Olympics / Winter Olympics / Figure skating

Canadians Virtue, Moir back on top after eight years

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir put on a dazzling show to win the gold medal in ice dance on Tuesday afternoon at Gangneung Ice Arena.

The duo skated to “Moulin Rouge” in their free dance and earned a world record total score of 206.07 points to capture the second Olympic gold medal of their career. They were the champions at the 2010 Vancouver Games and the silver medalists four years ago in Sochi.

Virtue and Moir edged out training partners Gabrielle Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France by less than one point for the victory.

The Canadians, who led by less than two points after the short dance, showed their mettle at the most crucial moment. They were both technically sound and artistically excellent when it mattered most.

The French silver medalists had earlier broken their own free skate world record with 123.35, and racked up 205.28 in their routine to “Piano Sonata” and “Moonlight Sonata,” but it wasn’t enough to top the podium.

The crowd was awed by the flair and passion Papadakis and Cizeron exhibited and showed its appreciation when they completed their routine. They settled for the silver despite winning the free skate.

Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani earned the bronze on 192.59. It was the first Olympic medal for the Japanese-Americans from the East Coast.

Moir and Virtue are three-time world champions and took the 2014-15 season off after taking the silver in Sochi.

Virtue was ecstatic following the triumph.

“I am thrilled with this competition,” Virtue stated. “That performance was really special and truly memorable. The gold medal is the cherry on the cake.”

Moir said there was a different feel to their second gold medal.

“Extremely different this time,” Moir commented. “Obviously, in 2010 we were in our own country. Those are moments we will never forget. But eight years later we’re completely different people, we’re completely different athletes.”

Papadakis and Cizeron came about as close as possible to winning the gold, but were philosophical afterward.

“We wanted it (the gold). But we did our best and we have nothing to regret,” Papadakis said. “There are a lot of emotions coming out right now. It was amazing to deliver what we did today at our first Olympics.”

Cizeron believed that relaying their feelings was vital in their free skate.

“We had nothing to lose,” Cizeron claimed. “We just focused on staying in our bubble and delivering the most emotions we could, the more love we could.”

The Shibutanis put on an energetic performance to Coldplay’s “Paradise” that had the crowd cheering throughout. They were intense from start to finish. Their synchronized twizzles were one of the high points of their program.

“It feels like gold,” Alex Shibutani said. “It’s unbelievable. I am so proud of the way we fought through this week and the season. We are so emotional.”

Alex Shibutani said he and his younger sister went all out and wanted to be satisfied that they had done their very best.

“I was really proud of how we skated today,” he stated. “We knew that regardless of what the result was going to be we did everything that we could and have no regrets.”

Maia Shibutani echoed her brother’s statement.

“This was an incredible ice dance event,” she said, “and to know we gave it our very best means everything.”

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (187.69) of the United States came in fourth.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (186.92) finished fifth.

They OAR tandem was sublime in their routine to “Oblivion” and “Beethoven’s Five Secrets” Their straight line and rotational lifts were stunning.

Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed (160.63) ended up in 15th place.

Muramoto and Reed skated to “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” and put forth an enthusiastic effort. Their only miscue was on the circular step sequence.

Muramoto and Reed came in 13th in the free skate with a mark of 97.22. They were 15th in the short dance.

“Our performance was there today besides a mistake in the circle,” Reed said. “We worked for a week here on our elements and felt it improved our consistency. We want to keep improving as our career goes on.”

Muramoto said she was calmer in the free dance.

“We felt great today. I was a bit nervous in the short dance,” Muramoto stated. “We are really happy because this free dance is special for us.”

Reed felt the audience had an impact on their performance.

“The crowd was good today,” Reed mentioned. “They were loud and cheerful. That was really nice.”

Muramoto said she and Reed didn’t have a numerical target in mind coming into the Olympics, but are looking to climb up in the world rankings.

“The top 10 is our ultimate goal,” Muramoto commented. “We want to show what we can do.”

When asked about what is necessary to make that step up, Reed cited an important fact.

“The top teams, like Tessa and Scott, have been together for a long time,” Reed said. “We need more time. There is a lot more we can do to improve our skating skills.”

Muramoto discussed the next challenge up for the duo.

“We are excited about the worlds next month in Milan,” Muramoto noted. “We think we can do a better short dance there.”