Canada’s ice dance powerhouses Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir helped secure Canada’s first gold medal at PyeongChang, taking the top spot in both the short and free dance, and winning the team event. With their new hardware, Virtue and Moir join the club of the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history, tied with two retired Olympians.
"We wanted to win the team event in 2018 and we believed in ourselves and we talked about it as a team,” Moir said. “We wanted to make sure we got this gold. As Canadians, we were born on the ice.”
Virtue and Moir’s PyeongChang team gold brings their Olympic medal count up to four, tying with Sweden’s Gillis Grafstrom, who skated in the 1920s and ‘30s, and Yevgeny Plushenko from Russia.
Plushenko won medals three consecutive times in men’s singles, taking silver in the 2002 Salt Lake Games, gold in 2006 in Torino and silver in Vancouver in 2010. Even though he didn’t compete in men’s singles at the 2014 Sochi Games, he capped his Olympic record with gold in the first-ever team event. With such an illustrious career, maybe it’s no wonder his Sochi free skate was called “Best of Plushenko,” commemorating his best skating.
Just days after tying for most decorated figure skaters in history, Virtue and Moir will contend for another medal in ice dancing. Should they land on the podium in that event, they will break the medals record and won’t have to share the distinction with two others.
"I just think how fortunate we've been to be able to compete in the world's best scale,” Moir said. “I think Tessa and I, we'll personally judge our successes on the generations that come after us. If there's good Canadians that come up, that speaks volumes to me, more than our medal count.”
Virtue and Moir first picked up Olympic gold in 2010 at the Vancouver Games. They followed that up with two more medals – both silver – in the team event and ice dance, missing out on team gold to Russia and ice dance gold to U.S. duo Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
After over 20 years of competing together (they started in 1997 when Virtue was 7 and Moir was 9), the pair has won three world championship titles and notched the highest score ever recorded under the judging system several times. They took a break from competition after the Sochi Games in 2014, returning in a blaze to win the 2017 World Championship title (their third) ahead of the Olympics.
Even before the PyeongChang Games started, their free dance routine to the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack made waves, with the film’s director Baz Luhrmann giving them a Twitter shoutout.
To Moir, medals are great, but they’re not everything. (“They spend most of the time at my mom's house," he says.) Coming out of the team event, Moir stressed how important the team aspect of figure skating is.
“Skating past the team box and feeling the support from our teammates, you don't want to let your teammates down,” he said.
Virtue and Moir will begin their campaign for a fifth Olympic medal on Feb. 19 when the ice dance short dance begins. The free dance will take place the following day, which will end Virtue and Moir’s PyeongChang run - and likely their competitive careers.