VANCOUVER -- Theirs has long been an almost uncanny alchemy -- great parts platonic love and respect -- and on Monday the mix was potent enough to transform a beautiful 14-year partnership and endless personal sacrifices into an Olympic gold medal in ice dance.
It wasn't so much magic on a grand scale, because implying sleight of hand or smoke and mirrors would not do justice to the intricate, romantic free dance program that sent Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir flying to the top of the podium at Pacific Coliseum. Quite simply, their heartfelt performance and technical mastery over ice dancing's ever more difficult elements -- the lifts and spins and twizzles -- set the bar too high even for their young friends and training mates, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who settled into silver, a rather distant six points behind.
"It's been such a journey and so many people have helped us along the way," began Virtue, who handed off to her excited partner.
"Oh my God," said Moir. "It's the exceptional moment we have always dreamt of. It's everything we've always wanted and we couldn't be happier."
The North American revolution complete, Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin were sent home with bronze to accompany their 2009 world gold. Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier made the most of their first Olympic trip by finishing strongly in 14th.
"We've seen the best of the best," said Poirier. "We'll go home and train harder than we have before. Expect good things."
Those kind of things have long been expected of Virtue and Moir, after they finished second at the worlds in 2008, then third last year. Even before that, they were the first Canadians to win a world junior title in 2006. And now they are the first Olympic gold medallists from Canada, a country that counts Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz among its ice dancing legion.
They have sparkled all week long in Vancouver and the fans met their final pose at centre ice with a standing ovation. It was fully deserved after Virtue and Moir scored a whopping 110.42 for their free dance for a total of 221.57.
-- Canwest Olympic Team