Canadian Ice Dance Champs Hope Third Time’s a Charm in Rivalry with U.S. Duo

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LONDON, ONT.–This is it, the third and final time this season that Canadian Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will skate against their American rivals.

They are keen to deliver a far different result at the world figure skating championships than they did their previous two times out.

The Canadians were runners-up to Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. at the Grand Prix final in at the Grand Prix final in December and again at Four Continents in Japan last month.

Their second place in Japan was particularly disappointing as they were having the strongest skate of the season with their sultry and challenging Carmen program when Virtue’s leg cramped up. They stopped for three minutes, as the rules allow, and then finished their free program but were left to wonder what might have been.

“We’ve had a strong three weeks since Four Continents,” Moir said. “We’re building and peaking at the exact time we want to be so it’s very exciting.”

Fans on hand to cheer for the hometown favourites – Virtue is from London and Moir from nearby Ilderton – were treated to run-throughs of their short program and free skate during Tuesday’s two practice sessions.

“We just wanted everyone to know we’re here and we’re going to be contending for the top spot on the podium,” Moir said.

To win, though, they’ll have to get by Davis and White, who aren’t just rivals but training partners and friends, of a sort.

Both teams train with coach-choreographer Marina Zueva out of the Arctic Figure Skating Club in Canton, Mich.

“Some days we’re on the ice together, some days we’re not,” Moir said. “We like to be on the ice with them, actually, and I think they feel the same way. It’s a good energy.

“At this time of year there are only so many people that are still training so to have them and the Shibutanis (U.S. brother-and-sister duo Alex and Maia), it’s nice to be in that competitive atmosphere still and not have the momentum of the rink slow down.”

There’s also a kinship that develops from understanding exactly what the other pair is going through, especially after a tough day of training.

“They’re feeling the same things,” said Virtue. “So it’s comforting.”

Still, being each other’s toughest competitors keeps that friendship from growing too far, Moir said.

“We definitely have a friendship… . I’m not going to pull the wool over your eyes and think that we’re holding hands and skipping out of the rink every day,” he said. “We respect what each other does, we love training with them and working hard and we wish them all the best.”

Just not a gold medal.

“It’s our job to come out and skate well and beat them,” Moir said.

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