SAINT JOHN, N.B. – It was emotional for sure. With their elegant routine to concertos by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov (with a little help from Alexander Scriabin), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir wrapped up their fifth Skate Canada title in their storied career.
They brought an audience to its feet in the Harbour Station arena, as they played out the story of their lives, from carefree youngsters, to people overcoming tragedy, all centred on the bond between them.
Virtue and Moir, the 2010 Olympic champions, plunked down a final score of 181.03, not their personal highest, but that mark of 185.04 came at the world championships last March in London, Ont., when they took the silver medal – at the end of the season. There is still room to grow.
Virtue and Moir finished 5.80 points ahead of emerging stars Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who skated a fiery tango and earned the silver medal – and another standing ovation – with 175.23 points. Third and winning their first Grand Prix medal was American team Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue with 153.20 points.
Hubbell came to Skate Canada exhausted at her second competition in a week and dealing with aches and pains, including a hip and a history of a concussion. The final straw hit at a practice Saturday morning when Donohue accidently elbowed her in the head. She cried a river. And she learned one thing: that she could continue despite all the disadvantages.
Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam pulled from seventh to four in the free skate with a fast-moving but elegant free dance that helped them move into fifth place overall.
Virtue and Moir’s piece is reminiscent of their Olympic Mahler routine in a way – it has the same elegance of line and movement – but the twosome wanted to show something different. Their skating has changed. So has ice dancing in the past four years. It’s a new statement and one that is personal to them.
And some would say it’s an unusual choice, using Russian music that has not been heard in ice dancing before. It’s a continuation of their risk-taking in musical choices.
“Winning the Olympics is our main goal,” Moir said. “We don’t want to use music that others have used. We don’t want to be compared to anyone else. We want to create something that is special.”
“We have always been like that. Even when we picked Carmen, we’re trying to do something different than what the skating world is used to. We’re trying to win the Olympics, but we’re not willing to sell out ourselves.”
Weaver and Poje took a long time to choose their tango music until finally Shae-Lynn Bourne gently pushed them to take a soundtrack from an operetta she had found. “Shae-Lynn always has our best interests at heart,” Weaver said. Tango had been on their wish lists for a couple of years.
“We wanted to make sure that if we did a tango, it wasn’t your usual tango, because a lot of it has been overdone,” Poje said “We wanted to bring a little more lyrical side to it and show more of the story between a man and a woman.”