Canada dominating Four Continents

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made a big splash Wednesday in their international season debut.

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made a big splash Wednesday in their international season debut.

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., finished first in the compulsory dance program of the ice dance competition at the ISU Four Continents figure-skating championships in Vancouver.

The Canadians took top spot with a score of 36.40 points ahead of Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White (35.23), and Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., (32.43).

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., were fifth, with a score of 30.62.

Virtue and Moir won the Four Continents last year in South Korea but were making their international season debut Wednesday after they skipped the Grand Prix season in the fall and early winter because Virtue was recovering from surgery on both her legs.

"I think it's just sort of an up and down thing," Virtue said about the lingering pain in her legs. "We have to take each day as it comes and deal with it. It's nothing that anyone is worried about. I wouldn't be here if it was a major problem."

The couple only resumed training eight weeks ago, leaving Virtue anxious to get back on the ice.

"It seemed like a very long wait," Virtue said. "It's amazing the difference it feels on the international scene compared to at nationals. We were happy to be back at nationals and that is our favourite event skating in Canada, but there's the extra pressure here with the international competition, and we're definitely feeling that."

Virtue and Moir won the Canadian championships two weeks ago in Saskatoon, but Virtue said the event took a lot out of her.

"It was a stressful week and competing again, not just physically but emotionally, it was draining," she said. "I think that took a toll. I'm feeling stronger every day and I'm continuing with the recovery. At least I'm on this side of it now."

Rochette 2nd, Phaneuf 3rd in short program

In the ladies competition, Kim Yu-Na of South Korea won the short program with a score of 72.24.

Joannie Rochette of Ile-Dupas, Que., the defending Four Continents silver medallist, took second spot (66.90), and Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que., was third (60.98).

Japan's Mao Asada, the reigning world and Four Continents champion, was sixth (57.86).

Former Canadian national junior champion Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was 10th with a score of 49.78.

Dube and Davison second

Also on Wednesday, Canada's Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison finished second in the pairs short program behind China's Qing Pang and Jian Tong.

Dube, from Drummondville, Que., and Davison, from Cambridge, Ont., skated a near-flawless performance in earning 64.36 points.

The Canadians were docked points for going one second over the allowed time.

"Technically I'm very happy with everything that we did, just that deduction at the end, we were late, it ended up being 51 seconds intead of 50," Davison said. "Other than that, we did a really nice performance today."

Pang and Tong scored 65.60 points to win the short program, while compatriots Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang were third with 63.20.

Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Craig Buntin from Kelowna, B.C., scored 62.08 to place fourth.

Mylene Brodeur from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and John Mattatall of Wallace, N.S., finished sixth with 55.16 points.

With files from the Canadian Press

now