Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir: two names that will forever be intertwined in the history of Olympic figure skating and Canadian athletics. Beyond just success in their sport, their legacy will be one of love and mutual respect. Their love for the sport of figure skating and a respect for each other that creates golden chemistry on the ice. Many wonder if this is the greatest Olympic love story ever told. It’s certainly proven to be one of the greatest Olympic figure skating stories ever told.
A Two-Decade Partnership
The first step in Virtue and Moir’s journey to the Olympic Podium began during the summer skate camps held at the Ilderton arena, near London, Ontario. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir officially began competing as partners in 1998, when they were still children. In January of 1999, they competed in the provincial finals and celebrated the first of what would be many victories together.
A Medal-Worthy Past
To say the duo of Virtue, 28, and Moir, 30, has been successful is an understatement. The pair tasted gold early in their careers, winning the National Junior Championships in 2004, and medalled with gold or silver the next two years at the World Juniors. In 2008, they took home the silver at the World Championships, and that same year won gold at the Four Continents Championships as well as at the Canadian Championships.
Between 2008 and 2017, Virtue and Moir dominated ice dancing, winning gold or silver at nearly every high-level competition along the way and paving their way to the Olympics.
They won gold at the Vancouver Games in 2010, becoming the first ice dancing pair to win the Olympic title on home ice, the first (and only) to win the gold medal in their debut at the Games, and the first former World Junior champions to win Olympic gold. At the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, they won two silver medals, and won two more gold medals in Pyeongchang, cementing them as the most decorated ice dancers in Olympic history.
Will They or Won’t They?
Tessa and Scott captured Canadians’ hearts back in 2010 as hometown heroes, and they did it through hard work, style, grace, and class. But it was the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang that made them international stars. As they delivered more compelling performances, their powerful chemistry caught the world’s attention.
After “melting the ice” with their torrid routines, social media users desperately wanted to know if the pair was dating, and social media was flooded with calls for them to declare their love. Viewers pored over videos and GIFs of their performances and even practices, their body language scrutinized down to the tiniest gesture or interaction. Even before they won gold, Virtue and Moir’s are-they-or-aren’t-they vibe was one of the top-trending stories in Pyeongchang. And while they remain coy to an extent, typically avoiding straight answers while referencing having “love for each other”, the Canadian duo insist their relationship is purely platonic. (Though they have acknowledged that they did briefly try dating – when Scott was 9 and Tessa was 7.)
Fairy Tale Olympics
The story may have started years ago at that Ilderton arena, but the fairy tale became the stuff of legend when Virtue and Moir were chosen to serve as Canada’s flag bearers at the opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang. They went on to win gold in both the free dance and short dance competitions.
Going into the ice dance competition, they knew they had a major rival in ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, who train with the same coaches as the Canadians. Unfazed, Virtue and Moir set a world record in the short program, and Papadakis and Cizeron in turn set a world record in the free dance. Virtue and Moir responded with a spectacular “Moulin Rouge” program, setting another world record with a combined score in the two programs of 206.07 points – and winning another gold medal.
Incredibly, at one point there was a question of whether Virtue and Moir would even be a part of the 2018 Olympics. It was during a car ride to visit China’s Great Wall that they made the decision to return to competition, making the official announcement in February of 2016.
With more than 20 years skating together, Virtue and Moir are the longest-standing ice dance team in Canadian history. Though the pair says no final decisions have been made, with five Olympic medals to their names – three of them gold – Pyeongchang is likely to be their finale, a golden end to one of the most spectacular careers in Olympic history.
But they do like to keep us guessing.
Peter Campbell | Contributing Writer