Virtue, Moir hold fourth spot

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue simply wanted to prove they belong on the John Labatt Centre ice with the other senior dance stars at this week's Canadian figure skating championships.

They're doing better than that -- London's Virtue and Ilderton's Moir are fourth after yesterday's compulsory dance, which was the first of three stages in the event. The original dance takes place tomorrow afternoon with the pivotal free dance Sunday afternoon.

As expected, defending champs Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon are in top spot with 40.96 points while Vancouver veterans Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe are second at 38.31. Moir and Virtue have 32.35 points, not far behind third-place Chantal Lefebvre and Arseniy Markov's 37.02.

"We were happy with the skate, it was a good start," the 15-year-old Virtue said. "The support from the crowd is amazing. It feels like everyone is behind us and we're trying to use that to our advantage."

Moir and Virtue are no strangers to skating on the JLC ice, but this was the first time they had the pressure of competing in the senior division of the national championships.

"It was exciting, sure you can draw from the crowd," the 17-year-old Moir said.

"Right now, we feel like we're heading in the right direction."

TV skating analyst and former ice dance star Tracy Wilson, an Olympic bronze medallist with the late Rob McCall in Calgary in 1988, said a medal for the Virtue-Moir team isn't out of the question.

"Not for them, it isn't," Wilson said. "They've shown tremendous improvement over the last year and that's what it takes in this sport. If you stand still, you're done."

The duo was 11th at the 2004 junior worlds early in the year but went on to finish second at the Junior Grand Prix final last month.

Only a scandal will stop them from being named to the Canadian team for junior worlds in Kitchener Feb. 28-March 6.

"They have that crowd appeal, which shows a sensitivity to the music," Wilson said.

"It's like singing. You either have that voice or you don't."

Virtue and Moir recently moved their training camp from Waterloo to Detroit, where they work with the highly touted Igor Shpilband. Lowe and Wing also train at the same facility.

They've had a rough time enrolling in high school there so they're currently taking on-line courses through the school board.

"It's been an incredible experience training there," Scott said.

"With Aaron and Megan there, they're great people. It's a great atmosphere."


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