2022 World bronze medalists, Vanessa James and Eric Radford have retired from competitive skating and joined the Holiday on Ice tour, after a great career together as well as with their previous partners (Morgan Ciprès for Vanessa; Meagan Duhamel for Eric). We were pleased to talk to them before the show in Lille.
Solène: You stopped competing a year ago now. How is it going?
Vanessa: It is going very well. We had a bit of nostalgia when watching the World Championships this year, but we have a lot of fun with Holiday on Ice. It’s exciting! We are learning lots of new things.
Solène: Do you miss competitive skating?
Eric: Like Vanessa, I experienced some nostalgia about the energy of the competition and seeing our friends from all around the world. I miss that aspect. But I don’t miss having to do a long program.
Solène: Can you tell me more about the Holiday on Ice tour?
Eric: Holiday on Ice is an amazing show. It uses many different tools and technics, such as pyrotechnics, flying, synchro skating, pair skating, and single skating. The choice of music is nice with a beautiful love story behind it. When it all comes together, everybody enjoys it. Our friends and family who came to see the show told us they were impressed.
Solène: You are also part of group acts. How is that?
Vanessa: That is something new for both of us, especially being part of a story instead of coming with our own story and program. We are learning choreography and steps with other skaters. We had a lot to learn, especially the flying part. It has been a great experience and a lot of fun.
Solène: What is your favorite part of the show?
Vanessa: Flying! I love it. It was scary in the beginning, but with time and practice, as well as the confidence that I have in my partner and the technicians, it’s become my favorite act.
Eric: It’s the same for me. I would have never got to experience this without Holiday on Ice. It is unique, different, and a lot of fun. My partner is half my size and weight and she manages to lift me up into the air. It’s pretty impressive.
Solène: Eric, I guess you had never spent so much time in France before. How do you like it?
Eric: My French is improving! Seeing so many different cities might be my favorite aspect of doing such a tour in France. I probably would have never visited them if it was not for Holiday on Ice. It was my first time in Lyon. It was very nice, with beautiful architecture and nice energy in the city. I loved Mont Saint-Michel too, it was very beautiful and unique. I also really enjoyed my time in the Netherlands (NB: for the Holiday on Ice Netherlands tour, before the French tour). I never got to visit this country before.
Vanessa: And you liked the wine in Bordeaux too!
Solène: Let’s talk about the World Championships. Haein Lee from Korea won the silver medal with her short program to “Storm”, which you composed on the piano, Eric. Did you see her program?
Eric: I did, and I’m so happy that she had such a great skate and ended up with a medal. I was cheering for her, and I’m very honored that she was skating to “Storm”. She expressed it beautifully. I was proud of her and her performance.
Solène: I guess you don’t have much time to play the piano at the moment. Do you have any projects for the future?
Eric: I just finished recording the last song of my album. I hope to release it at the beginning of the summer. I miss my piano a lot! I think it is the longest I have ever gone without playing the piano, and that will be one aspect of getting home that I look forward to.
Solène: Vanessa, one of your goals is to help the next generation of skaters. I had an interview with Océane Piegad and Denys Strekalin. Can you tell me about your work with them?
Vanessa: I spent a month with them last summer, training daily to prepare them for the season. We came up with entries and exits out of their spins and death spirals. We worked on the triple flip throw and tried to perfect a few other technical elements. It is very important for me to help the new generation. They are very talented. There is a lot of work to be done, but they can be very good. Fingers crossed!
Solène: Vanessa, you are an Ambassador of the Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance. Can you tell me about the work you’re doing with them?
Vanessa: Our goal is to make figure skating as diverse as possible and to find access and resources for those who don’t have the chance to have them, or those who don’t see people like themselves represented in our sport. It was an honor for me to compete at the Olympics as the only black figure skater. Children watching can see that! They can see that they are not the only ones and that anything they dream of, they can accomplish. It was a big opportunity to provide that for children watching all over the world. We are fundraising and showcasing young talents, supporting them in any way we can. I’m now co-president with Maé-Bérénice Méité, and we have projects and goals for the next year.
Solène MATHIEU - Skate Info Glace