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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Canadians Virtue and Moir make history with ice dance gold

It seems that Canadian ice dancers in the past could have used a loonie buried at centre ice when it came to the Olympics.

Not Monday night. It wasn't about luck.

Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moirof Ilderton, Ont., dazzled the judges and carved out a little history for themselves by becoming the first Canadians - and the first North Americans - to win an Olympic gold medal in ice dancing.

The only ice dancing medal ever won by a Canadian came from the team of Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall, who won bronze the last time the Olympics came to town - 22 years ago in Calgary.

"I was a little bit concerned coming in that it was becoming a curse,'' said Wilson, who is working here as a commentator for NBC. She remembered Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz in 2002 at Salt Lake City, falling in the final moments of their free dance and sliding off the podium. Wilson felt they could have won a medal.

Then there was Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon who fell on a lift in the original dance at the Turin Olympics four years ago. Dubreuil had to be carried off the ice and they were forced to withdraw. Wilson felt that they had put themselves in a position to win a medal then, too.

"I've done so many Olympics, you just know to expect the unexpected,'' she said.

Only one French team and one British team have broken a Soviet or Russian stronghold on Olympic ice dancing since it came into the Olympic fold in 1976.

Now there is one Canadian team. And what a team they are.

"I'm proud of ice dancing tonight,'' said Gwendal Peizerat of France, who along with Marina Anissina, was one of the teams that broke the stronghold. The other was Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. "It was probably one of the greatest ice dancing competitions I've seen," he added referring to the fact that it was well judged.

Virtue and Moir made their own luck. They won with a score of 221.57 points, the second-highest ice dancing point total in history. At ages 20 and 22, they are also the youngest Olympic ice dancing champions in history.
Their training mates, U.S. champions Meryl Davisand Charlie White won the silver medal with 215.74 points. The reigning world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia won the bronze with 207.64.

"It's been such a journey, and so many people have helped us along the way," Virtue said.

"Oh my god," Moir said. "It's an exceptional moment that we've always dreamed of. It's everything we've ever wanted and we couldn't be happier."

The crowd roared when the Canadians got the win, and cheered wildly when they stood on the podium. Moir took a breathless look at the scene around him, held up the medal and kissed it.

At Moir's home, fans took over the Ilderton Community Centre beside the rink where Moir began to skate for both the original dance and the free dance, sold 350 tickets at $2 a pop and watched the milestone victory.

"Tessa and Scott are so incredibly talented and we see that on a daily basis," Davis said in defeat. "We're so proud of them."

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