SALT LAKE CITY – Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., were narrowly edged for gold on Saturday in ice dancing at the 2014 U.S. International Skating Classic figure skating competition. The event is the first on the ISU’s new Challenger Series.

Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the U.S. hung on for top spot with 141.70 points. Orford and Williams, the defending bronze medallists, closed the gap even closer from the short program with 141.02.

‘’We made a mistake near the end of the program and that probably cost us the gold,’’ said Williams. ‘’Still it was a pretty good start to the season for us. This new program is a big departure for us from what we did last year and we are really excited about it.’’

Orford admitted it’s never fun to be so close to victory.

‘’It’s disappointing to know how close we were,’’ she said. ‘’We had two good skates and we improved on our performance and connection. The knock on us last year was that we were too rushed and this year we are trying to take our time and show the moments.’’

There was also a heated battle for bronze with Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus of the U.S. overtaking Quebec champions Marieve Cyr of Ile-Bizard, Que., and Benjamin Brisebois-Gaudreau of Montreal for third spot. The American scored 126.44 and the Canadians, making their international debut, 121.58 for fourth.

‘’We had a tough free dance,’’ said Cyr. ‘’There were some technical errors but we have two new programs which are a step up in difficulty from last season.

In women’s competition, Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., took fourth spot with 161.65 points a mere 0.04 points from third place finisher Riona Kato of Japan who totalled 161.69. Polina Edmunds of the U.S., won gold at 176.35 and her compatriot Courtney Hickey earned the silver at 174.14.

‘’To be so close to the podium is a little disappointing,’’ said Chartrand, 18, fifth at the world juniors last season. ‘’Missing that last combination jump really hurt me in the end. I came into the final after a very satisfying short program so for me that was a step in the right direction.’’

Canada will also host an event on the ISU’s Challenger Series, the inaugural 2014 Skate Canada Autumn Classic International in Barrie, Ontario, from October 14-17, 2014 at the Allandale Recreation Centre.

Full results: http://www.usfigureskating.org/leaderboard/results/2014/2014_us_intl_classic/results.html