Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford stormed back from a shaky short program to capture a silver medal in pairs at the Trophee Eric Bompard on Saturday.
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., scored 186.71 points, falling just short of catching Russian gold medallists Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia who finished with 187.99.
“It’s a bittersweet result for us,” said Duhamel. “When you come so close to winning it’s a real heartbreaker. When you look at the points and you see how close it was you start thinking ‘If only my Lutz was like that (Friday).“’
Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy were third at 169.49.
In singles, Ashley Wagner of the United States and Takahito Mura of Japan had strong free programs to win gold.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France took ice dancing gold, while Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished sixth.
After falling on a triple Lutz in Friday’s short program, Duhamel had promised that they would make amends in the long program and they did just that, posting the best score of 124.43 in the free skate.
Duhamel and Radford also won silver at last month’s Skate Canada International, and combined with Saturday’s result secured their spot in the Grand Prix Final next month in Sochi, Russia, the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
“We’re really excited that we will get to go to Sochi,” Duhamel said. “It will be the only time before the Olympics that we’ll go there, and we want to be on the podium. So we’re going to fix all the mistakes that happened here, fix everything that went wrong at Skate Canada and we’ll be ready to show great skating.”
Radford said a trip to Sochi was “extremely important” for their pre-Olympic preparation.
“Just to get a feeling for the venue and the city will potentially be very beneficial,” he said.
Toronto’s Gilles and Poirier scored 135.86 point in the ice dance.
“We are improving each competition,” said Gilles. “I think we are still working the kinks out and our objective is having our programs down pat for the nationals.”
Both Muray and Wagner rallied past the overnight leaders. Wagner nailed her jumps to overtake the 14-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia, while Mura beat American Jeremy Abbott.
Lipnitskaia finished third behind 15-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the Russian defending champion.
Wagner qualified for the season-ending Grand Prix finals next month in Sochi, Russia. She also battled a head cold.
“Today was a huge accomplishment for me,” Wagner said. “To be able to accomplish that program not at my best was great to mentally show myself that I don’t always have to be at the top of my game.”
Wagner feels confident she can do well in Sochi providing she gets her “spin levels up.”
Tuktamysheva, who drew a standing ovation from the crowd at the Bercy arena, was tearful at the end of her program and fell into the arms of her coach.
“I was really overwhelmed by my emotions,” she said. “I was in shock and I was just ecstatic.”
Mura, who finished eighth at Skate Canada last month, was second overnight and started his free skate confidently with clean landings on his quad toe loop and his triple Lutz-triple toe loop.
“A year ago I couldn’t even imagine I could win the competition here. I’m very surprised,” said Mura, whose parents were competitive figure skaters. “The challenge for me is to keep the consistency and keep at a certain level. Even if I fail on the quad, I have to nail the triple Axel for sure ... keep the quality high overall.”
Although Mura pulled out of a triple flip toward the end of his program he scored enough to beat Abbott, 230.68 points to 227.63. The American expressed reservations on Friday about how well his sore back would react to the longer free exercise. He appeared to be slightly restricted in his movement.
“I had a couple of mistakes and some issues with spin levels, and that cost me first place,” Abbott said. “But I love this program and I love skating in it. I’m happy that I’m done and I’m in one piece.”
A technically strong free skate by Frenchman Florent Amodio produced the best score of 154.12 in the free and moved him from seventh overnight to third place.
“My goal was to fight like I do every day in practice,” Amodio said. “It shows me that everything is possible and you should never give up, any time, anywhere. I’m proud of myself.”
Brian Joubert, third overnight, dropped to fifth.
Joubert fell backward on his first jump, a quad toe loop-double toe loop, and stumbled late in his program when he attempted a triple Axel. The former world champion skated without much punch to the low-key “Inception” by Hans Zimmer.