Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win gold in Ottawa, Ready to peak in Sochi

Yes, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won their sixth Canadian title in front of a house that gave them a standing ovation. Teddy bears rained on the ice. And so it should be for the Olympic champions that wove a spell with their floating quality on ice.

But the tears came for two teams who train together every day, and hope to be Olympic bound when the decision is made Sunday.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje missed the Olympic spot four years ago by .3 points and this time they snared it easily. And their training mates, budding young stars Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam took the bronze medal, a year after their own heartbreak when they suffered a fall in the free dance that cost them a spot at the world championships in London Ont.

Virtue and Moir won the free dance with 117.87 points, ahead of Weaver and Poje with 110.86, a mark that shocked and pleased them. Paul and Islam couldn’t believe their eyes, either. They finally broke 100 in the free, with a mark of 102.97 points.

Overall, Virtue and Moir set a Canadian record of 194.03 points. Weaver and Poje finished up with 183.54 and Paul and Islam earned 170.64.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Moir, who added that it was good practice for Sochi to have to skate after Weaver and Poje who got a standing ovation. “When they bring the house down like that, it adds to the pressure,” Moir said.  “It’s more real, more what we’ll find in Sochi.”

Virtue admitted to a slip in their final twizzle. “The point is to peak in Sochi,” she said. “It would be alarming if we skated perfectly (at this point).”

Weaver and Poje are just as intent on finishing on the podium in Sochi as Virtue and Moir to take back their Olympic gold.

“We want to be on the podium,” Weaver said. “We want to be standing next to Tessa and Scott. I think we have every right, every ability to be there. Let the chips fall where they may. Let the judges do what they want to do, but we are going to prove to the world that we deserve to be there.”

Paul and Islam could barely speak afterwards. “It’s just an amazing feeling,” Paul said. “I can’t even express it.”

“This whole year, we believed we could do it,” Islam said. “But at the same time, when it happens, it’s still unbelievable. We’re ecstatic. We’re speechless.”

They said they found the day very nerve-wracking but they went into “autopilot” and shed the fears and the stress. “We trusted our training,” Islam said.

Their world championship miss has transformed them into Olympic wannabees. “That motivated the hell out of us,” Islam said. “And it has all year. “

Beverley Smith

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