There's a chance that Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will do the old retirement two-step when the 2010 world championships have ended.
In a conference call on Thursday, the London, Ont., dance team suggested that they could retire from competitive figure skating following the worlds at Palavela Arena in Turin, Italy, which begin on March 23,
When asked if they already had started thinking about new programs for next season, Moir suggested that staying in competitive skating is not a slam dunk at this point. Though they are still quite young -- Moir is 22 and Virtue 20 -- they have been skating together since 1997 without much of a break, other than the 2008-09 season, when they pulled out of the Grand Prix circuit after Virtue suffered an injury. Skating is a passion for the young team, but it's also a grind that involves intense training and travelling.
Many Olympic champions retire after winning gold at the Games, as there's very little left to accomplish, though Virtue and Moir have yet to win a world title.
"It's so hard to say," said Virtue, when asked about the retirement possibility. "Since we started skating together, we've taken it one year at a time. After (the 2006) Turin Olympics, we made the commitment to push on to Vancouver and the focus has been so intense on Vancouver and these world championships. So it's mentally hard to think much beyond that. I think we'll need some time.
"We're not in the right mental state to make decisions beyond this point. We need to let the dust settle," she added.
A win in Turin might make the decision to retire easier, as it would basically leave them with nothing left to accomplish at the competitive level.
There's also a chance that the ice dance team, who in Vancouver became the first North Americans to win the Olympic gold, and the youngest ice dance champions ever, could just take a year off from competing in the Grand Prix circuit. Skate Canada technical director Michael Slipchuk said yesterday that the they would likely have to make the decision whether to pull out of the 2010-11 Grand Prix circuit sometime next month.
In any event, the duo won't make a firm decision until after the worlds, and after it takes part in the 2010 Stars on Ice Tour. Virtue said they are scheduled to take part in seven shows in Japan in early April and then do the entire Canadian segment of the tour, which begins April 22 in Halifax. Other key dates on that tour include April 30 in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre, May 2 back home in London and May 14 in Vancouver, the scene of their Olympic triumph.
As for the worlds, Moir said he and Virtue are ready to make a run for their first gold at that event, after a week or so of decompressing following the Olympics. A number of the top ice dance teams, including 2010 Olympic bronze medallists Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia, as well as 2006 Olympic silver medallists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the U.S. have decided not to compete in Turin. But the Canadians still will have to get past their arch-rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who finished second in Vancouver.
"Some good ice dance teams have retired, sure," said Moir. "But we know our competition all year was Charlie and Meryl and we never really concerned ourselves about any of the other teams. They're still there, we're still here and it's going to be the same old song and dance for us."