Slip up

Ryan Pyette

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

KITCHENER -- Canada isn't getting its first world junior gold medal in ice dance from Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue this year.

But make no mistake -- there are truckloads of gold medals in store for these young stars.

A slip by Moir on some innocent-looking footwork was the lone flaw in an otherwise sterling free dance, but it still cemented a silver behind Americans Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin last night in the world junior figure skating championships at Kitchener's Memorial Auditorium.

"It was one little wobble. We weren't exactly together and I almost fell to the ice," a disappointed Moir said.

"We weren't thinking about how many points we were behind Maxim and Morgan. We just went out and skated the best way we could.

"I thought it was a good performance."

After the skate, coach Igor Shpilband patted a disappointed Moir on the neck as a sign of reassurance. To add insult to injury, Moir missed the post-event news conference because he was selected for a random doping test.

"(Igor) just said this wasn't going to be the highlight of our career," said the 17-year-old from Ilderton.

Still, the second world junior silver medal in 30 years by Canadian ice dancers isn't anything to hang their heads over. The only other silver was earned by Kelly Johnson and Kris Barber in 1978 at Megeve, France.

Moir and Virtue also supplemented some of their pricey skating bills, winning $12,375 US in cash for the runner-up finish.

"It's awesome to represent Canada and to think that we'll be part of that history," said Virtue, a 15-year-old Londoner. "It was a wonderful event and the crowd really got behind us."

The silver matches the colour earned by Shpilband, who finished second with Soviet partner Tatiana Gladkova in 1982 at Oberstdorf, Germany.

"I didn't know that," said Virtue. "I'll have to ask him about that."

Clearly, there's more international medals in store. Other than the slip, Moir and Virtue captivated the crowd and earned 88.18 points for a stunning free dance. They finished the competition with 183.42 points and posted personal bests in all three segments (compulsory, original and free dance).

The 20-year-old Zavozin, a transplanted Russian, and Matthews, a 17-year-old Chicago native ended their junior careers with their coveted world title. They won the free dance portion with 88.73 points and chalked up 187.51 total.

"It was the best we performed that free dance all year and it couldn't have come at a better time -- in the final competition of the year and our last junior competition ever," Matthews said.

Moir and Virtue, who finished fourth at Canadian senior nationals at home in London in January, said it was a pleasure just to compete this week at their second hometown. They trained and lived in Waterloo for seven years before moving to Detroit last year.

"It's a learning experience for us and we just tried to take it all in," Virtue said. "Our elements have really improved over the last year and it's nice to see that hard work pay off."

The sport of ice dance may be changing after being dominated by Russia and the former Soviet Union, which had won 23 of the past 28 titles.

This time, it was the Americans, the Canadians and then Russians Anastasia Gorshkova and Ilia Tkachenko in third.

Historically, Canada also has six world junior bronze medals in the ice dance discipline, including the third-place finish by Catherine Pal and Donald Godfrey at the Aud in 1987.

But the biggest names among Canada's world junior dance medallists -- Rob McCall (with Marie MacNeil) in 1977 and Marie-France Dubreuil (with Bruno Yvars) in 1990 went on to greater achievements with other partners.

The late McCall won Olympic bronze with Tracy Wilson at Calgary in 1988 while Dubreuil is part of Canada's current top ice dance team with Patrice Lauzon.

Dubreuil and Lauzon, who won gold at the Canadian senior championships in London in January, announced then they were considering retirement after next year's Olympics in Torino, Italy. At the time, they indicated the future of ice dance in the country was in good hands.

They were thinking of Moir and Virtue when they made that statement.


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