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Skate Today

Virtue and Moir Skate to Record Breaking Gold

As expected hometown heroes Tessa Virtue, 21, and Scott Moir, 23, stood on top of the leader board after a gripping performance to “Symphony No. 5” by Gustav Mahler which left the audience at John Labatt Centre in London standing on its feet.

The Canton based skaters who train under the tutelage of Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, wowed the crowd with their fancy footwork and explosive lifts to capture their third consecutive Canadian Crown and secure a spot at upcoming Olympic Games in February – and did so in record-breaking style with a free dance worth 221.95 points.

“Vancouver will be the place to be and Tessa and I are really going to go for it,” Moir told the press. “We have been training really well, and we expect to be in top form. Four years ago we let the opportunity slip away from us, and I think that is what has motivated us this time around.”

“We are right where we want to be and our training is right on track,” Virtue added. “We have some room for improvement. Now we want to work on the performance. Making everything just a bit crisper,” she added.

The reigning World bronze medalists opened their program with a level four curve lift which moved nicely into the rotational lift that followed. They performed a combinations spin, synchronized twizzles and two risky lifts, all which were awarded a level four from the technical panel.

The straight-line lift – which has been coined “the Goose” has Virtue balancing on one skate on the small of his Moir’s back is awe-inspiring. However, the “Goose” may be cooked as the dismount has received much attention and the legality of the loop Virtue executes off Moir’s back questioned. To date, they have not received any deductions for the dismount, but have decided not to tempt fate.

“It’s just not worth the risk to find out in Vancouver that what we have been doing all season is illegal,” Moir stated.

Virtue now swings around Moir in the dismount and is caught in his arms. It is a blind entry.

“It’s more fun and I think more exciting,” she told the press. “I can’t see where I am going, but that’s the fun of it, I know he is going to be there to catch me.”

Virtue and Moir earned no less than +2 GOE (Grade of Execution) for any of their elements. The edge quality of their footwork was outstanding and their flow on the ice superb. The performance, the choreography and the interpretation was first – rate earning the Canadians component scores in the nine’s.

The three-time Canadian Champions exceeded their previous personal best score of 105.28 points, earning 107.82 points for their free dance and an overall score of 221.95 points.

“There was a lot of energy in the arena, and we were really trying to feed off that,” Moir said of skating at home. “It added a little bit of pressure for us today. We really wanted to go out there and give them something to stand up for.”

“I think we’re a strong skating nation, so even if we’re young I think we’re very competitive,” added Moir. “Our hearts go out for Andrew (Poje) and Kaitlyn (Weaver) (who missed the Olympic Team by less than a point), we were there four years ago, and we know how it feels. We believe it made us stronger skaters, and we wish the best for them.”

Vanessa Crone, 19, and Paul Poirier, 18, clung to the second spot by a mere 0.30 points after Crone had an uncharacteristic fall on their synchronized twizzle sequence, which nearly cost the youngsters who train at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club in Ontario. The duo sat crushed in the kiss and cry waiting for their marks believing their Olympic journey was over.

“Paul and I locked ourselves in a room in back…. We really thought we had given it away,” Crone told the press wiping tears from her eyes. “We didn’t know until our training mates (Kharis Ralph and Ashier Hill) came in and starting jumping on us. I was stunned.”

Despite the mistake Crone and Poirier received a personal best score of 89.93 points for their free dance and pulled up to second and capture their second consecutive silver medal with an overall score of 184.70 points . Skating as seniors for only the second competitive season Crone and Poirier have been on the fast-track to success.

Fall aside Crone and Poirier were seamless and delivered a sophisticated routine with complex choreography earning them high grades of execution from the judging panel. That and a slight misstep on the footwork sequence earned them a nod for the 2010 Olympic Team.

“Even if we didn’t get the spot, overall, we managed to achieve what we came to do,” Crone said. “And we were able to get the reaction from the crowd we were looking for. Our main goal was to get our presentation marks up. Since the Grand Prix Final, we have worked on bringing up the performance and make a connection with the audience….And that’s what we did tonight.”

“Of course we are thrilled to get the spot,” Poiriier said with excitement. “It just hasn’t sunk in yet.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ontario looked stunned when the scores came up, and they had dropped to third place and missed an Olympic Berth by a mere 0.30 points. Their free dance to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” was elegant, polished and skated very well. Their only error was a slight misstep by Poje on the footwork.

The audience at John Labatt seemed confused by the result.

2008 Junior Champions Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill finished a distant fourth with 170.84 points and 2008 Canadian bronze medalists Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno finished fifth with 168.31 points.

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