Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Virtue, Moir in hot pursuit of another gold

Start on top of worlds after historic Oly triumph

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TURIN, Italy -- They made history at the Winter Olympics, now Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are trying to add a gold medal to their world figure skating championships resumé.

The Canadian duo -- who at the 2010 Vancouver Games became the first North Americans to win gold in Olympic ice dance -- are in the lead with a career-best 44.13 points following Tuesday's compulsory dance.

"It felt strong,'' Virtue told Agence France-Presse. "We were excited to get out there, maybe the last time having to skate this.''

Olympic silver medallists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. -- who train with Virtue and Moir in Canton, Mich. -- sit in second place with 43.25 points, while third spot belongs to home favourites Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy with 40.85 points.

Virtue, 20, of London, Ont., and Moir, 22, of Ilderton, Ont., skated three near-perfect routines at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver to win the ice dancing competition and have won medals at each of the last two world championships -- silver in 2008 and bronze in 2009. A gold at the worlds is the only thing missing from their resumé.

"We've never gotten a world title, so it's something we've been planning on,'' Virtue said.

The pair feared there might be a bit of a letdown at the world championships following their thrilling Olympic victory on home soil. So far, that hasn't been the case.

"We expected it to be a huge crash after the Olympics, but we've done two weeks of great training after that and it's not hard to stay motivated when you're training with Meryl and Charlie,'' Virtue told AFP.

Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., are ninth with 33.32 after the compulsory dance.

The original dance is set for Thursday and free dance Friday.

In pairs competition, 2008 world bronze medallists Jessica Dubé of St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, Que., and Bryce Davison of Huntsville, Ont., sit in eighth place with 59.36 points, while Anabelle Langlois of Gatineau, Que., and Edmonton's Cody Hay are in 12th place with 54.40 points.

Olympic silver medallists Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China led after the short program with a career-best 75.28 points, followed by Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia with 73.12 points and Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy for Germany.

 

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 24, 2010 C1

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