearance at the Games, having finished 88th in Vancouver in 2010 before improving on that display with an 84th-place finish in Sochi.

The 36-year-old is only the third Bermudian to appear at a Winter Olympics, after luger Simon Payne and Patrick Singleton, who competed in the luge and skeleton.

Saving the best for last: Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, competing for France, perform in the pairs free skate figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics yesterday. James, a former Mount St Agnes pupil, and her partner produced their best performance of the event (Photograph by Bernat Armangue)

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Published February 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm (Updated February 15, 2018 at 9:46 pm)

James finishes with a flourish

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