Virtue, Moir bask in golden afterglow

By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency


Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir show off their gold medals after talking to the media Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 in Vancouver. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

VANCOUVER — This is what happens after winning an Olympic gold medal.

This is what happens after figure skating history.

Ice dancer Scott Moir howled.

Partner Tessa Virtue belted out O Canada, laughing the whole time at her singing.

Tiny Ilderton, Ont., where Moir’s aunt Carol first paired up Canada’s new Torvill-and-Dean-calibre dream team 13 years ago, erupted.

Moir did the figure skating version of the Lambeau Leap, jumping into the arms of his choked-up older brothers, Danny and Charlie. They used to beat him up but now hugged and held him with all their might.

“To see Scott and Tessa out there, realizing their dream and knowing all the hard work they put into it,” Charlie said, “I was so proud.”

Virtue went to doping control. Moir scooted back to the Pacific Coliseum surface without his skates.

There, the young man who all the girls at the Ilderton Skating Club had swooned over made out with the ice.

“I always wanted to kiss the rings,” he said. “I french-kissed the ice. I got up and my face was all wet.”

They appeared on TV, then a late-night family-and-friend pasta party at Vancouver’s Il Giardino, back to Grouse Mountain for NBC’s Today Show, more TV and pictures, and finally, to the athletes village for a quick nap at dawn.

“It was a nice feeling to roll over on my right and see my Olympic gold medal,” Virtue said.

Moir had his own air-tight security system in place.

“I took it (the medal) off when I went in the shower, but I kept opening the glass door so I could keep my eye on it,” Moir said. “For the next couple of days, I’m not going to let it out of my sight.

“I’m going to wear it for the next few weeks.”

The Prime Minister called.

“I didn’t have any jokes for him,” said Moir, who almost never runs out of one-liners. “I thought he’d have a few good ones for me.”

Then, Pat Quinn called. The 2002 Canadian Olympic men’s hockey coach and his wife had watched.

“To hear from someone like him meant a lot to me,” said Moir, who fancied himself a hockey star until he figured out holding the hand of a beautiful, young woman trumped chasing a puck with 19 other guys.

“We want to inspire everyone. We even want to inspire that 90-year-old grandpa on the couch waiting for a hockey game to switch over to ice dance and watch.”

He wasn’t referring to Quinn.

Like all golden runs, the joy is nothing without the journey.

Beneath all Virtue’s elegance and Moir’s confidence, there had been major worry and concern.

Before their golden Goose lift-off, their grand Olympic plans slammed off course last season.

Virtue had shin problems and couldn’t skate. Moir was forced to practise with a sand bag for a partner, hoping she’d be back in time.

“Tessa was given a choice,” Virtue’s dad Jim said. “Surgery or retire.

“We didn’t know if she’d be able to bounce back from it. We didn’t know what would happen.”

As Moir’s skate coach/mom Alma watched her 22-year-old son and his 20-year-old partner skate the best free dance since “Bolero,” she still pictured them as they were when they started — the cute kids who never talked but had that certain something eventually forged by Marina Zoueva into a burning on-ice (not off-ice) romance.

Virtue evolved from talented cutie to one of the world’s best skaters. Moir, once considered too scrawny for the more complicated lift, has made it a man’s game.

The bitter, no-medal Italians accused their skating of being “not dancing.”

It is, in fact, pure dancing.

“At the end, I kept saying we’re Olympic champions,” Virtue said. “Hearing the national anthem, it gave me goosebumps.”

Fitting, since that’s what they gave everyone who watched them before their golden whirlwind began.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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