LONDON, ONT. - If they could, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir would've changed one thing about the World Figure Skating Championships.
The hometown heroes would have switched the national anthem at Saturday's ice dance medal ceremony from the Star Spangled Banner to O Canada.
They didn't win, but London did, in the minds of the globe-trotting skaters whose seventh career worlds will always be their most memorable.
“We never could have imagined a hometown world championships,” Virtue, the 23-year-old Londoner, said. “London is on the world stage and it has handled it gracefully. We felt the excitement (ahead of last week) building. It's what everybody has been talking about.
“The skating crowd is phenomenal. There are no more knowledgeable fans.”
Three-time men's world champ Patrick Chan said the atmosphere at Budweiser Gardens – even when it wasn't filled to capacity early in the week – inspired the skaters. The arena, with a capacity of 6,691 for figure skating events, was the smallest venue used for the worlds in the 10 times Canada has hosted the tournament.
“I don't think we're pulling wool over anyone's eyes in trying to compare with Moscow, Nice (France), Tokyo,” Moir, the 25-year-old Ilderton, Ont., native, said. “It's a unique worlds and I think the community did an amazing job.
“It was really neat for Tessa and I to see our community pull together.”
Collectively, the Canadian team enjoyed a wildly successful worlds. They will now send 17 of a possible 18 skaters to the Olympics next year.
London is the springboard to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia just like it was for the Olympics in Vancouver three years ago when it held the national championships.
“This venue has done so much for the city, bringing it to life,” Virtue said. “It has brought so many amazing artists. It was really special to share with our family
“Thank you (London). We feel that support, not just this week, but everywhere we go.”
Soon, it will be back to work in Canton, Mich., to start forming their Olympic-season short and free dances.
“I have (an) idea and very soon, I will (unveil it),” coach and choreographer Marina Zoueva said.
Virtue said she was healthy this week and the calf cramp that acted up at Four Continents didn't hinder her performance. She wore two new dresses in competition at these worlds.
“Be a little more fresh, something different, more excitement,” Zoueva said. “Like a woman, when we have a new dress, we (feel) much better. Even me, I'm more excited when I come to a competition with a new outfit.”
Now, her job is to tailor programs that will erase Virtue and Moir's bitter taste of silver here and get them back on the Olympic podium.