Veteran Canadian pairs duo on Olympic team after withdrawal

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Veteran pairs duo Vanessa James and Eric Radford were picked for Canada’s Olympic figure skating team on Sunday despite withdrawing from the national championships a day earlier.

James and Radford, who teamed up last spring, contracted COVID-19 just before Christmas. They pulled out of the Canadian competition Friday after their fourth-place finish in the short program.

Their selection for the Beijing Games won’t be well-received by some in the sport after Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud won silver with an excellent skate.

The Canadian championships, however, are just one of the criteria for qualifying. Team selection also takes recent international results into account.

James and Radford, who is a two-time world champion with former partner Meagan Duhamel, had the best Grand Prix results this season of any of Canada’s pairs teams.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, gold medalists on Saturday, earned the other pairs spot.

Keegan Messing and Roman Sadovsky are Canada’s men’s singles entries and Madeline Schizas earned the one berth in women’s singles.

“Going to the Olympic Winter Games is just such a dream,” Schizas said in a release. “I watched the 2010 Games in Vancouver. I watched Joannie Rochette there and since then it’s just been such a dream of mine and I’m so happy that I was able to accomplish being named to the team.”

World bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were a lock for an ice dance berth, while Saturday’s silver medalists Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen, and bronze medalists Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha filled out the three spots.

“For us, this is really a moment of honor,” Poirier said. “We had the pleasure of representing Canada at the 2018 Olympics so to qualify for another Games is really something special.

“We’re vying for the podium, so we’re excited to bring our best skating to the Olympics.”

The number of berths allotted to each country in each of the four disciplines depends on placings at the world championships the previous year.

The Olympic figure skating competition begins Feb. 4 with the team event at the Capitol Indoor Stadium.

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