Virtue and Moir captivated Canadians with mystery as much as medals

The idea of a relationship between two equals was irresistible and as Canadians, we ate it up.

Skating legends said they were fortunate to have such support. Truth be told, we were the lucky ones

The performances of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir created the impression you had somehow come upon a private moment between two people. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Peeking out from behind a curtain at the Ilderton Winter Club's annual ice show circa 1999, near London, Ont., and watching Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate, I was standing with Moir's big brother Danny, also an ice dancer, who told me that he needed to retire from the sport because Tessa and Scott, then preteens, were that good.

Even then, the potential of that young dance team was remarkable and easy to spot.

What we couldn't have known more than 20 years ago was their eventual and deserved elevation to legendary status.

Virtue and Moir have won everything there is to win in the sport, from two individual ice dance Olympic gold medals, to an Olympic team title and then two more Olympic silvers to boot. And that doesn't even include world championships and other titles. But their accomplishments are only part of the story.

Early on, Canadians were captivated by Virtue and Moir's relationship as observed in their programs on the ice. It didn't seem to matter which program you watched, the idea that you had somehow come upon a private moment between two people is how I can best describe Virtue and Moir's skating.

WATCH | Virtue and Moir win gold in Vancouver 2010:

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate to ice dance gold at Vancouver 2010 Olympics

4 years ago
Duration 6:26
Featured VideoWatch Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's gold medal ice dance skate from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

That care, commitment and courtesy extended to how they presented themselves off the ice. The idea of a relationship between two equals was irresistible and we ate it up. 

That Virtue and Moir have been able to walk a fine line between mystery and accessibility throughout their career has been part of their appeal. I don't know of two more gracious athletes in victory and defeat. Away from the cameras, they have taken care to respect and acknowledge their fans.

None of this is to say that these two aren't serious artists or intensely competitive. They are. Their careers and their programs have run the gamut from sweet and innocent, like their Vancouver 2010 gold-winning routine, to Mahler's Fifth Symphony, to their sultry Carmen and most recently, their unabashedly strong Moulin Rouge winning routine in Pyeongchang in 2018.

WATCH | More gold in Pyeongchang 2018:

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win ice dance gold | Pyeongchang Lookback

5 years ago
Duration 2:20
Featured VideoThe Canadian duo reigned supreme in South Korea.

Winning is the goal and is in the heart of every athlete. Every figure skating season starts with the hope that the pre-season work leading into competition will be enough to capture the judges' attention. What separates Virtue and Moir from the rest is their willingness to take risks artistically and satisfy themselves first.

On their Twitter video announcing they were retiring, Moir mentioned how lucky they were to have shared their career with everyone. Truth be told, we were the lucky ones.

The Canadian identity for many includes qualities of humility, grace under pressure and fearlessness. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took those ingredients, added a few more and invited Canadian fans to share in the result. If Virtue and Moir wore jerseys on their backs, now would be the time to retire their numbers and hang them from the rafters in their honour. 

Thanks for the memories.

WATCH | Roxanne: Behind the scenes of Virtue and Moir's Olympic journey:

Roxanne: Behind the scenes of Virtue and Moir's Olympic journey

6 years ago
Duration 24:32
Featured VideoGo behind the scenes as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir developed their 2018 Olympic gold-medal winning free dance, set to the music of 'El Tango de Roxanne' from the film Moulin Rouge!


Pj Kwong currently does freelance work for Skate Ontario as the Business Development manager and has consulted for Alpine Canada in media relations. She’s been a veteran stadium announcer for eight Olympic Games, two Paralympic Games, one European Games, and the Arab Games. Most recently she’s done stadium announcing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and the 2019 Pan American Games and Parapan American Games. Pj has worked as a freelance writer for CBC Sports since 2006 covering figure skating. Outside of the CBC, Pj has worked in Press Operations for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Media Relations for the Toronto 2017 Invictus Games.