Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fine start for pairs skaters

Virtue and Moir second after compulsory dance session

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VANCOUVER -- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir began their quest Friday to capture Canada's first Olympic ice dance gold, finishing second in the compulsory dance at the Vancouver Games.

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., scored 42.74 points for their Tango Romantica, the original dance drawn for the Olympic competition.

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia led with 43.76. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White placed third with 41.47.

Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., were 15th with a score of 31.14.

Thrilled

Moir was thrilled with Friday's performance.

"We've been training for this moment and to have it come true out there just a little bit, for what's to come the next couple of days, it's really quite special for us," he said.

"We knew we were going to skate like that. That's exactly how we trained that dance, so we were quite excited to lay that down. A great start to our Olympic experience."

No North American team has ever won Olympic gold in ice dancing.

Virtue and Moir left nothing to chance in their preparation for the compulsory dance, flying in Elena Tchaikovskaya, the legendary coach who conceived the Tango Romantica in 1974, to their training base in Canton, Mich., in the week before arriving in Vancouver.

Tchaikovskaya once coached Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband -- Virtue and Moir's coaches --and travelled to Canton as a favour to her former students.

Virtue, 20, and Moir, 22, are the reigning world bronze medallists and won silver at the world championships in 2008.

Surgery

They missed most of last season while Virtue recovered from surgery to relieve chronic pain in her shins caused by compartment syndrome.

The compulsory dance, which is likely making its last appearance at the Olympics, is the first of three ice dance segments, and features all the couples skating the same standardized steps and holds to pre-determined music.

The International Skating Union is considering reducing ice dance to two segments to conform with men's, women's and pairs skating.

Virtue and Moir will skate a flamenco for their original dance Sunday. The free dance is Monday.

Skate Canada officials were gunning for three medals in Vancouver, but now their hopes lie with the ice dancers and Joannie Rochette in women's singles. Patrick Chan finished fifth in men's singles while Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were sixth in pairs.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2010 D6

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