Golden Skate

Virtue and Moir capture second Olympic gold; make history

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada have now become the most decorated Olympic figure skaters, breaking the record of four by Sweden’s Gillis Grafström and Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko.

2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada edged out France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron by less than a point to capture their second Olympic gold in Ice Dance at the 2018 Winter Olympics. USA’s Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the bronze, while teammates Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue finished fourth.

Virtue and Moir skated with intensity in their Free Dance to music from Moulin Rouge, playing their characters to the hilt. The 2014 Olympic silver medalists engaged the crowd with perfectly synchronized twizzles and also brought back their original rotational lift, but it was the final curve lift which was delivered with a firm and final note of triumph.

“I am thrilled with this competition,” said Virtue. “That performance was really special and truly memorable. The gold medal is the cherry on the cake. We are so grateful to our team for having prepared us for this. We are taking in every single moment.”

The team earned a level 4 on all elements, as well as many positive Grades of Execution (GOE) earning a new personal best of 122.40 points for a second-place finish in the Free Dance. With a total score of 206.07, the Canadians were able to maintain their overnight lead to win the gold.

Moir felt this win was extremely different than that in 2010.

“Obviously, 2010 we were in our own country,” he pointed out. “Those are moments we will never forget, but eight years later, we’re completely different people, we’re completely different athletes.

“We still love what we do,” he added. “It’s personal this time. It was for each other, we skated with each other in mind the whole way and we skated with our hearts. It’s extremely fulfilling.”

After winning their fifth Olympic medal in figure skating, Virtue and Moir have now become the most decorated Olympic figure skaters, breaking the record of four by Sweden’s Gillis Grafström and Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko.

When asked if she could ever imagine this, Virtue’s response was, “Certainly not. Although in grade one, I did write in my journal that I wanted to be at the Olympics with Danny Moir, Scott’s brother, so I’m close.”

Virtue and Moir are planning to make an announcement regarding their future soon, but for now, they just want to take in the moment and “let the dust kind of settle” and figure out what’s next.

Papadakis and Cizeron skated with ease and were seamless in their brilliant routine to “Moonlight Sonata.” The French earned no less than +2 GOEs for all elements, displaying exceptional level 4 lifts and twizzles, as well as level 4 circular and midline steps.

“It was a really great performance,” said Papadakis. “We couldn’t have skated better. It was amazing to deliver what we did today for our first Olympics.”

“We had nothing to lose,” said Cizeron of their performance. “We just focused on staying in our bubble and deliver the most emotions we could, the more love we could.”

The team set a new record for the Free Dance (their sixth) of 123.35 to finish in first, however, with a total score of 205.28, the two-time World champions were not able to take the top podium.

“We knew it was possible and we wanted it (the gold),” said Papadakis, “but we did our best and we have nothing to regret. I am very moved right now. I think I’d start to cry if you tell me now that the dog of your grandmother died. There are lots of emotions coming out right now.”

“There are a lot of emotions right now,” agreed Cizeron. “We really did the best we could out there. It was almost the perfect performance. We’re just really proud of that.

“I was just glad that we did the best we can,” he said of their record-breaking score. “I didn’t know if it would be enough to beat Tessa and Scott, but we have nothing to regret. It did not give us first place, but we are extremely pleased with the performance, the emotions and these moments on the ice.”

The road to Pyeongchang as been in their sights for the past few years, and now they say they will have time to reflect and see how it will inspire them.

“We’ve worked for a very long time,” said Cizeron. “We’ve been skating together for 13 years. It’s not only for that moment, but it’s special to look back and see how all the work leads to where we are right now. It’s a really warm feeling.”

Shibutani and Shibutani, who stood in fourth after the Short Dance, skated with abandonment in their routine to “Paradise” by Coldplay, the third part of a trilogy in the story of their journey. The three-time World medalists showed strong level 4 circular and diagonal step sequences and were awarded many GOEs for their difficult lifts and synchronized twizzles. They scored a third-place finish in the free dance (114.86) and overall (192.59).

“It’s obviously a strong event,” said Maia Shibutani. “This was an incredible ice dance event, and to know we gave it our very best, means everything.”

“It feels like gold,” said Alex Shibutani of the bronze medal. “It’s unbelievable. I am so proud of the way we fought through this week and the season. We are so emotional.”

“I was really proud of how we skated today,” he continued. “We knew that regardless of what the result was going to be, we did everything that we could and have no regrets. We are really proud of each other and the result was amazing.”

The team acknowledged that the competition isn’t over until it’s over, however, they believed in themselves going into the Free Dance after a fourth-place Short Dance.

“We felt that our short dance was amazing,” said Alex Shibutani, “so there was no reason to be concerned about the score. We knew we had done the best we could have and we had been skating well the last two weeks.”

Hubbell and Donohue finished fifth (109.94) in the free dance and fourth overall (187.69) after their bluesy and sultry routine which was highlighted by difficult level 4 lifts and strong diagonal and serpentine steps. However, there was a loss of balance during a choreographic twizzle in which Donohue put his hand down and the element received no points and resulted in a one-point deduction.

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (OAR) were dedicated in their story-telling routine about a blind girl. The seven-time Russian champions impressed with a difficult level 4 lifts and strong level 4 diagonal steps. The skaters took a moment at the end to share an emotional hug which may represent the last time they compete together after 18 years. They finished fourth in the free skate (111.45) and fifth overall (186.92).

Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte finished sixth in the Free Dance (108.34) and overall (184.91). The 2014 World champions delivered an engaging routine to music from La Vita e Bella which featured a difficult stationary lift and strong level 4 twizzles, however, the team received a one-point deduction on an extended lift (straight line).

“It was obviously a big, big, big emotion because as of yesterday, we were one point off the podium,” said  Cappellini. “Even though we were in fifth place, we wanted to put our bid in for a medal. All day, we tried to stayed focused. We’re really proud of what we were able to do out there.”

“There was a deduction again, which we seem to be fond of these days,”she joked, “but I don’t think it would have mattered much today. We left our heart out there. We’re happy with what we did. Now to worlds (2018 World Figure Skating Championships, in March).”

“We don’t know, we don’t know,” added Lanotte of the deduction, “but as Anna said, it didn’t matter because even with that point, we didn’t have enough to stay in front of the Russians or the other teams. It’s fine.”

“I think we can be extremely proud,” said Cappellini of their third and final Olympics. “It’s been a long career. We’re very proud of our journey, our improvements, our achievements. Today it was proof of our ability to give emotion and handle pressure, which is extremely important for any athlete to perform on the right day.”

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada gave a poignant routine to “Je suis malade” which was highlighted by level 4 lifts and a strong diagonal step sequence, however, the team lost points on their twizzles which were graded a level 2. They finished seventh in the Free Dance (107.65) and overall (181.98) in their second outing at the Olympics.

“It’s just what we dream of, on competing and how you know you can and most importantly letting your soul out,” explained Weaver of her emotional reaction at the end of her routine. “That’s what we did today. No matter the number, the score, the levels, it’s about what we love to do with our hearts.”

Poje said they are taking the memories that they shared with their friends and families, as well as the moments on the ice, with them for their “Olympic memories.”

“Not just in the competition, but in the daily practices as well,” he said. “We really tried to take in all those moments and really enjoyed the entire experience.”

USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates were off to a strong start in their moving routine to “Imagine” which was highlighted by level 4 twizzles and lifts, however, both ice dancers when down on the entrance to their combination spin after their blades caught.

“No, not today,” said Chock when asked if her foot injury may have been a factor. “My foot’s been hurting, but I knew I’d be able to skate through it. The adrenaline would take me through. It would be fine.”

“It happened so quickly, honestly,” said Bates. “I don’t exactly know what happened. One second, we were skating fluidly and really well, and the next second, in a flash, I was scrambling to get to my feet. Those things can happen. Obviously, we wish we would have skated better. We were capable of doing so much more, but these things just happen sometimes.”

This fall resulted in zero points for the element as well as two-point deduction. They slipped from seventh to ninth overall (175.58).

“We were so close,” said Chock. “As soon as that happened, we knew there was no way. It was pretty hard, right away, to keep going. We owed it to ourselves and our choreographers and our team to keep going and put out the rest of the performance.”

“We’re pretty disappointed,” added Bates. “We know how critical it is to be mistake-free. It took us by surprise. It was really unfortunate.”

“I knew it was over,” said Chock. “I knew there was no shot. After working so hard all this season and going through so much and trying to stay healthy and then just losing it at a crucial moment, it was really, really heartbreaking.”

The team plans to re-collect themselves and continue to train for the upcoming World Championships next month.

Teammates Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished eighth overall (176.91) after their Free Dance to music from Octopussy which featured strong level 4 lifts and twizzles.

Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Fabbri Marco rounded out the top 10 ice dance teams at this event, followed by Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain.