Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win silver medal in captivating performance

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finished their second Olympics the way that means the most: two spellbinding programs, done flawlessly, done so that pins drop, done so that the tears come.

They won a silver medal while setting a world record of 114.66 points for their free skate, at least for a short time. The score was second to Meryl Davis and White’s new record of 116.63.

In all, Davis and White gave the United States its first Olympic gold medal ice dancing with a total of 195.52 points, also a world record, beating the mark they set at the Grand Prix Final of 191.35. Virtue and Moir walk away with 190.99 points.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia took the bronze medal, well back with a total of 183.48 points after finishing third in both programs.

Canadian silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished seventh overall, unable to overcome low marks in the short program. But they finished fifth in the free dance with a season’s best score of 103.18, for a final score of 169.50.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam had to overcome a twizzle mistake in the short dance which landed them in 18th place. But they got to skate their free dance and show the hospitable Russian crowd their wares: a lovely set of twizzles, cleanly done, soft and seamless lifts, difficult entries into lifts, and a beautiful flow over the ice. They finished 16th in the free dance, but ended up 18th overall with 138.70 in their first major international competition. They had never competed at a world championship before.

Virtue emerged on ice in pale pink, took Moir’s hand and dazzled, telling the story of their lives together, all 17 years of it, the highs and lows, and finally, finishing with their hands on their hearts. “I think I’m ready for another four years,” Moir said in the kiss and cry. Nobody believed him.

“Wow, Tessa and Scott, goosebumps,” tweeted Joannie Rochette.

“THAT was the best skating I have ever seen. I never felt so involved in a performance before,” tweeted Eric Radford.

Virtue admitted that it was stressful skating on the biggest stage in the world, but they handled it. “It’s a pretty ambitious program and it’s a loaded program and I think we did it pretty well.

“We felt intense pressure. We trained 17 years for this moment.”

Their free dance bettered their previous season’s best by more than two points. “It was what we wanted to do today,” Moir said. “That program was our baby – and it’s special for us to perform it for the last time. We handled ourselves in the best way possible.”

Was winning silver a disappointment? “We would have liked to bring home a gold for Canada but no one close to us will love us any less because we’re bringing home silver,” Virtue said.

Moir said he did not know what their plans were for the future – although it sounds as if they are not continuing on to the world championships in Tokyo. They will do Stars on Ice during the spring. There, they will meet up with Jeff Buttle, who tweeted: “Love those two.”

As for Weaver and Poje – the next wave of talented skaters that will represent Canada, they went out with the idea in mind that they had nothing to lose after a disappointing score in the short program. “It was liberating,” Weaver said. “Everything from the day before disappeared when we started tonight.”

Beating 100 points is good for them, Weaver said. “It’s the best score we’ve gotten on this program since it debuted. We’re just happy that our performance matches our score.”

Poje admitted that it was “deflating” to see the scores for the short program, and it was “hard to sit back and take” it.

“But it made us want to come out and do a good performance even more so today,” he said. And they did.

Russians Ilinkyh and Katsalapov almost didn’t fully realize it was over when they took their final pose in the free dance. “There was a pause and only then did I realize that we did it. We skated our Olympic Games and now we have our bronze.”

Finishing in the hardest spot of all was the French team Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, whose routine to “the Little Prince” was a treat. They were more than six points behind the Russians.

Finally, Davis said that training alongside Virtue and Moir had been an honour. “We’ve been pushing each other and pushing our sport, not just here, but for the last four years,” Davis said.

Beverley Smith

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