Venessa James and Eric Radford still eligible for Beijing despite withdrawal at nationals


Vanessa James and Eric Radford are still eligible to be compete for Canada at the Beijing Olympics despite withdrawing from the national championships on Saturday.


James and Radford contracted COVID-19 over the Christmas holidays and only returned to the ice to train earlier this week after spending 10 days in quarantine. They were fourth after the short program on Friday before announcing their withdrawal ahead of Saturday’s free program.


“We are feeling the repercussions, a little bit more fatigue than we would normally feel before a competition,” James said Friday.


Radford said trying to stay fit off the ice was challenging.


“My symptoms were like a bad cold,” he said. “It’s just being off the ice at a time where you would normally be in high training mode, getting those run-throughs in the week before competition. So physically, I think we feel good. I think it’s just a little bit of mentally … I’d use the words it’s a little unstable.”


Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., is a two-time world champion with former partner Meagan Duhamel. He came out of retirement at age 36 to compete with James, a Toronto native who’d previously skated for France.


The Canadian championships are just part of the criteria that determine the Beijing Olympic team. Other criteria include placement and scores from last year’s world championships, and best international scores this season. Canada will name its Olympic team Sunday.


Radford had compared the global pandemic to “an invisible minefield” for athletes during what’s already a stressful time.


He added that he and James were perhaps among the lucky ones, as they now don’t have the added worry of testing positive. A positive test from this point on could keep an athlete from travelling to Beijing.


Canadian men’s singles skater Stephen Gogolev withdrew from the competition on Friday.


Gogolev trains in the U.S. and was selected for a PCR test at the airport upon arrival in Ottawa, where he tested positive. He won silver at the national championships in 2019 when he was just 14.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2022.

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