Three Canadian teams finish inside top eight
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – For four minutes Monday night, back home in Canada, a nation was holding its breath.
And then, just like that, it was over. But not before Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir likely bid farewell to competitive skating in an emotional swan song that seemed to have its script ripped from the pages of a storybook.
Twenty-four hours after a stirring world record short dance – and just minutes after rivals and training partners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France broke their own free dance world record – Canada’s ice dance sweethearts laid down one of the defining performances of their illustrious career to claim gold in PyeongChang.
Heading into the free dance leading Papadakis and Cizeron by 1.74 points, Virtue and Moir performed a mesmerizing program, scoring 122.40 for a world record combined score of 206.07. Papadakis and Cizeron took silver with 205.28, while siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. earned bronze with 192.59.
All three Canadian teams finished in the top eight. Two-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were seventh, one spot in front of reigning Canadian silver medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.
The gold brings Virtue and Moir’s Olympic medal haul to five – three gold and two silver – making them the most decorated Olympic figure skaters ever.
“That was a fantastic performance, we gave it all we had out there,” said Moir. “We skated with our hearts. We knew we were happy with our performance. We didn’t know if we won, that’s for sure.”
Taking to the ice as the final competitors of the day, Virtue and Moir admitted they had no idea of the world record number the French team, skating two teams in front of them, had put up.
“It wouldn’t have mattered,” admitted Virtue. “We needed to have our moment with the program we love so much.”
Following Olympic gold in 2010 and silver four years later in Sochi, Virtue and Moir – who have skated together, at every level, for two decades – took two years off before deciding to make one more run at the Olympics. They returned in the fall of 2016, taking off on an undefeated season that ended with their third world title a year ago. The only event they did not win over the past two seasons was a second-place finish to Papadakis and Cizeron at the Grand Prix Final in December.
After helping Canada win gold in the team event a week ago, Virtue and Moir stepped on competitive ice for what was likely the final time.
“It was an overwhelming feeling,” admitted Virtue of the emotion of the moment. “That moment has replayed in my mind over and over again. You just never know what will go through your head. I couldn’t help but think about the 20 years we’ve spent working for this moment, and the incredible team of people behind us.”
The other Canadian teams were also pleased with their Olympic results.
“We created a moment for ourselves,” said Gilles. “I think both of us were really nervous going into the free knowing we did a really nice short dance yesterday. We took our time and embraced this Olympic energy, because it’s infectious.”
“Our goal was to bring our hearts and souls to this event, and we did that,” said Weaver. “We’re leaving here happy and look on to our next challenge.”
As their media scrum ended, Virtue and Moir were asked if they had any idea of the groundswell of support forming for them back home in Canada in recent days.
“In Ilderton, everybody knows my name, for sure,” laughed Moir.
“We really are in this insular little bubble, and it’s a very safe and protected place, so I’m not sure we have the scope of that,” added Virtue, referring to their surroundings at these Games.
“But at the same I really do feel that sense of support, and it lifted us here. Here I felt that unconditional love, and that helped us immensely. We do feel like this is for Canada, and we’re so excited to share this with everyone.”
The women’s event will wrap up figure skating competition in PyeongChang, with the short program slated to get underway Tuesday night at 8:00 pm ET. Gabrielle Daleman, Kaetlyn Osmond and Larkyn Austman will represent Canada in the event.
Photo Credit: David Jackson, COC