Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir denied hometown gold by U.S. rivals

Canadian figure skaters Tessa Virtue, of London, and Scott Moir, of Ilderton, compete in the Ice...

Canadian figure skaters Tessa Virtue, of London, and Scott Moir, of Ilderton, compete in the Ice Dance free dance program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Budweiser Gardens in London on Saturday March 16, 2013. (CRAIG GLOVER/QMI AGENCY)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. - No pressure Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir face at next year's Olympics can match the sweltering heat of skating in a hometown worlds.

No bold and innovative free dance they create for Sochi next season will prove as difficult to master as “Carmen”.

They finally conquered both Saturday evening at Budweiser Gardens, but surrendered their world title along the way.

Beating top-notch Meryl Davis and Charlie White, especially after spotting them such a big lead in the short dance Thursday, was too much. The Americans won both dances and collected a combined 189.56 points, a commanding four-and-a-half point margin over their Canadian training mates' 185.04 total.

“It's tough to take,” Moir, the 25-year-old Ilderton native, said. “We are competitive. We like to win.

“It's the best we skated this year,” Virtue, the 23-year-old Londoner, added. “It's probably one of our greatest programs ever. We are so happy to end the season on a high note. This is a great building block.”

Davis has London ties on her father's side, and had family in the stands. She and White never felt like they were skating at home – or in a hostile environment.

“I don't really think it's something we consider,” White said. “It's not quite like a basketball game or a football game where you've got the crowd actively working against you. We certainly felt like they were on our side and we wanted to put out a great program.”

Men's champ Patrick Chan left the door open after his free skate Friday night. Davis and White slammed it shut with Cocciante's “Notre Dame de Paris” in response to Virtue and Moir's best free dance at a worlds.

“It was hard (skating at home),” Moir said. “It's easy because you have the support behind you but it's exhausting. You walk in the door and sometimes, it felt like you couldn't get away from it.

“You know every single volunteer. You know every single bellman at the hotel. We walked down the street, everyone knows who you are,” he added. “It was lovely. We love the support. We embrace it.”

In Vancouver, they were still just kids, too young to feel the jitters. This week was, Moir said, right up there with the Olympics.

“Of course, it's much more difficult to skate at home than just at a neutral territory,” said Marina Zoueva, who coaches both teams. “I saw them kind of feel the pressure but they did a great job.”

Was this the Carmen program she imagined when she drew it up last summer?

“That's exactly Carmen what I think has to be,” Zoueva said. “It's exactly Carmen – just a different score. I'm happy about them each time, because they put all their soul all the time. OK, second place, but did it matter?

“Some (fans were) crying, but everyone was involved in our creativity. It touches all hearts,” she added. “How can I be sad? How can they be sad?”

There is no turning back now after their sixth straight worlds medal. They won't dance to Carmen again, but refuse to return to something tried and tested.

“There's a lot of figure skating people who weren't really on our level and didn't agree with it at all,” Moir said, “but we'll see what we can make next year because we're not going to go back to the classic Virtue-Moir that everybody wants, either.

“We're older and more mature and I think we'll have something special for you next year.”

They need to figure some things out. They never beat Davis and White all year and lost a world title to them for the first time win a full season.

“We've got a year how to figure that out),” Moir said. “Charlie and Meryl are great skaters. We take our hats off to them. I know I get a little fired up in the media but at no point is that to discredit them. We're both pushing the sport.”

And, most importantly, each other.

“This has got to be close to the top,” White said. “The first time we won worlds (to become the first U.S. team to do it two years ago in Moscow), that has a special place but our growth this season and how far we've come to win this gold medal, I think that's what makes this really special.

“Having such talented rivals and seeing every day how great they are, it pushes us and I like to think we push them, as well.”

Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (169.19) were third. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, just three months removed from surgery on her broken fibula, finished fifth with 166.20 points.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/RyanatLFPress


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