Japan's Miura/Kihara skate to lead at Autumn Classic pairs event; James/Radford sit second in debut

The 2020 Japanese national champions had a statement short program in Montreal. Americans Cain-Gribble/LeDuc are third at the ISU Challenger.

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

In just their fourth international event together, Japan’s Miura Riku and Kihara Ryuichi skated into first place on Thursday (16 Sept.) at the Autumn Classic International in suburban Montreal.

The Japanese duo leads the pairs event in Pierrefonds, Quebec, scoring a 72.32 at the ISU Challenger stop.

Miura/Kihara are in their third season together and are looking for their Olympic debut as a team at Beijing 2022 in February.

Their triple twist, side-by-side triple toe-loop jumps and throw triple Lutz earned them a 41.12 technical score - five points north of any other team.

An even newer team, Canada’s Vanessa James and Eric Radford, are in safely in second place after the short, a fall by James on their side-by-side triple Salchows (lowered to a double by James) proving costly. They scored a 68.29.

The team paired up in early 2021, Radford a world champion and Olympic medallist while James is a 2018 world bronze medallist for France.

Americans Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc are third with a 59.58. Cain-Gribble fell on their side-by-side triple Salchows.

The top five was rounded out by Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deachamps of Canada (57.83) and Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay (56.60) of the U.S.

Said James and her and Radford's short program - partly choreographed by world champion ice dancer Guillaume Cizeron: "It feels enjoyable to skate to this program... it gives us peace. This is our first real competition together; we're still in a learning phase. Today, we had a great time - we'll see how tomorrow goes."

The women’s short program was also held on Thursday, with Marilena Kitromilis of Cyprus leading with a 61.33, followed by Ji Seoyeon (60.67) and You Young (60.66), both of South Korea.

The U.S. International Figure Skating Classic gets underway on Friday in Boston, headlined by world medallists Alexandra Trusova in women’s singles and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue in ice dance. The event is not an ISU Challenger.