Ice Network

Virtue, Moir win sixth title, aim for Olympic repeat

Small mistakes inspire reigning Olympic champions to perfect their game
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With their sixth national championship out of the way, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir now can focus on a bigger prize. -Getty Images

There were no surprises in the outcome of the ice dance competition at the Canadian figure skating championships, but Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir readily acknowledged there's room for improvement before they begin their title defense at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

"We wanted to go out there and attack," Moir said. "Following Kaitlyn [Weaver] and Andrew [Poje], obviously they're an elite team in the world; when they bring the house down like that, it adds some pressure. Stepping onto the ice when people are going crazy, it's more real, more what we'll feel probably in Sochi, so it was great practice."

Virtue, 24, and Moir, 26, the reigning Olympic gold medalists, were disappointed with their performance in the short dance. They came to the free dance determined to not only win a sixth title but also put out a strong performance. When they were done, they sat in the kiss and cry and spoke about things that need improvement before the Olympics.

"I think we're right on track," Virtue said. "The point is to peak in Sochi. It would be alarming if we skated perfectly both programs here. I think we're right where we need to be."

Unquestionably, the expectations for this history-making duo are intense. Moir said they joke that before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, they were contacted last minute about doing a TV special because there was a possibility they might medal. Fast forward four years, and they're being followed virtually everywhere by TV cameras as they film their own reality show.

After having coped with injuries, Virtue noted that since they began intense training for this season last summer, they haven't missed a single day of training.

Approximately 75 alumni of Canadian championships past have been in attendance in Ottawa this week, which Moir said made the competition that much more special. For two-time Canadian ice dance champion Barbara Berezowski, it's been exciting and enlightening to see the athleticism and finesse of today's competitors.

"The quality of the ice dancing was right up there," Berezowski said. "Obviously, Tessa and Scott were phenomenal and they skated really, really well. The top five were all very impressive. The speed and the performance level is what got me more than anything else. It was very polished."

When asked if this might be their final Canadian championships, Virtue and Moir said they weren't thinking past this season.

"I have no idea how Tracy [Wilson] and Rob [McCall won] seven and Victor [Kraatz] and Shae [Lynn Bourne] did 10. That's insane. Six is a lot," Moir said.

Defending a title is hard, especially when injuries factor in. Attempting to defend an Olympic title, which has only been done once in ice dancing, by Russians Oksana Grishuk and Evgeni Platov, is risky.

"I don't think many other people aside from our intimate training team would know what's gone into these last four years," Virtue said. "You really set yourself up when you're looking to defend your title."

Coach Marina Zoueva attended the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with Meryl Davis and Charlie White, but Virtue and Moir spoke with her before and after each practice and each program. Oleg Epstein was with the team in Ottawa.

Joining Virtue and Moir on the Canadian Olympic team are silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who narrowly missed making the team in 2010, and bronze medalists Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam.

Now it's back to Detroit, where all three teams train.

"We have our plan in place; now it's just taking care of the little details," Moir said. "We know that these are the programs that are going to put us on top of the podium. It's just executing them."

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