Eric Radford says the answer will come to him in the restful days after season's end.

Piper Gilles says "The Long and Winding Road" wasn't necessarily meant as a final chapter.

The World Figure Skating Championships this week in Montpellier, France could see the curtain come down on several Canadian careers. Gilles and ice dance partner Paul Poirier, the reigning world bronze medallists, are undecided on their future.

Radford and partner Vanessa James came out of retirement to team up only a year ago. Leaving now after finding their groove might be bittersweet.

Gilles and Poirier had been aiming for the Olympic podium in Beijing, but in their free dance to The Beatles' anthem, a song they said reflected their own rocky journey, a botched lift left Gilles a puddle of tears. They finished seventh.

"'The Long and Winding Road,' that program was just leading us to the Olympic Games. We never really meant for it to be like the final thing, but we wanted it to be like the best performance of our life at the Olympic Games," Gilles said. "Paul and I have always said that we love to skate, and if we feel that there's more that we can create or contribute, or we feel more inspired, maybe we'll continue.

"But Paul and I just really need a break to decompress from a stressful, stressful year, and then see what motivates us. We'll see."

Radford won a pair of world titles with former partner Meagan Duhamel, then came out of retirement last spring to compete with the Toronto-born James, who had previously competed for France. They were 12th in Beijing.

"It would just be so exciting to explore what we're capable of … to be able to just work and really explore new programs and maybe some different styles and then start from where we are now, it would be so exciting and it would be really fulfilling. But as you can imagine, I'm 37, you have to feel very, very motivated," said Radford, who was the oldest skater in Beijing.

"The first thing we're going to need is a little bit of a vacation. And I think that once we have some time to just let the dust settle and take some distance from skating, it'll become apparent on its own," He added. "We'll miss it. And we'll be like, ''Yeah, you know what? Let's do another year,' or we're going to feel like, 'OK, we've had our fill. It was an incredible year, and we'll take it for what it is and what it was.' But I don't think that we're going to know until we have some time to really just feel it out."

The world championship field after an Olympics is usually thinner as some skaters prefer to shut it down after the Games.

This year's event, which begins Wednesday with short programs for women and pairs, is wide open with the Russian team banned because of the invasion of Ukraine and the absence of the Chinese team.

It's particularly glaring in women's singles since Russians Anna Shcherbakova, Anna Trusova and 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, who fell apart in the free program in Beijing amid a doping scandal, swept the medal podium.

The three medallists in pairs — China's champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, and Russia's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (silver) and Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov (bronze) — will be missing.

"We're definitely aware of that, and we definitely considered it and we know that it's an opportunity to get on the podium if we skate the way that we know we can," Radford said. "That's very exciting for us.

"(But) I think we want to add a little bit more fight (than in Beijing). As all athletes say, we want to go out and be the best we can be … if we went out and had a great skate and a really great moment, and capped off the season with a medal, that would just be a fantastic end to the season."

The ice dance field will be missing two top Russian teams including reigning champs Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katasalapov.

"It will be a strange world championships without some countries participating," Poirier said. "Personally, there's been a lot of visibility on the war in Ukraine and the ensuing refugee crisis. And I'm hoping that more light will be shined on other refugee crises around the world that don't necessarily get as much attention.

"But in terms of the skating itself, it really hasn't changed our perspective going into these championships. I think we just really want to have too strong skates and redeem ourselves after the Olympic Games, which were a little bit disappointing for us."

The men's field will without Beijing gold medallist Nathan Chen and two-time Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu.

Canada's Keegan Messing was 11th in Beijing, landing a day before his short program after testing positive for COVID-19 in Vancouver.

The 30-year-old, who plans to compete at least one more season, hopes to debut a quadruple lutz in France. That had been his original plan in Beijing before his Games were derailed. He's hoping

"I’d be lying if I said putting the quad lutz in was just for myself. I really, I really wanted to hit 280 points combined score this year," said Messing, who scored 265.61 in Beijing — his best is 270.26 from his sixth-place finish at last year's worlds.

"I'm really hoping that I can skate a program with this quad lutz . . and honestly, I'd love to challenge the podium. I know it's a bit of a far shot for myself. But maybe just maybe if I can dig a little deeper, maybe the extra jump might push something out."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022.