Winter Olympics: Golden comeback for Canadian skaters Moir and Virtue

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capped an incredible return to form, winning gold Tuesday in the final of the Ice Dance competition at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Performing to the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack, the skaters matched their first place finish in last year’s World Championships — after they took an extended break from international competitions following a disappointing, for them, Silver place finish at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

Medals are decided by the pair’s combined score in the short program and the free skate, and even a new world record in the latter, set minutes earlier by French skaters Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, couldn’t top Virtue and Moir’s combined score of 206.07.

That score itself is a new world record under rules which have been in place since 2010. Scores under the previous system, which involved three segments rather than two, were higher.

Speaking after her victory was announced, Virtue said the experience was “amazing.”

“It was a special moment to come out last,” she added. “It was a strong last group, there was a lot of pressure, but I’m so happy with how we performed.”

The pressure came chiefly from the French pair, who will be forgiven for feeling somewhat bitter. They suffered a wardrobe malfunction in their run Monday, frazzling them and costing points. But for the slightly lower score in that skate, it could have been them going home Tuesday in first place.

Long-term partners

Virtue and Moir’s Gold — the second they’re taking home from Pyeongchang, after winning in the team skate too — has been decades in the making.

The pair first began skating together when Virtue was seven and Moir nine, according to the official Pyeongchang website, and made history by becoming the first North American Olympic Ice Dance champions in 2010, winning in their home country at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

They are currently Canada’s most decorated Ice Dance team of all time, according to CBC.

Virtue and Moir, who are known for their passionate — sometimes overly so, according to some observers — performances, train up to 35 hours a week together in Montreal, under coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Haguenauer.

Bronze for the Shibutanis

Taking their second Bronze medal of this Olympics, US siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani came third in the Ice Dance.

Speaking after the final scores were announced, Alex said he was overjoyed by the result.

“It feels like gold. It’s unbelievable. I am so proud of the way we fought through this week and the season. We are so emotional,” he said.

Maia added “it’s obviously a strong event.”

“This was an incredible ice-dance event and to know we gave it our very best means everything,” she said, adding the two had maintained a belief they could win a medal Tuesday, despite a comparatively low score in the short program.

“We felt that our short dance was amazing. So there was no reason to be concerned about the score,” she said. “We knew we had done the best we could have and we had been skating well the last two weeks.”

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