Virtue, Moir lengthen lead with fiery Flamenco

Kerrs drop to third after original dance

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were cagey when asked about their competitive plans next season.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were cagey when asked about their competitive plans next season. (Getty Images)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/16/2009) - Sparks, skirts and skates flew, and when the dust settled, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir opened up a 8.45-point lead over the field.

"We love the music of the Flamenco; when we hear it, we just look at each other and sparks fly," Moir said.

"We heard this and loved it; I think its very powerful and passionate," Virtue added.

Aided by Virtue's long black skirt, which she handled and twirled with assurance, the young Canadians skated with speed and aggression, transforming a normally confined dance to the Olympic-sized ice rink with flair. A stunningly quick flip-up to a curve lift was a highlight.

"We started working on this dance on the floor, with Flamenco specialists [Luis Montero and Christina Scott]," Virtue said.

"It was weird at first, because the Flamenco stage is so small. It was hard for them to understand the movement on the ice."

Impressive as it was, the program's elements did not gain Level 4's across the board. Both step sequences were graded Level 3.

"We'll definitely take a look and it and find out what we have to do. We're definitely shooting for all Level 4's," Moir said.

"I think the ISU did a good job of making the rules a little trickier, so that not every team can get them. You really have to perform your footwork well."

French champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat moved into second after earning 56.34 points for their OD to "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," the second of three American folk dances done in succession.

"We wanted to fit in with everyone else this year," Bourzat joked of their speedy, intricate dance.

"Two years ago, we did a Flamenco, while everyone else did a Russian folk dance. People asked, 'Why a Flamenco? Is it in the rules?' So this time we tried to do something everyone else was doing."

The French team takes 91.87 into the free dance, putting them just over a point ahead of Britons Sinead Kerr and John Kerr, who lost ground when both of the step sequences in their routine to Johnny Cash's version of "I've Been Everywhere" were graded Level 2.

"Our element score was a little low; it's something to work on for our next competition," John said.

"We'll have to go back to the drawing board a little bit to see if we can get some higher [levels on the] elements."

Like the French and British couples, U.S. silver medalists Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates performed an American folk dance, in their case to the Dixie Chick's "Longtime Gone." They placed sixth in the original dance with 46.55 points, and bring 77.66 points into the free dance.

"We actually went with what the ISU recommended; it wanted couples to represent the dances of their countries this Olympic year," the couple's coach, Yuri Tchesnitchenko, said. "Now suddenly everyone is doing country."

The program was fast-paced and entertaining, although Bates faltered slightly on a twizzle sequence. Samuelson even managed to outdo Sinead Kerr by wearing the briefer Daisy Mae-style jean shorts.

"We were thinking a dress, but it didn't work out for some reason," she said. "I actually bought these at Kohl's [department store] two or three years ago."

"That's why they're so short," Bates added.

Two-time U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, who performed to Afro-Brazilian rhythms, were fourth in the OD with 48.17 points and now sit fifth overall with 77.36. Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell's Ukrainian folk dance landed them in tenth place in the OD with 70.24 points overall headed into the free dance.