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    Pj Kwong

    About Pj Kwong

    With more than 25 years of coaching experience, Pj Kwong is one of Canada's best known figure skating experts. She has worked with CBC Sports as a commentator and analyst since 2007.

Figure Skating

Pj Kwong - Tuesday Feb. 18, 2014 11:16

Attacks against Meryl Davis, Charlie White show lack of respect

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir's ice dance legacy will endure despite silver

Charlie White hugs Tessa Virtue, left, while Meryl Davis hugs Scott Moir after their free dance program at the Sochi Olympics
U.S. ice dancer Charlie White hugs Canada's Tessa Virtue, left, while his partner Meryl Davis hugs Virtue's partner Scott Moir, before White and Davis are announced Monday as winners of the ice dance event at the Sochi Olympics. (David Gray/Reuters)

Ice dance has a way of transporting people to another place when it is done well.

All three ice dance teams on the podium achieved this last night but I have to mention one other team: Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. They transported me to the streets of Buenos Aires with their outstanding Tango, demonstrating perfectly the marriage between art and sport in a free dance.

Last night there were others who achieved the same thing and although I am not happy with the results, I have my own way of framing them.

I am aware of the huge outcry that the event must somehow have been fixed and that coach Marina Zueva shouldn’t have had more than one team between Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Meryl Davis and Charlie White. I feel the need to toss in my two cents.

First of all: coaches all over the world have more than one student at a time. It’s called making a living.

The other little item that needs clarification is that the coach is chosen by the student and not the other way around. In other words, if Tessa and Scott weren’t entirely satisfied with their coaching arrangement, they had other places they could go. I believe in Virtue and Moir’s ability to choose and their acumen in knowing what’s good for them.

In figure skating the athletes come to be known for a certain kind of style, which becomes important when the technical aspects between them are often too close to call. This is very much the case for these two teams.

Virtue and Moir’s free dance choice was a little risky this year, just as much as Carmen was last year. Both required that the judges would have to really think about the programs and stretch themselves to truly appreciate the artistry. Not all judges are that artisitically savvy. I know lots of judges and although the majority stay up to date with trends in dance, art and theatre, there are still some who don’t.

I don’t know all of the judges from the panel but I believe that this could have been an important consideration in evaluating Virtue and Moir’s Glaznov program. The music was glorious and the performance ethereal but it may have lacked an understandable hook. Although it’s my cup of tea in a great big old mug, it wouldn’t be everybody’s.

On the other hand, Scheherezade is what I like to call a gimme. Meryl Davis and Charlie White used it to full advantage. The music is sensational, which is why we hear it so often in skating, and the story can be laid out perfectly on the ice. There isn’t anything to think about. In many ways it is the perfect vehicle and when you put Scheherezade against the backdrop of sensational skating — and the Americans do have sensational skating — then you are hedging your bets.

In my mind, I would have put Virtue and Moir first with Davis and White a close second in this event, but that is a personal preference.

What I struggle with are the attacks against Davis and White’s win and the lack of respect for the amount of work it has taken them to get to this point. They are the Olympic champions and have a long list of accomplishments including two world titles and the Olympic silver from 2010. I would hate to become Olympic champion and always wonder whether or not people thought it was legit.

For Virtue and Moir, like Torvill and Dean before them in Sarajevo, winning the Olympic title in the way they did in 2010 has become one of those “I knew where I was when…” moments. Their legacy will endure when others are long forgotten.

Winning the Olympic silver medal is no small feat. The Olympic moments that Virtue and Moir created for those of us watching ice dance in 2014 have already overridden the result.

In the final analysis, it isn’t the Olympic result but rather the skaters and what they bring to the sport that we remember.

Congratulations Tessa and Scott! I am thrilled to have watched you in Sochi; you did yourselves, your family and friends, and your country proud.

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