Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue question coach's loyalty

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir wave their flag after the flower ceremony for the figure...

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir wave their flag after the flower ceremony for the figure skating ice dance free dance program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 17, 2014. (REUTERS)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - They’re one of the world’s top ice dance teams, but they also became experts at tap dancing around the question of their coach.

As the losses to American arch-rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White began to build this season, Canadian skaters Tessa Virtaue and Scott Moir started questioning whether they had the right coach in Marina Zoueva, and whether the coach was favouring her other high-profile team — Davis and White.

It finally reached the point that Virtue and Moir confronted Zoueva to discus her commitment to them and whether she was doing enough to help them defend in Sochi their 2010 Olympic gold medal.

“We went to Marina on countless occasions and told her that we weren’t happy and in no way were we going to be happy with a silver medal (in Sochi),” said Moir. “We tried everything. It felt a little bit like we were in quicksand because (the American pair) were getting away from us. I think Marina listened to us and we kind of reshaped some of our program. But she’s an artist as well, so she wanted to stay true to her vision.

“We were both pretty blunt with her in the fall — and even leading up to the Olympics — that we weren’t happy and we felt sometimes that she wasn’t in our corner,” Moir added. “(But) she handled that tremendously well. She just, she’s been with us now for 10 years and I really think that she loves us and she pours her heart into our choreography.”

Still, despite their frustrations leading up to the Games and the fact that the international judges seemed to prefer the programs of Davis and White, not enough was done obviously to give Virtue and Moir the winning program for the Sochi Olympics.

As it turned out, Davis and White cruised to the ice dance gold, easily out-scoring Virtue and Scott, despite the fact that both teams seemed to skate excellent programs. There were some suggestions that the American team’s programs were simply more appealing than the Canadian’s — and it was Zoueva who choreographed both.

The disenchantment began to build for Virtue and Scott as the Olympic approached.

“We had some odd things happen this year that hasn’t happened before, we expected that Marina would march with us (in the opening ceremony) and be with our team like she was in Vancouver,” said Moir. “It was a tough pill to swallow and also not being at our national championships for the first time in our whole career was odd. But as Tessa said, we’re mature enough to handle that.”

At the end of the day, Virtue and Moir said they don’t want to sound like they’re blaming Zoueva for their loss here in Sochi.

“She’s given us a lot of great things in our career,” said Moir. “This wasn’t a failure; this was a successful Games for us. We don’t look back on this and think we made a mistake by not switching coaches, for sure.

“She’s not in an easy position,” he added. “My mum’s a coach and she always says to me, ‘She can’t win no matter’ . . . well she does win no matter, kind of, but there’s always an angry set of parents and an angry set of skaters after every competition.”

There were whispers all through the Olympic ice dancing competition that the judges were favouring the Americans, including a media report that there was a deal in place between the Americans and Russians to prop up Davis and White — nothing that’s been proven.

Still, fans and experts alike were angry at some of the lowball marks awarded to Virtue and Moir in the short and free dance and many considered the outcome pre-determined.

“The pre-determined question . . . it is too bad that seems to be the headline no matter what. Although we don’t mind it particularly in this case,” said Moir. “But I think it’s sad that when you watch someone have a good race automatically your mind goes to ‘Oh are they doping or was that predetermined?’ And I would hope and think everybody involved in the Olympics has to make the effort to rid sport of those things.

“I think at end of the day we had a great forum for us to go out there and perform and it didn’t go our way,” added Moir. “But I don’t think the judging was pre-determined. It’s just the way the cookie crumbled I guess.”

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

twitter @beezersun


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