A Kiss is Just a Kiss
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were so closely locked in an ice dance embrace at a practice earlier this season, their lips accidentally touched.
The newly minted Olympic and world champions laugh off the inadvertent kiss — the first in their 13 years together — as an occupational hazard.
“It was so funny, we went to do the move the next time and she couldn't look at me,” Moir said laughing. “I'm like, what the hell? You can't look at me? It was an accident.”
“I can't believe that was the first time in 13 years,” Virtue giggled.
Much has been made of their relationship since the two captured the country's imagination at the Vancouver Games, becoming Canada's first Olympic ice dance gold medalists. They followed up their breathtaking performance in Vancouver with their first world championship title this week, delighting the fans with their sublime skating and undeniable chemistry.
A day after Canada's favourite couple — that is actually not really a couple — captured gold at the Palavela ice rink, Virtue and Moir talked about not-so-gentle nudges they've received in messages from fans since Vancouver.
“The best thing that we get is the people saying, 'Just give in and date' and 'You're in love, and we can see it, so quit fooling yourselves.' Those are the funniest ones,” Moir said.
Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., have been partners for 13 years. Two halves of a whole since she was just seven and he was nine, the two say it will feel “really odd” when they finally go their separate ways. They had a taste of the single life last season when Virtue spent two months in London recovering from surgery, and Moir remained at their training base in Canton, Mich.
“The weirdest,” Moir said of those two solitary months.
“And then coming back on the ice we were out of the rhythm of working together, so it will certainly be a transition period,” Virtue added. “We always joke that when we're really old, we'll be taking ballroom together. So we'll still be hanging out, I can't imagine not being in each other's lives in some way.”
The two joked about making a date to skate together once a week.
“We'll just say ‘okay, OD (original dance) from 2005,' and we'll just skate that and have some fun,” Moir said.
The 20-year-old Virtue and Moir, 22, find it difficult to describe their relationship, but call themselves both business partners and great friends.
“It's really original and it can't even be explained,” Moir said.
They did actually date briefly in their first year together — if that can actually be called “dating” at that age. The whirlwind romance ended badly with a phone call from Moir.
“He said, 'I don't want to go out with you any more,' ” Virtue said, holding a hand to her ear like a phone. “And he hung up the phone.”
“I think she's still kind of heartbroken from that phone call hang up,” Moir laughed.
The fact Virtue and Moir have stayed together so long is remarkable in a sport where skaters often swap partners several times in a career. They've formed a bond through their longevity that shows in their skating, so closely in synch that it's not easy to discern, it seems, where one graceful sweep of the hand ends, and the other begins.
Unknown to the average onlooker, the two say there's a lot of improvisation that goes on when they're gliding around the ice.
“Oh god yeah, that's the fun,” Moir said. “We can talk and you can't see me, I'm very good at that. We're actually talking most of the way through the program, just little key words. Tessa loves to talk, I don't even know how she breathes sometimes.
“We are very focused on what we're doing and we love to skate with each other, so that part comes pretty naturally in communicating with each other. And after 13 years, we know exactly what the other person is thinking and what they're trying to say by not saying anything, or a look.
“Like, I can see in her eyes right now I'm rambling. . .” he said, trailing off.
While there had been murmurs the world championships could be their last competition, the two now say they're excited about where they can take the sport.
Virtue and Moir and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White were head-and-shoulders better than the rest of the field in Vancouver and Turin, their innovative and tricky lifts different from anything anybody else even attempts. The four train together in Michigan, sharing coaches Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband.
After spending four years developing their programs for the Vancouver Olympics, Moir says the two view the future as a “clean slate.”
“I think this could be a real turning point for Tessa and I,” he said. “We've had a great year, but I think there's a lot stones that are unturned still, and we're hoping that there's some avenues that we want to go down.”
Moir said they'd love to bring more dance to the ice — Virtue is trained in ballet and contemporary dance, while Moir takes ballet and hip-hop lessons. They skated last season to Pink Floyd, an avant-garde program that never reached its full potential in a season shortened by Virtue's leg surgery.
“We have so much that we can experiment with right now. We love to do the tricks and tying them into the program and making it genuine will always be a goal of ours,” Moir said. “Hopefully with the rules that are coming into play (the International Skating Union will look at new rules for ice dance at its congress in June that they won't crack down on us too much and we'll still be able to do the cool moves.
“I think we're in a great position now,” Virtue added, “to try new things.”