Canada's sweethearts undecided on competitive future
By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/18/2010) - About halfway through their conference call with reporters Thursday, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir dropped a bombshell.Training is going well; the Olympic ice dance champions are motivated to win their first world title in Torino next week. Practicing alongside Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White is, as always, helping to push them to the next level.
And no, they're not sure about whether or not they will continue to compete next season.
"It's so hard to say," Virtue, 20, said. "Ever since we started skating together, it's always been [taking] one year at a time . . . We made the commitment to focus on Vancouver [Olympics]. Mentally, it's hard to think beyond that. I think we will need some time.
"We're certainly not in the right mental state right now to decide . . . we haven't talked about it between the two of us. It's not a focus, it's not something at the front of our minds right now."
"There's a lot more of life to experience, as well," Moir, 22, added. "Who knows?"
The three-time Canadian champions, now the first-ever North American ice dance team to win Olympic gold, have a few months to decide whether they will compete in two Grand Prix events this fall, although their skating federation could still reserve a spot for them at Skate Canada.
"Mid-late May, that's when we have to submit [Grand Prix entries] to the ISU," said Michael Slipchuk, Skate Canada's director of high performance.
Asked whether the team might consider skipping the fall season and go straight to the Canadian Championships in January, Virtue hedged.
"It's always an option, to skip the Grand Prix, but we really haven't thought about it," she said. "If we're going to compete next year, I can't imagine not doing the fall [competitions]. As we've seen, they really set you up for the year. . . Certainly, we're not making any commitments."
Of course, there's still a world title to be won, the only medal missing from their collection. They took silver in 2008 and bronze last season. The two teams who defeated Virtue and Moir at 2009 worlds, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, opted out of Torino. But that makes little difference, said Moir.
Our competition all year long has been Charlie and Meryl. We were never concerned about anyone else. They're still here, we're still here. It's going to be the same song and dance.
"Life goes on, your skating career goes on, and it's on to the next goal. We know [Torino] is not going to be like Vancouver, we're not going to have 10,000 people clapping along to our Golden Waltz [compulsory dance] the way we did to our Tango Romantica."
A few days after Vancouver's closing ceremonies, the skaters returned to their training base in Canton, Mich., where they share coaches -- Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva -- with Davis and White. At first, they
admitted, it was tough to get back to the grind; after a week or so, though, things were back to normal.
"We've had two more weeks training, when you look at it," Moir said. "The first few days, we were just trying to feel human again. . . but we know, training with Charlie and Meryl, we always have to bring our A-games. We took it up a notch."
After worlds, there are seven shows in Japan, and then it's on to the Canadian tour of Stars on Ice, where the team plans to reprise a modified version of the Olympic free dance to "Mahler's Symphony no. 5."
"We definitely see [the tour] as a way of celebrating," Moir said. "It's a way for us to skate for our fans, all across Canada. It's a whole new world for us; we're going to find out what the touring world is all about." After that, as they said, who know?
"Our plan [after] is to take a couple of weeks off; it would be nice to take off to the beach," Virtue said. "We'll need some down time, some rest time away from the ice."
We don't know what the future is going to hold," Moir said. "We have to sit down and talk about it when we're on tour."