Ilderton hosts Olympic homecoming

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

Remember all that talk Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir might hang up the blades after their Olympic and world triumphs this year?

Well, guess what the ice dance champs were up to a day before their celebratory homecoming parade and party in Ilderton starting Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.?

“Yes, we’ve been back on the ice,” the 21-year-old Virtue admitted. “We scheduled our practice (Friday) for 6 a.m. (at training base in Canton, Mich.,) so we could drive back home right after and be able to relax a little bit before the big day.

“Marina (their coach Marina Zoueva) understands.”

Virtue doesn’t know what’s in store for her and Moir today in Ilderton. But she realizes it will be massive — from the number of family, friends and well-wishers to four bands, a host of torch-relay participants and another effort to paint the town red.

“There’s nothing small about the way Ilderton does things,” she said. “Everything they do, they always do in a big way. They’ve always been so supportive to us and it’s going to be a lot of fun to see everyone again.”

There hasn’t been much of an opportunity since striking gold at the Pacific Coliseum in February.

“We came home after the Olympics but it felt like everything happened so quick,” Virtue said. “All of a sudden, we were back in Michigan training for worlds, then worlds were in Italy, and after that, we went right out on tour. We just got back from shows in Korea. It’s been pretty hectic.”

At one point, Virtue and Moir managed to fit in a week of separate vacations.

“I knew if I went to Paris, I’d be walking around the whole time and going in the stores,” Virtue said, “so instead, I sat on a beach for a week. It was great.”

They did stop back in London for a show during the Ontario swing of the month-long Stars on Ice. Another day, Virtue dropped into her big brother Casey’s Grade 8 class at Bloordale in Toronto with gold medal in tow. It was the ultimate show and tell.

“That’s been the best part of traveling around Canada is being able to meet people and share the medal with everyone,” she said. “Starting in Halifax and ending in Vancouver again, it was far enough away from the Olympics that you wondered what the reaction would be. It was great, very warm. I’m still so surprised that people even know who we are.”

Olympic gold is, after all, a magnet. “A lot of people want to kiss the medal,” she said, “but there hasn’t been anything really wacky.”

There will, next skating season, be at least one retirement: The famous signature Goose lift is going to be gonzo.

“For competitions, I think we’re going to go in a different direction,” Virtue said. “We’ll probably have it for shows, of course, and nothing is definite. We’re just listening to music right now, thinking about our programs for next year. We’re looking at all new lifts, new steps and spins.

“It’s a new season.”

While they’re partying in Ilderton, the new frontiers of ice dance will start to be hashed out at the International Skating Union congress in Spain this week.

The final nail in the coffin of compulsory dance could be hammered home for good. That’ll make Moir gleeful, for sure.

The original dance, which created such controversy over the Russians’ interpretation of Aboriginal culture, is expected to be transformed into a two-minute, 50-second “short dance” in an attempt to modernize the event.

Much to the chagrin of some fans, Virtue and Moir — Canada’s Sweethearts — simply remain a successful business relationship.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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