Canadian figure skating duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir withdrew Friday during their free dance competition at the Four Continents skating championships in Taipei City, Taiwan, due to injury.
Skate Canada's high performance director Michael Slipchuk told Scott Russell of CBC Sports that Virtue felt tightness in her left quad muscle, adding it "is all part of the process in getting to be back on top.
"The free dance they're doing is very demanding and definitely takes a higher toll, and today when they started, she just felt with the tightness in the quad, she was just not able to continue."
About 30 seconds into their routine, Virtue stumbled on a twizzle and then hooked her leg around Moir's neck in their rotational lift. Once Moir put Virtue down, it appeared she wanted to stop but Moir pushed Virtue into their next sequence to indicate he wanted to continue.
Virtue then skated to the bench and coaches Marina Zueva and Igor Shpillban. Following a brief conversation, Moir told the referee they were leaving the ice and competition. Virtue had strained her left quad muscle in training prior to Four Continents.
This was the pair's first competition since Virtue underwent surgery in October to relieve pressure from compartment syndrome. She had a similar procedure in 2008.
"It's nothing major. Nothing linked to the surgery she just had," Slipchuk said of Virtue. "They made the decision at that point to withdraw from the free program because the goal for them is [next month's worlds in Tokyo] and they don't want to push anything at a time that they don't have to, that might cause a setback."
The Canadian ice dancers entered Friday holding a slim lead over their American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White — the reigning world and Olympic silver medallists — after Thursday's short program in the ice dance competition.
"It was exciting for Tess and I to get back on the ice," said Moir, who described the performance as "comfortable and strong."
Virtue and Moir combined precision, fluency and elegance to score 69.40 points. Davis and White, their training partners in Detroit, counted 69.01.
Davis and White went on to win the event with 172.03 points after an impressive free skate.
"They have gone through a lot this season," said Davis of Virtue and Moir. "I'm not exactly sure what happened, but we don't really think about it too much. When we come into competitions, we worry about skating our best. When we leave a competition, we're thinking about how we can improve. I'm sure they are disappointed but we are excited and happy with how we skated."
Crone, Poirier place 3rd
American siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani were second with 155.38, and Canadian dance champions Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., were third with 151.83.
Davis and White now turn their attention to next month's world championships, where they will try to become the first Americans to win a world or Olympic title in ice dance.
"Coming into this season, we were looking to improve our skating after such a successful year last year. We wanted to try to take things in a little bit of a different direction with our free dance being a tango this year. It started off a little bit rough, but we're pleased with the progress we've made," White said.
"We are still really looking to the worlds, that's what we've been building toward. That's the one that counts the most in our books."
Olympic silver medallists Qing Pang and Jian Tong won the pairs competition, turning in an impressive performance in the free skate.
The world champions wowed the crowd with a precise and fluent skating display, scoring a season's best 128.04 points for a total of 199.45.
Earlier, Daisuke Takahashi of Japan surged to a commanding lead after the men's short program with 83.49 points. That put him comfortably ahead of Jeremy Abbot of the United States, who had 76.73 points. Japanese rival Yuzuru Hanyu was third with 76.43 points.
Canada's Patrick Chan isn't competing at Four Continents.
The Four Continents, which features skaters from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania, is a counterpart to the European Championships and concludes Sunday.With files from The Canadian Press