|Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei on Feb. 17, 2011. (NICKY LOH/Reuters)
They are healthy, refreshed and itching to get back into competition.
It’s so good Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue feel “like we’re a new team.”
The skating world will get a look at the defending world and Olympic ice dancing champions when they compete at the 2011 world figure skating championships in Moscow from April 24-May 1, 2011. The competition was scheduled for Toyko, Japan in late March but was moved because of the earthquake and tsunami tragedy.
It will be the first full competition for the pair since they won the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
They pulled out of the Four Continents championships in Taiwan in February after Virtue experienced tightness in her left quadriceps muscle 30 seconds into their free dance.
“I feel great,” Virtue said. “We’re right on track where we want to be. It almost feels like we’re a new team.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Moir. Being able to train at full speed is something the pair has had trouble doing — because of the celebrations after the Olympic gold and the injuries to Virtue.
“To be able to work every step, every little movement of the program, to know where we’re supposed to be, we’re having fun with program getting to comfort level, getting back to skating like that after what’s been a very adventuresome year to say the least, is comforting and exciting,” he said.
Both Virtue and Moir were affected by the tragedy in Japan.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Moir said. “It makes you take a step back and makes you realize how little the skating world and the skating thing that we do is. It puts you in your place.
“The extra time with the challenges we’ve had this season is a good thing. We’ve tried to embrace it.”
Moir talked about the frustration of having to quit the Four Continents competition after just 30 seconds. Virtue underwent surgery last October and the pair had been building for the Four Continents competition.
“Before you go into competition as an athlete, you think you are ready to go. We were ready to go. There was a little bit of frustration on my face and I can’t say that I was terribly proud of it, to be honest,” Moir said.
The issue with Virtue’s quad injury was identified quickly. It came from the stress placed on her pelvis and back. The lift was changed from a split and changed to an upside-down lift and there has been no problem with the quad since.
“We’re skating a different way than we have in the last few years,” she said. “It may be it’s just that I feel different skating. I’m enjoying it and able to train at 100%, which is a treat.
“When something is taken away from you, you realize just how much you love it and want it, I think we found that spark again and we needed that. We approached this season a little differently. We’re trying to enjoy the process, enjoy every day in training, enjoy competing again and challenging ourselves.”
It has taken a while to get to this place for Moir and Virtue. The pressure of preparing for the Olympics and then competing there, the celebrations after the victory and enjoying what the victory meant and then the injuries to Virtue, exhausted the pain both physically and mentally.
“The physical training, pre-Olympics and pre-world we were in this world where we trained with no distractions,” Moir said. “We didn’t allow anything outside that even had a chance to be a distraction to our training. It didn’t exist in our lives. We let that go for the summer and a little bit of fall. We were living the Tessa and Scott World Tour, as I like to call it. Taking advantage of opportunity being Olympic and World Champions. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”