Long after the event ended and the arena had emptied, Scott Moir
stole back onto the ice. Clutching his gold medal in one hand, he
knelt down and kissed the Olympic rings at center ice.
Then he climbed into the stands, took pictures with the cleaning
crew and signed a few autographs. He even let a few folks touch the
medal for a second or two.
He and his partner, Tessa Virtue, had knocked the Russians from
their traditional perch atop the ice dance podium, so this party
was going to last a long time.
Virtue and Moir won the dance title Monday night, a first for
the Canadians – heck, for anybody in North America. For only the
third time since ice dance became an Olympic sport in 1976, the
gold went to someone other than a Russian or Soviet couple.
“I’ll probably wear it in the shower,” Moir said. “I’m not
going to take it off all week.”
The Russians won’t have that option. They’ve been oh-for-gold in
pairs, men’s competition and now dance – events they’re used to
dominating. They could very well go home without winning at least
one skating event for the first time since 1960.
Russia couldn’t even win the silver in dance. That went to
two-time U.S. champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, giving the
United States back-to-back dance medals for the first time.
Reigning world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of
Russia were third.
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, silver medalists at the 2006
Olympics and the skaters who started this dance revolution, were
“North America has really come into its own in terms of ice
dance,” Davis said. “This Olympics is a little bit of a turning
point again. It’s really exciting to be a part of it.”
Davis and White’s silver was the 25th medal won by the U.S.,
matching its record set in 2006 for medals won at a Winter Olympics
away from home. The Americans are guaranteed of passing that,
because the U.S. women’s hockey team can do no worse than a silver
“For us to be a part of that, it’s really exciting,” Davis
Virtue’s jaw dropped when she saw their overall score of 221.57
and Moir jumped to his feet, screaming almost as loudly as the
crowd that was shattering the decibel meter. With Davis and White,
second after the original dance, already finished, Virtue and Moir
knew the gold was all but theirs.
Virtue and Moir finished 5.83 points ahead of the Americans,
their close friends and training partners in Detroit.
“I don’t think either of us would be where we are without the
other. We help each other on our bad days, and even push it a
little more on the good days,” Moir said. “To have each other up
there on the podium, side by side, it’s amazing. They’re such great
“I’m sure they wanted to be up on the top of the podium, but
they don’t show any of that to us,” he added. “They’re just such
great friends, and they gave us the best hug.”
Moir couldn’t stop moving on the medals podium, and he shook his
bouquet so hard during their victory lap that flowers went flying
across the ice. The couple looked around the arena as the ceremony
started and, recognizing that few fans had left, made sure to
display their medals to every corner of the arena, inviting
everyone to share a piece of their triumph. With each new wave of
applause, their grins widened.
After their lap, Moir jumped into the stands and held up his
medal so fans could get a closer look. Then he and Virtue sprinted
back onto the ice, holding up the Canadian flag.
“Right now, Vancouver is our favorite place to be,” Virtue
said. “It’s been the perfect games.”
Virtue and Moir’s program was tender and sensual, like a married
couple stealing away for a romantic evening. Their gentle, slow
start showcased their skating skills, their edges so quiet and
smooth they appeared to float above the ice. Make no mistake,
though, there was plenty of strength behind that softness.
They had as much power and speed as the hockey players Moir
admires so much, but it was performed with balletic grace. Their
combination spin seemed to go on forever, with many different
positions and edge changes.
And their lifts, oh my. Virtue looked almost angelic on one,
balancing on his right thigh with her arms outstretched while he
stayed in a deep-knee, spread-eagle bend before she flipped forward
and into his arms.
When they finished, they hugged each other tightly. It’s been a
tough road for the Canadians, who missed almost all of the 2008-09
season after she had surgery to relieve chronic pain in both her
“I wasn’t sure we’d ever get back,” Virtue said. “That makes
this victory even sweeter.”
While Virtue and Moir were all softness and grace, Davis and
White’s “Phantom of the Opera” was big and bold, as powerful as
any Broadway production. They skated perfectly to the music, flying
across the ice in the fast parts and oozing romance when it
Their lifts were akin to stunts, done at breakneck speed yet
with perfect control. In one, White flipped Davis over his shoulder
so she faced the opposite direction. Then, skating backward on one
leg, he picked up the other and crossed it behind him, using it to
balance his partner. With her arms stretched out wide, that crossed
leg was the only thing keeping her from plunging to the ice.
Davis and White’s only flaw was a point deduction, likely for an
extended lift. But it wouldn’t have made a difference in the final
“When you’re in the moment and you’re just enjoying yourself,
it’s easy to step over,” Davis said.
Domnina and Shabalin’s routine was very theatrical and highly
entertaining, but ice dance has moved beyond the theater it was 10
years ago. The sport now requires good, old-fashioned skating
skills, power and innovation, and Domnina and Shabalin didn’t quite
They didn’t have the same speed of either the Canadians or the
Americans and their steps weren’t as difficult. Not surprising,
considering Shabalin has been plagued by knee problems the last
three seasons. When they saw their marks, they nodded
matter-of-factly and headed backstage.
The Canadians, meanwhile, got ready for a party that might last
all the way until Sochi.
“We knew it was in us, but to get out there on the Olympic ice
and to perform and to execute like that,” Moir said, “it’s a
feeling that I’ve never had.”
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