Tag Archive for: Tessa Virtue

Three-time Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Retire from Competitive Skating

OTTAWA, ON: The worlds most decorated figure skaters, Tessa Virtue, 30, London, Ont., and Scott Moir, 31, Ilderton, Ont., announced their retirement from competitive figure skating today. During their 22-year career they won five Olympic medals, three world championship titles and eight national titles.

Virtue and Moir have dominated the ice dance field during both their junior and senior careers. They are the first and only ice dance team to win every major junior and senior skating competition: junior world championships (2006), junior grand prix final (2006), four continents championships (2018, 2012, 2017), senior world championships (2010, 2012, 2017), senior grand prix final (2016) and Olympic Games (2010, 2018). They have won a total of 55 international medals during their 20-year partnership, with 33 of them being gold.

Tessa and Scott have had an extraordinary career as the most decorated figure skaters of all time. Skate Canada has been fortunate to be able to be part of their remarkable career. Their partnership has inspired fans around the world with their skating skills and their passionate performances.” said Debra Armstrong, CEO, Skate Canada. “Skate Canada thanks Tessa and Scott for their vast contribution to skating and wish them the very best with their future plans.”

Over their career they competed at three consecutive Olympic Winter Games (2010, 2014, 2018), winning a total five medals. Virtue and Moir made their Olympic debut in 2010 at the Vancouver Games, they won gold in ice dance, making history as the first North American team to win the title and the youngest ice dance team to ever win gold at the Olympic Games. At their second Olympic Games in 2014 in Sochi, they picked up two silver medals in the ice dance discipline and in the team event. In 2018 they topped off their career at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang winning gold in ice dance and in the team event. They were also the Canadian flag bearers for the 2018 Winter Olympics, becoming the first team to carry the Canadian flag at an Olympic opening ceremony.

“Tessa and Scott are the most innovative ice dance team of all time. Throughout their career they have always pushed the ice dance envelope by bringing different genres to life with technical precision and performance perfection,” said Mike Slipchuk, Director High Performance, Skate Canada. “What makes them so special is they are champions on and off the ice. They are great athletes but also great leaders and people. We thank them for bringing us along on their incredible journey.”

Off the ice, Virtue and Moir have also picked up several honours. After the 2018 Olympic Games, they were awarded the Canadian Press Team of the Year, Postmedia Team of the Year and CBC Sports Canadian Athletes of the Year. Also, in 2018 they were inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in the sports and athletics category.

Virtue and Moir are currently producing their own skating show, Rock the Rink. This fall the skating tour will visit 30 cities across Canada and the U.S.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir returning to competition for 2016-2017 season

OTTAWA, ON: Tessa Virtue, 26, London, Ont., and Scott Moir, 28, Ilderton, Ont., announced today that they will return to competition for the 2016-2017 season. Virtue and Moir have taken two seasons off following the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, at which they won silver medals in the ice dance event and the team event.

“In returning to competition, our motivation stems solely from our love for the sport and our desire to create art. We are ready for the challenge, and ready to embrace life as athletes again!” said Virtue and Moir. “With Marie-France and Patrice, we have found a renewed passion for skating that feels both invigorating and inspiring. We have been working tirelessly on new techniques, and a different approach to ice dance – both mechanically and philosophically.”

“Canadian skating fans will undoubtedly be excited to welcome back Tessa and Scott,” said Dan Thompson, Skate Canada CEO. “The ice dance landscape in Canada is powerful and the return of six-time Canadian champions Tessa and Scott will further invigorate this discipline. We wish them the best of luck in their return.”

The 2010 Olympic champions and two-time world champions plan to move to Montreal, Que., to train with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon at CPA Gadbois.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir enjoy Skate Canada International in new roles

KELOWNA, B.C. – We have missed them, both.

We have wondered where they were, what they were doing, what they were going to do.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir don’t know yet.

They’ve been rumbling the halls of the Prospera Centre this week, working for TSN on broadcast bits, finding out what they don’t know about the other side of the boards, inspecting possible new career paths. It’s a buzz for them, these new duties. Word has it that they are naturals as broadcasters.

But they still don’t know where their path lies. And that is okay with them.

At about the same time, out came the press releases this fall about Patrick Chan and Virtue and Moir taking the year off to ponder their futures. But the response to the press releases has been different. Chan might very well come back. Virtue and Moir? Many seemed to think the gig was up.

“To be 100 per cent honest, I think after Sochi, we thought we were done for sure,” Moir said in Kelowna this week. “But we knew that was probably an emotional decision after training for 17 years straight. We needed to make sure that we took the proper time.”

Halfway through the summer Moir admitted that they had a “glimmer of hope” that they might like to come back. But they don’t know if the glimmer is strong enough and they don’t know what having that glimmer means to them. They do know one thing: they are taking time to think about that glimmer and other things.

“We don’t want to put that pressure on ourselves right now,” Virtue said. “We’ve been dealing with that kind of stress for 10-12 years now. It’s kind of nice just to take that off our plates for now.”

True, there are wistful moments, now that they are in the rink, and hear that opening music that stirs the heart. Virtue said in those moments, she can’t help but wonder what she and Moir would have done for programs, for choreography, what it would feel like one more time to face that cheering Canadian crowd that they love.

And then they remember what fun it is to go grocery shopping and run mundane errands during mid-week and visit their parents and siblings any time they’d like. During those moments, Moir feels the pull of ordinary life. Now that they’ve tasted that, how to give it up for singled-minded training?

Virtue says she is currently straddling two worlds. She is finishing her psychology degree at the University of Western Ontario in her hometown, London, Ont. Yet she and her partner are doing speaking engagements and appearances. They did a little skating tour in China. But basically, they have been off the ice altogether over the summer and into the fall, although Moir has been playing a little hockey.

If they returned, they know they would do things differently. They would train differently. With their history of injury, they would take a more intellectual, scientific-based approach to training. And they’d like to try out new choreographers. They are already cooking up plans to work with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon – who had been their idols and mentors as they grew up – and with the hugely talented Jeffrey Buttle, who they’ve already worked with on Stars on Ice.

Virtue and Moir are doing the Holiday Festival on ice gala in December. That means they are planning programs and also need to get back to training for that. They are looking forward to it.

At Skate Canada International, they were impressed with the routines of all three Canadian dance teams. In fact, Virtue was most impressed with the new faces of “Liz” Paradis and “Frankie” Ouellette, who finished seventh here, but who evoked an emotional rush with their “Un peu plus haut” free dance. Tears were shed.

Ice dance in Canada is in good hands right now, they see. “The other thing is, is there room for us to come back?” Moir says. “Geez.”

Virtue and Moir announce plans for 2014-2015 season

OTTAWA, ON: Canada’s most decorated ice dance team, Tessa Virtue, 25, London, Ont. and Scott Moir, 27, Ilderton, Ont. have decided not to compete during the upcoming skating season. The 2010 Olympic champions and double 2014 Olympic silver medalists are not ruling out future competitions, but plan to sit out this season.

They will still be seen on the ice, as they have plans to perform in several ice shows over the coming months. Tessa and Scott are looking forward to performing in Art On Ice in Switzerland this winter, as well as Stars on Ice this spring in Canada.

The two are anxious to work with different choreographers and create new show programs. “It will be really exciting to push ourselves in new directions, and have more creative freedom with these show programs,” said Moir. “We love competing, but the opportunity to work outside the confines of the competitive rules is really refreshing and should add a new dimension to our skating.”

They are still members of Skate Canada’s 2014-2015 National Team and enjoyed attending the recent High Performance Camp as spectators, watching their teammates run through their programs. “After watching free dances at the High Performance Camp, we feel confident that Canada is in a good place this season and can’t wait to watch our teammates flourish. We want to do everything we can to stay connected to the team and ensure our support and encouragement is felt,” said Virtue.

Although eligible, they have declined their funding available from Sport Canada and Own the Podium, thereby allowing several other athletes to benefit.

Virtue and Moir hosted their second annual charity golf tournament during the summer, and enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a number of other charity events and corporate activities. In addition to their skating commitments, they also have individual plans they hope to pursue in the months to come.

Chan, Virtue, Moir win Ontario Sports Awards

OTTAWA, ON: Last night in a ceremony in Toronto, Ont., Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were honoured by the Ontario Government for their success in sport.

Each year the province recognizes athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and sponsors for their outstanding performances in both national and international arenas.

Patrick Chan, 23, Toronto, Ont., won the Male Athlete of the Year Award. This award is presented annually by the Province of Ontario to Ontario’s premiere amateur male athlete who has achieved extraordinary success competing provincially, nationally or internationally, as part of a team or individually. In 2013 Patrick Chan, won his third world title and followed that win up with two silver medals at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Tessa Virtue, 24, London, Ont., and Scott Moir, 26, Ilderton, Ont., won the Team of the Year Award. This award is presented to an outstanding amateur sports team in which two or more people competed simultaneously as a single entity. Virtue and Moir won their sixth Canadian title and went on to capture two silver medals at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Gabrielle Daleman, 16, Newmarket, Ont., was also honoured at the gala. Daleman was a nominee in the Female Athlete of the Year Award. The award was won by judo athlete Jessica Klimkait.

Skate Canada volunteer William (Bill) Boland was presented with the Syl Apps Volunteer Achievement Award. This award recognizes volunteers, nominated by Provincial Sport Organizations who have made an outstanding contribution to the establishment and/or ongoing development of groups, clubs, facilities, projects and/or special programs in the Province of Ontario.

Skate Ontario sponsor JB Video Productions was presented with a Corporate Sport Citation. This award is presented to corporations that have been a leader in supporting sport through sustained corporate involvement over several years

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!


SOCHI, RUSSIA – Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir captured a silver medal in figure skating’s ice dance competition at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

“What a performance by a truly remarkable Canadian team. In winning a silver medal for their trophy cases, Tessa and Scott have once again shown Canada and the world they are one of the great ice dance teams in figure skating history, said Marcel Aubut, President, Canadian Olympic Committee. “Their 17 years together as ice dance partners have been filled with greatness – Olympic medals, Canadian championships and world championships and we loved every minute of it. Congratulations once again to Tessa and Scott for being such extraordinary ambassadors for the sport around the world.”

Canada’s two other ice dancing duos competed in the free skate event, with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finishing in 7th place, and Alexandra Paul and Islam Mitchell finishing 18th.

Canada now has 15 medals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games (4 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze).

From the Canadian Olympic Committee

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

Virtue & Moir leave the Iceberg Palace breathless with phenomenal short dance

Defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir delivered an Olympic moment in the Sochi short dance, channelling Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, mustering all the lush skills for which they’re known.

When they finished, Moir leaped up and down on the ice with utter joy. It was what they had been training for over the past four years and the moment they’ve been searching for all season.

“We certainly felt more like ourselves out there tonight,” Virtue explained. “We created the moment we wanted to create. I don’t think we could have done it much better than we did tonight.”

They are in second place with 76.33 points, 2.56 points behind their U.S. training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White, with 78.89, a world record score. “We were just in our zone,” White said. Virtue and Moir are still within striking distance of winning gold, so is the perfect skate all that matters?

“We sat in the kiss and cry and kind of looked at each other and said: ‘It does matter,’” Virtue said.

“We like our chances,” Moir said.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia out finished their more highly ranked teammates Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, to take third spot with 73.04 points.

At the moment the young Russians are winning a tightly fought battle for the bronze medal, taking a narrow lead over French veterans Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat with 72.78; Bobrova and Soloviev at 69.97, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy in sixth with 67.58 while Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje – who had the third highest score of the season – are in seventh place with 65.93 points.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam are in 18th place – making the cut for the long program ­-after Paul bobbled on her second of three twizzles. They finished with 55.91 points, about four points lower than their personal best. “We’re not disappointed with our score because we had a bit of a rough skate,” Islam said. “We put up a good fight and now we’ll put it behind us. We still have tomorrow.”

Before they stepped out on the ice, Virtue and Moir hugged each other for a long time. And just before the music started, he gave her a wink.

And this time, their twizzles were perfect, robust, quick, moving forward with grace, driven by confident edges. After they finished, legendary Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova stood in the stands and applauded with enthusiasm.

She wasn’t the only one. Both Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko, who had invented the Finnstep to which they had to skate, applauded them, too. “Thanks for a beautiful Finnstep,” Kokko said in a tweet.

Moir said that he and Virtue felt a little more pressure during the team short dance, but their ease and comfort returned for the performance on Sunday, even though the six days between events had Moir “twiddling” his thumbs. It was a challenge. But that all fell away when they skated into the bright lights. “I think you could tell by our reaction that we were really excited by that skate,” he said.

They did what they needed to do to win a second gold medal, Moir said. “When you have a career like ours, so much hard work goes into everything. We’ve worked so hard this season and every season to get us here. Now we just want to enjoy ourselves.”

Katsalapov wore a little grin before this Russian team began, and they delivered nice twizzles and excellent skating skills with ease. They had been part of the Russian team that won gold, and they gained confidence from competing in it. But Ilinykh said the team medal didn’t satisfy them that much and “we forgot about it quite quickly,” she said. “Still, it has helped us a lot mentally in the individual event.”

Katsalapov said he felt a 100 per cent connection to his partner, and so it looked perfect. For the free dance, he says they are not going to compete against anyone. “We’re just going to do our job cleverly as we did tonight,” he said.

Weaver and Poje lost marks in their twizzles, their first Finnstep pattern and a midline step sequence. “We’re thrilled with the way we performed tonight,” Weaver said. “It might have been our best short dance of the season.”

“Nothing can wipe the smiles from our faces,” she said. The atmosphere in the arena was “electrifying,” she said. “I was thinking to myself: ‘Thank goodness we’re doing a happy program,” because I couldn’t help but smile out there. I was also thinking: ‘Do everything right.’ Those are the memories we’re making here that I’ll never forget.”

Poje said they were disappointed with their marks but “we’re not here for the marks,” he said.

The French got their season’s best marks, but in fourth place, they promise to attack more for the free skate Monday. “We want to skate like crazy,” Pechalat said. “We want to bring emotion.” Everybody will.

Beverley Smith

Olympian Profile: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir

Paul MacIntosh tells people he’s just the lucky person who was standing by the boards when he saw Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir first skate together. “They could always move magically together,” he said, recalling the charismatic little twosome.

“From the beginning, it was small and it was tiny, and now, it’s big and huge,” he said. “They always were the best team in the world.”

He felt it all again when he went to the Canadian championships in Ottawa last month and watched them move. “It kind of starts from somewhere down in their ankles and knees and goes right through them,” he said. “It seems to have a reaction through the whole body, which interprets the music. They’ve done this since they were babies. They’ve always heard and interpreted music so well. I find every movement has a meaning.”

MacIntosh was watching Virtue and Moir, sitting with the father of Andrew Poje’s first partner, a New York City man, a skating dad who doesn’t know an inside edge from an outside one. When Virtue and Moir finished the first 45 seconds of their free skate – they hadn’t yet done a lift, a twizzle, a spin, nothing – the skating dad looked at MacIntosh and said simply: “Oh my god.”

MacIntosh said to the skating dad: “Look, they’ve just done more steps and more things in the first minute than the other teams will do in four. It’s just things they do, subtle little movements and turns and interactions with each other. They move like a unit.”

Sure, they were Olympic champions back in 2010, just barely turned 20 both of them, the youngest dancers to do so. There was a reason for that win. And now, with even more miles under their feet, more experiences, more experiments, more work, their timbre is even more finely tuned.

So what is it that they do so well that makes them the best ice dance team in the world, perhaps of all time (Robin Cousins once compared them to Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.)  Well, the way their bodies move, for one thing. They stretch their bodies. One canny expert explains that they straighten their knees and point their toes, they extend their necks upward, they open their chests, using their entire bodies to interpret music. Virtue in particular has a very mobile torso and they both arch their backs to create shapes, and they involve their hips and shoulders like no one else to produce movement that the style and rhythm of dance commands. Their movement is beautifully coordinated. They complete their movements, with extended legs and arms. The tension in their bodies’ changes as the music dictates. The tension is never static.

The foxtrot of the short dance this season calls for a sway – and they have a gorgeous sway – and the rise and fall of a soft knee. Says Ann Shaw, guru of international ice dance: “You’re supposed to have an elegant look, and use your knees in the foxtrot and have a syncopation of approach.  They have an elegant upright, light airy look, and they have the best interpretation of the rhythms required of anybody this year. They interpret the quickstep and foxtrot like nobody else does.”

Speed? It’s supposed to come from rhythmic knee action, since the rules specifically discourage excessive amounts of toe steps. This is no problem for Virtue and Moir, because, Shaw says, they are the most powerful skaters in the world. Speed is just the velocity across the ice, no matter how you get there. It is not the same as power. Some are fooled by speed, but how is it generated? Virtue and Moir have a hidden power, that comes from deep knee bends, and it allows them to float across the ice. Their stroking is so smooth and well-matched, that it appears effortless.

What’s more, Virtue and Moir can vary their speed and change direction seamlessly – important in the transitions category of the program component mark and also the choreography category to some extent. They can slow to a stop, and then regain top speed in three or four strokes. The variation of speed allows for the shades and light of interpretation. They change dance holds frequently, easily, eschewing the same-direction skating that is so much easier.  “Their movement from one hold to another is just like little rose petals unfolding,” Shaw said. “It’s superb. They skate in close relation all the time. But you are never aware that they are changing hold. They sort of fold into each other – and I think that is superior to anybody.”

Footwork? Virtue and Moir have challenging footwork with big curves.  The size of the curve that a skater’s edge creates is important, and never more so than in footwork sequences. Virtue and Moir trace huge arcs with their edges both into and out of their turns. They have dainty, precise feet.

Lifts? From a young age, when Virtue and Moir began to learn more difficult lifts, Virtue was taught to feel like she was doing the lift herself, rather than the male partner forcing the woman somewhere and the women reacts. “She moves herself from one position to another and she doesn’t wait for Scott to move her,” says Marijane Stong, known for her knowledge of dance, music, and costuming. “That was when she was quite young and she has maintained that. Ballet dancers don’t wait for the man to put them somewhere.”

In other words, Virtue has an ability to manage her own body in the lifts. Rather than Moir supporting Virtue, there are fewer points of contact between them during a lift, and Virtue extends her own free leg, without help from the partner. The positions in their lifts require a lot of strength in Virtue’s core and hips and back. Their style of stroking also is taxing on the legs, knees and thighs. This team is physically strong.

On the sidelines, MacIntosh is still watching. He’s seen Virtue and Moir’s peaceful, romantic skate to Mahler from the 2010 Olympics. Their free dance to “Seasons” by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov is also lyrical, pretty, but so different. He wasn’t sure when he first watched it, that it would do the trick. But by Paris, it had developed, as Virtue and Moir’s programs do. “I thought, oh my god, this is everything you said it would be,” MacIntosh said. “It’s magic. It’s totally different from Mahler. There is a totally different emotion at the end of it. Mahler is very peaceful. I find this very dynamic. It takes me on a journey. I love the music at the end.” (Choreographer Marina Zoueva used a proud piano concerto by Alexander Scriabin to finish on a strong note).

Their opening lift, says MacIntosh, sends shivers down his spine. “They strike a line that you know nobody else in the world can do,” he said. “Somebody might be able to do Tessa’s part. Somebody might be able to do Scott’s part. But not together. It’s just magic, and phrased beautifully with the music.”

And just to make things interesting, Virtue and Moir do a footwork sequence at the 3:30 minute mark of their free dance routine, a taxing idea. At Skate Canada, they got a level 2 for it. At Grand Prix Final, it earned a level 3. By the Canadian championships, they had nailed it: level 4. “It went whoosh,” MacIntosh said.

It’s a challenge they take. Indeed, they make everything challenging for themselves, creating new lifts every year, new twizzles, new rhythms, new styles. It’s just who they are, pushing their own boundaries, never content with the status quo.

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Beverley Smith

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

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform to perfect 10’s

A wash of perfect marks of 10 filled the scorecard of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir when they won the short dance at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships on Friday night.

Count ‘em up. There were 22 of them handed out by judges for the performance marks. Mind you, some of the higher and the lower would be dropped, but still, these measures of outstanding deliverance don’t happen all that often.

There were plenty of positives to take from their routine to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Virtue and Moir didn’t get a grade of execution lower than two (when the utmost is three, and the lowermost is minus three.) They received a perfect string of perfect 10s from each judge for choreography and composition, almost as many for interpretation.

Still, Virtue and Moir, ever the perfectionists, weren’t completely satisfied with their performance, for which they earned 76.16, a heavenly send-off for the 2010 Olympic champions. Their faces didn’t look as if they’d just garnered a bouquet of 10s.

“We felt like we had a couple of moments today that weren’t quite the way we have been training,” Moir said. “…It’s one we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked to. “

True enough, Virtue and Moir lost a point for a lift that went too long, but for Moir it was more. “It felt like I was battling a little bit with my knees and I wasn’t quite into the ice.”

“Maybe I was watching junior world highlights,” he said, referring to the Canadian junior hockey team that failed to win a medal at the recent world championships.

Virtue and Moir’s technical mark of 37.66 was only marginally behind that of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who are in second place with 72.68 points. Their technical mark stood at 36.09.

This Canadian championship means far more to Weaver and Poje than mere point-gathering. Four years ago, they lost the chance to compete at the Vancouver Olympics by only .30 points and it crushed them. “It’s still a sore spot with me,” Weaver said. “I can tell you standing here right now, it makes me emotional about how we felt at this event four years ago.”

There is little danger they’ll miss the trip this year, but Weaver is very well aware, from all the incidents that have befallen them, that “You never know when something can be taken away from you.”

The desire to never let an Olympics be taken from them again lies beneath each hard training day. “It was a turning point for us,” Poje said.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, who delighted Canadian crowds so when they first emerged as gems at a Skate Canada International several years ago, have struggled with injuries and bad luck sometimes since, and they don’t want to remember last year’s Canadian championships any more than do Weaver and Poje, who had to sit it out with an injury. Last year Paul and Islam were in third place after the short dance and in line for a trip to the world championships in London, Ont., when a slip plunged them to fourth. However, in the short dance on Friday, they flew around the rink, with big, deft beautiful movement, skating to “Crazy for You.” And took third place with 67.67 points.

Canada has three Olympic dance spots and one of the biggest battles of this event is for the third spot. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, overcoming injury this year, are in fourth place with 65.11 points, while last year’s bronze medalists Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams are fifth. Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill are sixth.

Beverley Smith

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