Virtue headlines 'Stars on Ice'

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir with their gold medals at the Skate Canada International...

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir with their gold medals at the Skate Canada International figure skating event in Kitchener, Nov. 22, 2009. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

WES GILBERTSON, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

Turns out, Tessa Virtue is just like every other girl her age.

So she says.

Showing the same composure and grace that made her a national sweetheart and an Olympic gold medallist, the 20-year-old figure skating starlet didn’t miss a beat when asked about the scuttlebutt she has a soft spot for hockey hero Sidney Crosby.

“What Canadian girl doesn’t?” Virtue replied.

These days, perhaps a better question is what Canadian girl doesn’t want to be the next Tessa Virtue?

Still basking in the glow of their Olympic triumph, Virtue and longtime partner Scott Moir will headline Sunday’s Sears Stars on Ice stop at the Saddledome, an exhibition event that will also feature Kurt Browning, Joannie Rochette and the dynamic duo of David Pelletier and Jamie Sale.

Since standing atop the podium in Vancouver, Virtue and Moir have been toasted at countless parades and parties, signed an endorsement deal with Roots and — best of all — scored tickets to the Olympic men’s hockey showdown between Canada and the archrival Americans.

“Besides the podium and winning our own individual skating, that was the highlight for Scott and I at the Games,” Virtue said. “That gold-medal game was unbelievable. To feel the energy and to feel the excitement in the building, it was just the best.

“And you really couldn’t have written a better script. It was perfect for Canada and made it that much more exciting going into overtime and Crosby getting the goal. It was just amazing.”

Since Crosby’s golden goal, it’s been Virtue and Moir putting in overtime.

After the Olympics, they returned to their training base in Michigan for three weeks of practise, then grabbed gold at the world championships in Italy, joined Japan’s Stars on Ice and jetted to Halifax for the first stop of the Canadian tour.

As for finding time to reminisce about their achievements this winter, that’ll have to wait.

“It really hasn’t registered yet,” Virtue said. “I just keep pinching myself and when we skate with Stars on Ice, to hear that announcement that says ‘Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir,’ it still sounds funny to me.

“It’s been so exciting, but we really haven’t had time to breathe and let it sink in.

“So maybe when we’re off the ice and we can pack the skates away and sit down with family and friends and swap stories and talk about the Olympic experience, yeah, maybe that’s when it will start to hit me.”

Perhaps Sunday’s performance at the Saddledome will mark a starting point of sorts for Canada’s next skating sensation.

Before she was an Olympic gold medallist and a world champion, Virtue was a regular at Stars on Ice events in her hometown of London, Ont.

In fact, she still has fond memories of posing for a photo with Browning, a four-time world champion who has been lacing ’em up on the tour for two decades.

“I have a picture with Kurt and I’m just beaming — ear-to-ear smiling,” Virtue said. “Now, to be touring right alongside Kurt is amazing.

“If you ever told that little eight-year-old girl that she’d be skating in the show one day, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

Who would’ve imagined this?


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