Figure Skating

The Canadian Press - Friday Jan. 10, 2014 19:00 ET

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir win short dance at Canadian nationals

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje finished 2nd

Tessa Virtue
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir during the short dance at the National Skating Championships in Ottawa on Friday, January 10, 2014. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

If competing under the pressure of their final pre-Olympic performance was the perfect test for Sochi, Scott Moir gave a failing grade Friday.

"We didn't perform under that pressure as well as we'd like to," Moir said.

Moir and partner Tessa Virtue won the short dance at the Canadian figure skating championships, but the defending Olympic champions weren't thrilled with their performance, admitting to considerable pressure competing in front of a Canadian crowd for what will likely be the last time.

And less than a month out from the Games, nothing short of perfect is good enough.

"We've been training and practising kind of lights-out and Tessa and I, we're really perfectionists and it felt like we had a couple moments today that just weren't the way we'd been training," Moir said. "That's probably the emotion you see on our faces."

Three-time world champion Patrick Chan easily won the men's short program, but it wasn't the flawless skate he had hoped for heading into Sochi. The 23-year-old from Toronto opened with a huge quadruple toe-triple toe combination, but then doubled a planned triple Axel, and doubled a triple Lutz for a score of 89.12.

Liam Firus of North Vancouver, B.C., was second with 78.93, while Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., scored 78.29 for third.

Earlier in the day, Kaetlyn Osmond won the women's singles short program, putting four frustrating months of injury problems behind her.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pairs short in a tight battle with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch. The two pairs teams earned the only standing ovations of the night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Virtue and Moir earned 76.16 points for their jazz-infused skate to music by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, but lost marks for holding a rotational lift for too long. In the lift in question, Virtue lies on her back across a spinning Moir's shoulders.

There were a few other small missteps as well.

"Just technical things," Moir explained. "I felt like I was a battling a little with my knees today, wasn't quite under the ice. . . maybe I was watching world junior (hockey) highlights or something."

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., were second with 72.68, while Alexandra Paul of Toronto and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., were third with 67.67.

Canada, which will name its Olympic team Sunday, has three ice dancing berths at the Sochi Games.

Virtue admitted the two are being tougher on themselves with the Games so close.

"I'm sure a lot of people around will think 'Oh don't be so negative,"' Virtue said. "There are a lot of positives to take from (the program). It's just the place we are in our season, it's all about process, it's all about trying to achieve the highest quality of performance possible, so we're always trying to get that."

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., have been living and training in a bubble of sorts the past few weeks in Canton, Mich., making a strategic decision to block out almost everything Olympic-related. They used the same approach leading into the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"It's nice when we're in the States because we don't see anything, about anything Canadian," Virtue said.

They're not even watching their own show — the W Network's "Tessa & Scott" — which is two episodes into the seven-episode series.

"It's just too much us," Moir said.

"It's so close to the Games, we sort of lived it already, we don't want to go back and feel the things we were feeling in August and September, especially just a few weeks short of the Olympics," Virtue added. "We're in such a great place now. . . it's better for us to block everything out and focus on every day."

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