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Virtue, Moir plan competitive return

Short dance gets mixed reviews; Reynolds adds name to record books

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir said they will return to competition.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir said they will return to competition. (Lynn Rutherford)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/30/2010) - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Olympic and world champions who withdrew from Skate Canada after Virtue underwent leg surgery on Oct. 2, met with the press to update reporters on Virtue's progress.

"The surgeons did an amazing job," Virtue said. "I'm really hopeful . . . I'm already feeling good."

This was the 21-year-old skater's second operation to relieve pressure in the soft tissues of her lower legs, caused by chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS), an overuse injury. She also had surgery in the fall of 2008, which took the couple out of that season's Grand Prix.

It looks like this surgery will do the same this season; while the skaters refused to set a specific target for their return to the ice, Moir said it was "very unlikely" they would compete at Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris at the end of next month.

"We don't want to set a timetable [for a return]; we don't need that extra pressure," Virtue said.

"We love our programs this season . . . both of our programs are set, the choreography is done, we were able to train them this summer. Hopefully, once we are back on the ice, it will take us less time [to prepare]."

"We want to compete [again] and we want to win," Moir added.

Although it didn't impact their programs, Virtue admitted she was often in pain after practices at the Vancouver Olympics.

"[The pain] was the last thing on my mind when we were competing," she said, adding that just walking the three minutes from her room to the athlete's cafeteria was a chore that had to be carefully managed.

While Virtue rehabs off ice, Moir said he's skating on his own for a few hours a day, doing a lot of Golden Waltz patterns.

"I've been following the Grand Prix, keeping up with the short dance, what's going on," he said.

Ice dance levels get more scrutiny than ever
The short dance, a hybrid of the compulsory and original dances making its debut this season, is getting mixed reviews.

Some like the idea of preserving compulsories by combining them with other elements; others find the combination of the Golden Waltz (the compulsory sequence chosen this season) and a Tango or Quickstep rhythm jarring.

Most agree the scoring takes some getting used to. In the short dance, the technical panel assigns levels to the two Golden Waltz patterns, using key criteria identified in ISU communications. Thus far, some panels seem to be more critical than others.

"When you're doing a Golden Waltz, there's a lot to think about, so it's nice to have some key points to focus on," Madison Chock, who with partner Greg Zuerlein sits fourth after the short dance, said. "Now we have free space in our heads to think about levels."

"The past few months, we've focused a lot on the Golden," Zuerlein said. "We saw at NHK, with Meryl [Davis] and Charlie [White], and the Shibutanis, you're not always sure about the levels. You try to be very precise with the key points."

Marina Zoueva, who with Igor Shpilband coaches Davis and White; Maia and Alex Shibutani; and Chock and Zuerlein, was more forthright. Although Chock and Zuerlein did well in the short dance here, getting levels 3 and 4, the coach is still smarting from the scoring at NHK Trophy.

"It is really hard for [the technical panel]," Zoueva said. "Sometimes callers must not have enough time to catch everything. Sometimes things need more review.

"Meryl and Charlie, getting Level 1 [on sequence 2] in Japan, was a little weird. There is a huge difference between Level 1 and Level 4. For sure, they did something not right, but Level 1? Charlie's Choctaw was a little too flat, but there is Level 2, Level 3.

"Of course the ISU is trying something new, why not, that is fine; now ice dance is normal, it is just two days [events]. But I don't think it is working out so far."

Although the short dance calling cost Davis and White a few points, it didn't matter much in the end; the Olympic and world silver medalists still won the event by a comfortable margin.

Quick hits
At age 29, Japan's Fumie Suguri soldiers on, despite slipping from second in the world in 2006 to seventh place at the Japanese Championships last season.

"I was not happy with how I skated at nationals, especially because I always want a good performance, not only results. I have been doing the sport for long years and that is not how I wanted to finish."

How long will she continue? "I don't know, as long as possible"

Kevin Reynolds, who executed a quad toe and quad Salchow-triple toe combination yesterday, is the first skater to do two quads in his short program. He added his name to an impressive list of groundbreaking Canadian skaters, including Don Jackson, who landed the first triple Lutz in 1962; Kurt Browning, who executed the first ratified quad at the 1988 worlds; and Elvis Stojko, who performed the first quad combination at the 1991 worlds.