Virtue, Moir win ice dance gold for Canada
• Photo gallery: Winter Olympics Monday Feb. 22
By Nancy Armour
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — all of Canada, even — might be celebrating this gold medal until the next Olympics.
They have a lot of catching up to do.
It's not often the Russians get knocked off their traditional spot atop the ice dance podium.
Virtue and Moir won last 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, were fourth.
"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 medal.
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.
"Right now, Vancouver is our favorite place to be," Virtue said. "It's been the perfect games."
Virtue's 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.
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.
Their only flaw was a deduction, likely for an extended lift. But it wouldn't have made a difference in the final results.