Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir win 5th Skate Canada title
Olympic ice dance champions scored 181.03 for gold
Scott Moir was teased about getting "misty" on the medal podium Saturday, as he sang along to the national anthem after winning Skate Canada International gold.
Moir and partner Tessa Virtue had just captured their fifth Skate Canada Grand Prix title to kick off what will likely be their final season competing.
"Misty? I was checking the Leafs score," Moir shot back, to much laughter.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," he added. "It's emotional, I think for Tessa and I, hearing your anthem in your own country, it's very special.
"We've been lucky to have some great opportunities, Olympic Games, many Skate Canadas … but it's always special to stand up there to hear your national anthem and sing along to it. Smelling the roses, if you will."
Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., scored 181.03 points, bringing the Harbour Station crowd to its feet with their elegant free dance to music by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov — a program they call their "labour of love," set to a piece of music that has already seen 25 revisions — and counting.
They hope it's the program that will propel them back to the top of the Olympic ice dance podium one more time.
"Tessa and I, it was really about creating a moment with this program, and we were able to do that for ourselves, and hopefully fans felt it as well," Moir said.
Canadian teammates Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje claimed silver with 175.23, while Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won bronze with 153.20.
Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., skated to music from "The Seasons," a Russian ballet that has never been used in international competition and a piece of music their coach Marina Zoueva chose to appeal to Russian sensibilities at the Sochi Olympics.
If last season's free dance to "Carmen" was all drama and passion, "The Seasons" is silvery grace, more similar in style to their free program that won them gold at the Vancouver Games, but still unique, and packed full of intricate lifts and spins.
"Winning the Olympics is our main goal, but we know we can't do anything that's been done before, we don't want to be compared to anyone else … and having music that no one has ever skated to is motivating for us," Moir said. "We want to create a unique moment in our career. We have to stay true to ourselves and even when we're trying to win the Olympics, we're not willing to sell out to do it."
The ballet represents the four seasons, but also represents the course of the Canadians' career. The beginning is about their love for skating, the middle about their outside pressures and conflicts, and then rediscovering their love for skating.
The final 30 seconds, Moir explained in his Coles Notes version, is meant to be the two in Sochi, "triumphing and achieving our goal."
"One thing we wanted to make sure this season is we didn't try and repeat what we did in Vancouver. It's easy to go back and duplicate that but so much has changed, in the sport of ice dancing but also in our own skating and within our partnership. So Marina had a great vision of how she wanted this program," Virtue explained. "It's important to show the change of seasons, Glazunov's seasons, but also to relate to our story.
"There's so much to tell in the last 17 years and I think that makes us that more invested and connected to the program."
In pairs earlier in the day, Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford went from from elated to frustrated in the span of a few minutes as uncharacteristically low technical marks dropped the pair to bronze.
Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek won gold with 193.92 points, while China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong claimed the silver (193.77). Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and RudiSwiegers of Kipling, Sask., were fourth.
Julia Lipnitskaia, a 15-year-old phenom from Russia, won the women's singles title, scoring 198.23 points after a virtually flawless long program. Akiko Suzuki claimed the silver with 193.75, while American Gracie Gold won bronze (186.65). Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was fifth.
There was more disappointment on the Canadian team Saturday when Kaetlyn Osmond, a 17-year-old from Marystown, N.L., withdrew with a hamstring injury.