Articles by Robin Ritoss, Event Coverage

Can it be a Golden Waltz for Virtue and Moir?

2010 Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir continued their edge over training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White in the compulsory dance section of the World Championships.  The final event of the season is being held this week at the Palavela in Torino, Italy. The Palavela is most notably known as the Olympic Figure Skating venue of the 2006 Olympic Games which were held here four years ago. Neither of the two teams participated at those games and neither of them have won a World title. With the World title on the line, both duos have shown up with their A game faces on.

Home country heroes Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali who placed 13th here in Torino in 2006 brought the loudest ovation after placing third with 40.85 points. It is a virtual tie for the next three spots with Grand Prix bronze medalists Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat in fourth with 37.75 points, European Champions Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski are fifth with 37.70 points and seven-time British Champions Sinead Kerr and John Kerr are sixth with 37.56 points.

“We’ve never gotten a World title, (and) it’s something we’ve been planning on, so it’s not difficult,” Virtue told the World media of their motivation here after winning Olympic Gold in Vancouver last month. We’ve expected it to be a huge crash after the Olympics, but we’ve done two weeks of great training after that, and it’s not hard to stay motivated when you’re training with Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White).”

Virtue and Moir were the first on the ice of the top teams and were smooth as silk during their Golden Waltz. Their blades quietly glided them into first place with an overall score of 44.13 points. Their timing and expression were impeccable. They outscored the Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White by 0.88 points. While both teams are best buddies off the ice, a friendly rivalry on the ice ensues from competition to competition. So far, this season Davis and White commanded the top spot at the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo and Virtue and Moir brought the house down with a home country gold medal in Vancouver.

Their fate here in Turin has yet to be determined as 0.88 points can easily be made up Thursday with the original dance. The Americans will showcase an unusual and creative Indian folk dance and the Canadians a hot and sassy Flamenco.

“We are excited to be at another World Championship.  It’s (such) a huge competition,” Moir said energized. “It was great for us to get back on the ice and push ourselves just a bit further. We have come a long way in two weeks, so we’re excited to show that (here in Torino).”

Meryl Davis and Charlie White also delivered an exquisite Golden Waltz sailing through each pattern with elegance and ease. Their first and third segment of their second pattern was especially well-done earning GOE’s (Grades of Execution) as high as +3 for those segments. Their precise steps and well-matched leg lines kept them in good stead with the judging panel.

“It was a really confident performance for us,” Davis commented. “ Before we went out, Marina (Zueva) and Igor (Shpilband) (told ) us, we’re really well trained on this dance, so (we wanted to) just go out and enjoy performing it and that was what we were trying to do.”

“It is a really different way (of) coming into this competition for us,” Davis added about competing here after their performance at the Olympic Winter Games. “With all the excitement from the previous competition it’s been a little bit more challenging (for us) to focus on Worlds. But we’ve known we were coming to Worlds all season, so we are prepared for this.”

The duo exuded confidence and seemed to gain power and speed as the dance progressed through each segment. It seemed like it was over in an instance.

“We’ve put a lot of work into our compulsories this year to really step it up,” White added. “Conceivably this will be the last year of compulsories, so we really wanted to make it count and that definitely showed (for us) tonight (The compulsory dances may be eliminated by the governing body after this season).”

The fans went wild as two-time (2009, 2010) European silver medalists Federica Scali and Massimo Scali stepped on the ice for their Golden Waltz. Skating last the seven-time Italian Champions highlighted their dance with strong interpretation skills and long flowing movements.

“We felt even more pressure, because probably it is the last compulsory dance in the history of international events, but we did a good job and doing that in Italy is fantastic,” Scali told the press. “We are in good condition, and we enjoyed every step on the ice as it should be when you dance. It is important to have a strong beginning and third place with a personal best (score) is a perfect start.”

“The public helps you a lot in this situation,” Faiella added about the home country advantage. “It supports you, and makes you feel more confident. We danced very well today, now we have to keep our concentration and stay relaxed.”

Youngsters Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier were charming in their rendition of the Golden Waltz that earned the duo 33.22 points landing them in ninth place and 0.61 points ahead of their closest rival’s American Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates who currently are in tenth place with 32.61 points.

“We are very happy for making a season best (score). It’s amazing to do a compulsory dance, we really enjoyed it and so we hope the compulsory (dance) will remain,” Poirier said.

2009 American silver medalists Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates remained upbeat on their performance.

“This is a seasons’ best score, so we are very happy,” Bates stated of their performance. “This is our second World Championship, and after coming eleventh at the Olympic Games, this is just the beginning, and we hope to do better in the future. This is our first time in Torino, and I am very excited because I love Italian culture, and I have also studied Italian,” he added.

Last minute replacements for Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, Americans Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre are in fourteenth place with 31.36 points.

The dance event continues Thursday with the skating of the original dance. This year’s theme is the folk dance.

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