HELSINKI - New pairs partners Lubov Ilyushechkina of Toronto and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., won the bronze medal in their competitive debut on Saturday at the Finlandia Open figure skating competition.

Roman Sadovsky of Vaughn, Ont. also placed third in the men's singles.

The competition is the sixth stop of the 2019 ISU Challenger Series, a tune-up for the Grand Prix season which starts next week in Las Vegas with Skate America.

It was a 1-2 Russian finish in pairs as Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov took the gold with 194.28 points. Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin were second at 194.28 and Ilyushechkina and Bilodeau followed at 193.58.

"For a first ever international competition together with only seven months training we couldn't have hoped for better," said Bilodeau, who was ninth at the 2018 Olympic Games with his former partner Julianne Seguin. "It really sets us up well to improve even more in training and do better at our next event."

"We were nervous but it was exciting," added Ilyushechkina, who earned two top-10 world championship performances with former partner Dylan Moscovitch. "It was very satisfying to put out two well skated programs."

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., moved from eighth to sixth with 151.72 out of 11 entries.

In men's competition, Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno of Japan won the gold with 255.23. His compatriot Sota Yamamoto was second at 223.24 just ahead of Sadovsky at 222.23.

"The short program was the best I've ever done but the long could have been better," said Sadovsky.

In ice dancing, world junior champions Marjorie Lajoie Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Saint-Hubert, Que., were in fourth place after the rhythm dance at 70.75. That is 0.61 points better than their score at the world juniors last winter.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. led at 78.80, Betina Popova and Sergey Mozgov of Russia were second at 72.11 and Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu of China third at 71.68.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., was 15th after the women's short program.

Competition ends Sunday with the free dance and women's free skate.

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published Oct. 12, 2019.

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