James and Cipres in sixth after opener

  • Ice maiden: Vanessa James performs with Morgan Cipres in the pairs skating short programme event on the opening day of the Winter Olympics (Photograph by Bernat Armangue/AP)
  • Waiting game: Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres sit in anticipation of their scores (Photograph by Bernat Armangue/AP)

Vanessa James and her partner, Morgan Cipres, made their first appearance on the ice at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea yesterday.

The duo, who compete for France, finished sixth in the team event pairs skating short programme at the Gangneung Ice Arena with a score of 68.49.

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, the European champions, topped the leaderboard with a score of 80.92. Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished second with a score of 76.57 and Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot third after posting a score of 75.36.

Bermudian James and her partner, who are competing together at their second straight Winter Olympics, earned five points and trail early pacesetters Tarasova and Morozov by as many points.

James is making her third appearance at the Games, having competed in Vancouver in 2010, when she finished fourteenth with Yannick Bonheur, and at the 2014 Games in Sochi, where she and Cipres placed tenth.

Leaders Tarasova and Morozov 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 country’s sportspeople benefited from state-sponsored doping.

Tarasova and Morozov defended their title at the European Figure Skating Championships last month in Moscow, where James and Cipres finished fourth, narrowly missing out on the podium by one hundredth of a point.

James and Cipres have competed together since 2010, during which time they have also racked up five French 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 at last year’s event in the Czech Republic.