Figure Skating

Jon Massie - Monday Feb. 17, 2014 09:52 ET

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir win silver in ice dance

Meryl Davis, Charlie White dethrone 2010 Olympic champions

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finish their free dance

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir stand in the final pose of their free program at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. (Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)

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Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s Olympic reign is over.

The defending champions set a new free dance world record for their routine, but it was smashed only a few minutes later when Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. countered with a world record of their own to capture the gold medal.

Virtue and Moir took the silver.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia took the bronze.

The American pair scored a winning total of 116.63 for their free dance, while the judges awarded their Canadian competitors a score of 114.66. The Russians scored 110.44 for their routine.

Davis and White finished with an overall total of 195.52 for their short dance and free dance programs. Virtue and Moir’s performances added up to a score of 190.99, while Russia’s final tally stood at 183.48.

The American pair had finished ahead of Virtue and Moir in every head-to-head meeting on the international stage over the last two seasons, but Olympic gold loomed as the lone piece of hardware missing from Davis and Weir’s trophy case.

They had to look up from their second-place spot on the podium as Virtue and Moir collected their gold medals in Vancouver in 2010, but today the roles were reversed at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi. 

Almost too close to call

If Monday’s free skate was the Olympic curtain call for Virtue and Moir, they gave a fitting performance to remember them by. The decorated duo, skating to Russian classical music, displayed their customary grace and palpable sense of on-ice chemistry throughout their routine. They appeared to be completely in the moment and well aware of the fact that this would be their final spin around Olympic ice.

The Canadian figure skating icons then had to wait and hope for a mistake from the final skaters, Davis and White, who came into the free dance with a lead of 2.56 points.

However, there were no mishaps, as the Americans blazed around the ice with trademark speed and confidence during their Scheherazade program, completing an error-free performance and earning the first ever gold medal in ice dance for the U.S.

Davis also praised her partner for the last 17 years they've spent training together.

"I remember the early days, we were so young, but I still remember the first time I skated with Charlie. I got really lucky. I can't imagine being in any other place with any other person."

White was up front about how the pair have managed to stay unbeaten for so long.

"We've trained hard for the last four years. There's no trick to it. We have a great coach, Marina Zueva, who pushes all the right buttons and pushes the sport forward as well." 

Virtue, for her part, had no complaints about settling for second place.

"We would have liked to bring home gold for Canada, but no one close to us will love us any less because we're bringing home silver."

She also thanked everyone for the vocal support she received from across Canada. 

"We're so grateful for that support," she told CBC Sports. "I can't help but think of Jenn Heil (the freestyle moguls skier) after she raced in Vancouver. She said she didn't lose the gold, she won the silver, and that's how we feel." 

Moir also shared his thoughts on being on the podium a second time.

"It was a great feeling. Not our favourite place to stand, to be honest, but it was really fun out there. We wanted the gold, but at the same time, we're so thrilled to bring home a silver for Canada and to be on that podium."

 
Too big a hill to climb

Canada’s other medal hopefuls, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, scored 103.18 for their free dance to finish with a total of 169.11, good for seventh overall.

The youngest Canadian pair, featuring 22-year-old Alexandra Paul of Toronto and 24-year-old Mitchell Islam of Barrie, earned 82.79 for their free dance and an overall total of 138.70. They finished 18th.

An uncertain future

With the Olympic ice dance competition behind them, Virtue and Moir may finally reveal more about their plans for the future. There has been speculation that this could be their final international competition, as they haven’t committed to any other events for the rest of the season.

If today’s free skate is indeed the swan song for the Canadian figure skating superstars, it will mark the end of two of the greatest ice dancing careers of all time.

In addition to their two Olympic medals, Virtue and Moir’s resume includes two World Championship titles, two Four Continents titles, four Grand Prix Finals silver medals and six Canadian titles.

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