Published Feb 15, 2018 at 8:00 am
(Updated Feb 15, 2018 at 9:49 am)
Vanessa James and pair skating partner Morgan Cipres will lay it all on the line in search of Winter Olympics glory in Pyeongchang, South Korea, today.
James, a former Mount St Agnes pupil, and Cipres remain in medal contention after qualifying for the free skating event at the Gangneung Ice Arena, which will determine the podium places.
The 2017 European Championships bronze medal-winners, who compete for France, advanced to the medal round after finishing sixth in the short programme discipline with a score of 75.34 yesterday. The top 16 pairs advanced.
James and Cipres will have to be on top of their game if they are to secure a medal and will have little or no margin for error as they attempt to make up ground on those above them heading into the second and final phase of the pairs competition.
The pair, who finished sixth in the team event pairs short programme last week, have proven to be popular among fans with their sleek, sexy performances to music from Fifty Shades of Grey and a growling cover of the Sound of Silence having gone viral.
Chinas Wenjing Sui and Cong Han top the leaderboard after posting the best score of 82.39 in the short programme.
Russian athletes Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, are second with a score of 81.68 and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, of Canada, third with a score 76.82. Tarasova and Morozov, the two-times and reigning European champions, won the team pair skating event and are among the favourites for gold in Pyeonchang.
The pair are among the 169 Russians invited by the International Olympic Committee after meeting the anti-doping criteria to compete as independent athletes and are to be referred to 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 countrys sportspeople benefited from state-sponsored doping.
James, 30, made history on her Olympic debut at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, where she and former partner Yannick Bonheur became the first all-black pair to compete at that level. She is making her third appearance at the Games in Pyeonchang, having also competed at the 2014 Games in Sochi, where she and Cipres placed tenth.
James and Cipres have competed together since 2010, during which time they have also racked up five French national titles and won medals in the Grand Prix and Challenger Series events. They became the first French pair to win a medal at the European Championships in 14 years after claiming bronze in the Czech Republic last year.
James, whose father Kevin is Bermudian, was born in Ontario, Canada, but lived in Bermuda until aged ten when she moved to the United States. Before becoming a French citizen, she made history in 2006 as the first black skater to win the British National Championships in singles and won silver at the same event the following year.
Jamess twin sister, Melyssa, is also a figure skater.
Also representing Bermuda in Pyeongchang is Tucker Murphy, who is competing in tomorrows cross-country skiing event.
Murphy is also making 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. He 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.