Miura/Kihara take Autumn Classic pairs title from debutants James/Radford

Japanese duo Miura Riku and Kihara Ryuichi beat home duo Vanessa James and Olympic gold medallist Eric Radford, as Marilena Kitromilis stunned You Young in the ladies' singles.

By Rory Jiwani
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Japan’s Miura Riku and Kihara Ryuichi completed victory in the Autumn Classic International at Sportplexe Pierrefonds in suburban Montreal on Friday (17 September).

In just their fourth competition after the global pandemic wrecked their first two seasons together, Miura and Kihara ran out comfortable winners thanks to a fine free skate featuring solid elements and a spectacular throw triple Lutz.

Despite Miura singling a Salchow jump late on - something they were able to laugh about at the end of the skate - they posted a career best free skate score of 131.74 for a winning total of 204.06, also a career best.

Their technical elements score of 66.06 was more than five points higher than any other pairing, and they look a team capable of challenging for podium finishes in bigger competitions throughout the season ahead of Beijing 2022.

Canada’s new star pairing of Vanessa James and Eric Radford took second place on their competitive debut in the ISU Challenger event.

Skating to 'Falling' by Harry Styles, James fell on their opening side-by-side jump and singled what should have been a double Salchow.

The middle of the routine passed without mishap before James fell on a late throw, but there was promise in their first international competition after Radford ended his three-year-long retirement.

Their score of 115.72 was good enough for second place on the day and an overall total of 184.01.

Radford won team gold and pairs bronze with Meagan Duhamel at PyeongChang 2018 while James, who previously represented France, is a former European champion and world bronze medallist

Duhamel, who was commentating on the competition for Skate Canada, now coaches Miura and Kihara.

Americans Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc took third overall despite finishing fifth in the free skate.

Cain-Gribble fell on two side-by-side jumps and looked to be struggling to breathe with LeDuc checking to see if she was okay at the end of the performance.

Their throws were below-par as well and they scored 111.06 for a total of 170.64.

Home duo Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps were third in the free skate with 112.08 but failed to move up from fourth after the free skate, and it was a similar story for USA's Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay who scored 112.01 for fourth in the free skate and fifth overall.

Marilena Kitromilis proved her short program win was no fluke as she took overall victory in the ladies' singles.

The 16-year-old from Cyprus scored 119.39, another huge personal best, to take second in the free skate. And her total of 180.72 saw her claim the biggest success of her career so far.

You Young took the free skate with 119.59, but her total of 180.25 meant she had to settle for second.

The Korean missed out on March's World Championships when she finished fourth in her unsuccessful bid for a fifth Korean national title.

You did land two triple Axels in her free skate - the second was underrotated - but her jumping generally lacked the fluency which saw her win Youth Olympic gold and take Four Continents silver in early 2020.

Her compatriot and training partner, Ji Seoyeon, was fourth in the free skate behind Karen Chen but took the last spot on the podium with 173.69 to the American's 173.00.

Earlier, reigning world bronze medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished atop the scoresheets in the ice dance rhythm dance.

The Canadian duo scored 83.35 to take a healthy lead into Saturday's free dance from Spain's Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz who posted a 75.20.

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the United States were third with 73.93.

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