Virtue and Moir take silver in close ice dance

FUKUOKA, Japan – Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., were edged out by Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White for top spot in record performances Saturday in  ice dancing at the ISU Grand Prix Final.

The exciting competition set the stage for what should be one of the great figure skating battles at the upcoming Olympic Games.

Davis and White, the current world champions, earned 191.35 points while Virtue and Moir, the Olympic champs,finished at 190.00.  They are the two highest scores ever in the event.  Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France were third at 169.11.

“We had a great skate,” said Moir.  “We’ve been training so well and working so hard all season.  We did our technical elements really well at this event.  We’ll need to come out with more speed and more emotion heading into the Games and hopefully that can put us on top.”

“We’re right on track,” agreed Virtue.  “Our approaches are bang on.  It’s a process, we still have two more months to train before the Games and we need to trust that process that it will get us where we need to go.”

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., dropped from fourth to fifth overall after the free dance.

“We know we can grow in both programs,” said Weaver. “We’re going to be fast at work at home and make sure everything is bigger and better and stronger for the Games.”

In pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the gold medal with Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia second and Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China in third.

Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., were fifth and Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto sixth.  Both Canadian pairs had trouble with their side-by-side jumps and spins.

“We needed to apply that same kind of feeling and attack we had in the short program yesterday (Friday),” said Radford, who set a personal score with Duhamel in Friday’s performance..  “It’s never easy to start off the program with a major mistake.”

“We’ll take our performances here and work on improving ourselves at home ,” said Moore-Towers.  “Despite the mistakes we kept fighting and didn’t let things go.”

On Friday, Patrick Chan of Toronto won the silver medal in men’s competition.

The final competitive event for the Canadian entries here before the Olympic Winter Games will be the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. That event takes place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, January 9-12, 2014.

Louis Daignault

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