Ice Network

Brilliant Virtue, Moir continue Canadian dominance

Olympic champions claim seventh gold medal at Canadian championships
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Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir proved once again why they're among the best dance teams in the world, capturing yet another Canadian title Saturday in Ottawa. -Getty Images

Throughout a brilliant career that has included Olympic gold and silver medals, and six world medals -- two of them gold -- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have mesmerized audiences. After a two-year break from competition, they have returned this season with a new coaching team and new approach to training and competing. This afternoon in Ottawa, they earned their seventh title at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

They glided through their lyrical free dance set to Sam Smith's "Latch," earning 118.79 points and a new Canadian record of 203.15 total points en route to victory.

"That was a big program for us, actually," Moir told reporters after the win. "It's always special to get a Canadian title. For Tessa and I, that was a great skate, and we're very proud of both performances we put on the ice this week. We're kind of building for Four Continents and worlds."

Virtue, 27, and Moir, 29, have admitted they were nervous in the early stages of this competitive return, but they put out solid performances during the fall season, which they capped off with their first Grand Prix Final title. Coming into the Canadian championships, the team felt pressure to top what it had previously accomplished.

Moir described this week as both a whirlwind and a confidence boost.

"We know we need to take a step up," Moir said. "The top teams in the world are going to be gunning for us now."

He and Virtue gave credit to their coaches, Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, for creating excellent programs and raising the level of their skating. They now train in Montreal, and this was the duo's first time representing Quebec at the Canadian championships.

In a teleconference prior to the championships, Virtue said learning as adults is a different process. Paired together as young kids, they're still inspired to improve and show new sides to their skating. They've even changed some of their mechanics.

"We've surrounded ourselves with such a magnificent team," Virtue said. "We're trying to be sponges and soak up all the information."

Moir said he and Virtue were surprised that they had to sort of relearn how to approach competition after two years away.

"Maybe not completely, but we were fortunate we decided to do some competitions early (in the season) because we felt that at Autumn Classic and Skate Canada the pressure got to us," Moir said. "We were used to going on the ice and making a performance happen.

"Expectations and the competitive atmosphere is so much different than our show skating," he continued. "Also, when we matured as athletes and hopefully got a fresher perspective, it changes how you think as an athlete when you get into a pressure situation. That surprised me a little bit, to be honest, that we had to kind of relearn that.

"We expect that there will be some more bumps to iron out in the next four or five competitions before the Olympic Games. That's the fun of it. It's exciting to be able to go into competition and have so much pressure."

Two-time Canadian champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who now train in New Jersey with Nikoli Morozov, struggled a bit in the short dance but rebounded to give an intense, dramatic performance in the free to finish second with 192.73 points.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were third with 189.68.