Bermudian James and partner lift European skating pairs crown

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres

MINSK, Belarus, CMC  — Bermudian Vanessa James and her partner Morgan Ciprès made skating history as they became France’s first European pairs skating champions in 87 years after a stunning display here.

James and Ciprès helped France to their first European gold since 1932.

“It is a dream come true. We’ve dreamt of that for ever. I am so happy and proud, I can’t even find words to express how much,” said 31-year-old James, whose father Kevin is Bermudian.

She was born in Ontario, Canada, but lived in Bermuda until the age of 10 when her family moved to Virginia. She became a French citizen 10 years ago.

“We were just waiting to see what the score was at the end because you just never know. They are all just such strong competitors and have such great elements in their routines,” said James. “We didn’t skate necessarily the cleanest program and there was a little mistake, but thankfully we did enough, and we are just so overwhelmed. We’re so pleased to have skated like this, I am so happy and proud,” added James.

The pair built on their overnight short-program lead of nearly three points to defeat two-time defending champions, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia.

James and 27-year-old Ciprès, who have been competing together since 2010, scored 149.11 with a near-flawless free skate for a total of 225.66 as they stayed unbeaten in a breakout season for the experienced pair, who also previously won both the Grand Prix Final and French Elite Skating Championships last month.

As the news came through that Tarasova and Morozov had not scored enough for gold, Ciprès collapsed on to the floor while James shook with emotion as the pair looked visibly overwhelmed.

Reflecting on their success, Ciprès added: “We sacrificed so much and did so many efforts. It was a dream when we were children to be here one day…..We finally made history and we’re so proud. We’ll keep going to hopefully win more titles.”

James and Ciprès will aim to build on their latest triumph at the World Figure Skating Championships which will be held in Saitama, Japan, from March 18.

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