SAINT JOHN, N.B. – The 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are in first place after the short dance with a score of 73.15 at the Skate Canada International Grand Prix. Their lead is just 2.80 points ahead of compatriots Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who expressed pleasant surprise at their personal best marks: 70.35, and this happening early in the season.
Virtue and Moir skated a strong, performance, with level fours on their rotational lift and step sequence, but bobbled on the twizzle section of their sparkling short dance.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States, fourth at Skate America last week were thrilled to be third and able to attend their first Grand Prix press conference with 60.92 points in the bag, more than 10 points behind Weaver and Poje.
Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, so deft with their pink quickstep fluff at Obertsdorf that they won the short dance there, before getting the bronze overall, finishing seventh of eight teams, even though they drew a standing ovation at the Harbour Station Arena.
“Obviously we have a few technical things to work on,” Paul said. “But the actual performance of the program felt amazing and the crowd really got into it. “
They received only a level one on the second Finnstep sequence, but level fours on twizzles, and a rotational lift. “It’s not the most consistence dance for everybody, just looking at levels from past competitions,” Paul said.
Virtue and Moir navigated that trap well, but admitted their trip into twizzle territory was “adventurous.”
Moir acknowledged he and Virtue had “a bit of a moment” before they skated. “You never know where your career is going to go and if we’re going to skate next year, those questions that we don’t want to answer yet.”
Moir found himself very emotional while in the start position, thinking this might be his last Skate Canada.
“We had a great feeling the first minute and a half,” he said. “They’re telling in the scores, so we’ve got to clean that up. At this time of year that is really important.”
Virtue said they’ve trained the twizzles really well at home, but at both of their previous competitions, they’d had a stumble or two on twizzles. Now they have to get down to business, maybe change the placement of them. “It’s not something we want to risk going forward,” she said.
Weaver and Poje were visibly surprised while watching replays of Virtue and Moir’s errors. “Tessa and Scott are Olympic champions,” Weaver said. “They are everything we strive to be. And while their errors are quite uncharacteristic, to me they are the quintessential ice dancing team of our time.”
Poje said they challenged themselves to get every level and every key point they can and it’s not easy: there are such minute differences between levels, but they can add up. “We were pleased to see that we achieved a lot of the key points that we wanted so early” he said.
Weaver and Poje earned level fours on all of their elements, even both of the Finnsteps, except for the midline step sequence, where they earned a level three. Their tap interpretation of 42nd Street worked for them.