Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir break short dance world record
Canadian stars in 1st ahead of free dance
By Benjamin Blum, CBC Sports
Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were on their game in Pyeongchang, eclipsing their own world-record in the short dance at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The 2010 Olympic gold medallists are in first place after they earned 83.67 points for their samba, rhumba and cha cha routine set to Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones, Hotel California by The Eagles and Oye Como Va by Carlos Santana.
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"We knew we wanted to peak right now and we had a vision for this program, and we're thrilled with the way we executed today," Virtue, originally from London, Ont., told Paul Martini of CBC Sports.
Virtue and Moir received Level 4 marks on all five elements in their program. That included a dazzling midline step sequence to open the program and a rhumba sequence on which they were graded harshly during the team event.
"We've worked really hard, we really believe in our plan, we want to win but we just got to get in our own little moment out there and connect with each other," said Moir, of Ilderton, Ont.
"We've been doing this a long time [and] we've come to realize how special these moments are to share together."
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are in second place for France with an 81.93 in their samba, rhumba and samba dance. Papadakis had a "costume malfunction" according to CBC Sports broadcaster Kurt Browning, after the clasp in her halter broke and exposed her nipple.
"It's hard," said Papadakis. "You don't train to lose a few points because of a costume."
"It was pretty distracting, kind of my worst nightmare happening at the Olympics ... I told myself I don't have a choice. I have to keep going and that's what we did."
The French skaters are thought to be Virtue and Moir's most serious competition for a gold.
"The costume issue happened and it took away our focus a little bit," Cizeron said. "It's a little bit frustrating to know that it's not because of something that we did, it's just a costume issue, something as stupid as that so it's a little bit disappointing."
American skaters Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are in third, 2-100ths of a point ahead of siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani.
American-born Canadian Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., earned 74.33 points for their bolero and mambo routine and are in eighth ahead of the free dance.
Piper Gilles, who was also born in the U.S., and Paul Poirier of Unionville,Ont., sit ninth after earning 69.60 while dancing to bossa nova and mambo. Gilles and Poirier are skating in their first Olympics.
"They came to play today," said CBC Sports commentator Carol Lane, who also coaches Gilles and Poirier.
Olympic history on the line
If Virtue and Moir are successful in Monday's 8 p.m. ET free dance, they would become the second pair to win two ice dance golds, joining Russia's Pasha Grishuk and Evgeniy Platov who earned back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1998. The Canadians won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games in the competition, and silver four years later in Sochi.
A third ice dance medal of any colour for the Canadian stars would equal the record held by Marina Klimova and Sergey Ponomarenko. Klimova and Ponomarenko won bronze in 1984 and silver in 1988 for the Soviet Union, and gold as part of the Unified team in 1992.
Virtue and Moir already own gold from the team event earlier at these Games and have a chance to match Sweden's Gillis Grafstrom, Soviet skater Irina Rodnina and Norway's Sonja Henie — who won individual titles — with a third gold medal in the sport.
Papadakis and Cizeron are looking to become the first French ice dancers to win gold since Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat tool home top prize at the 2002 Games.
The Shibutanis have a shot at becoming the first siblings to win an ice dance medal at the Games since France's Isabelle Duchesnay-Dean and Paul Duchesnay earned silver in 1992.
CBC will re-broadcast and stream an edited version of the short dance Monday between 3-5 p.m. ET.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press