Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir named CBC Sports Canadian Athletes of the Year
Iconic ice dancers captivated a nation with a golden Olympic finale
Everything that can be said about Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir pretty much has already been said — and deservedly so.
The iconic ice dancers who enthralled Canadians for years concluded their illustrious careers with not one, but two gold medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The subsequent celebrations and farewell tour gave their many admirers one last chance to see Tessa and Scott — their fans always call them by their first names — and to reflect on a partnership that has spanned two decades.
Now it's our turn. Naming Tessa and Scott the CBC Sports Canadian Athletes of the Year gives us another opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to relive a moment that captivated an entire nation in 2018.
Take a look back at Tessa and Scott's 2018:
It could have all ended much differently at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Tessa and Scott entered the free dance with an incredibly slim lead over France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, despite breaking their own record score in the short dance the night before.
That, plus two American pairs within striking distance, left every conceivable outcome in play — from gold to missing the podium outright. Things only became more tense when Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, skating before Virtue and Moir and seemingly unfazed by a costume malfunction that marred their short dance the day before, set a new world record in the free program.
The French team's performance, set to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, mesmerized the judges, who gave them the highest overall score ever.
In that moment, the chance of a golden send-off for Tessa and Scott seemed to be slipping away. To eclipse their French training partners — how's that for additional intrigue? — they would need to surpass their previous personal best in the free skate and shatter a freshly minted world record.
No matter what, it would still be a fine farewell for the venerated Canadians, who had won a team-event gold in Pyeongchang to go along with their ice dance title from Vancouver in 2010 and a pair of silvers from Sochi. Tessa and Scott took the ice as fans around the world watched in quiet anticipation. That silence would not last long.
Watch Tessa and Scott's full free dance:
The Moulin Rouge free routine was a perfect fit — a dance exuding the raw passion the duo became famous for.
As the spectacle unfolded on the ice, any feelings of doubt or uncertainty among their fans gave way, replaced with a sense of awe and an appreciation for what was happening.
The intimacy Tessa and Scott brought to that final routine made it seem as if everyone had a front-row seat to their performance — from those watching in their Ontario hometowns of London and Ilderton, respectively, to Canadians nationwide and fans glued to their screens at home or at viewing parties.
When the final note sounded, a roar erupted from the crowd in South Korea as the two embraced on the ice. The final scores came shortly after — Tessa and Scott would cap off their Olympic careers with gold around their necks and a new overall world record.
Watch highlights from Tessa and Scott's farewell Olympics:
The year 2018 was filled with remarkable performances by Canadians, and Tessa and Scott were far from the only ones considered for our Athletes of the Year.
Golfer Brooke Henderson, with her entire career still ahead of her, secured her place in the pantheon of great Canadian athletes by becoming the first woman in 45 years to capture the national title — against an immensely talented field of competitors, no less, at the CP Women's Open.
Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond, another member of the Canadian squad who won Olympic team gold, went toe to toe with a pair of Russian titans to capture women's bronze in Pyeongchang and later followed it up with a world championship crown.
Watch Scott Russell and Heather Hiscox discuss this year's award:
On the subject of royalty, 2018 Lou Marsh Trophy winner Mikael Kingsbury captured a long-coveted Olympic moguls gold to go along with a pair of Crystal Globes from the World Cup circuit and is showing no signs of slowing down. He recently surpassed 50 career World Cup wins and has kept adding to his haul since then.
These impressive feats emphasize the elite company that Tessa and Scott found themselves in this year. Their final free skate will be remembered fondly as a moment that transcended sports and made Canadians feel united, however briefly, by the grace and power of two of their finest champions.
Take a look back at Tessa and Scott's career together: