Chan, Virtue and Moir skip worlds, retirement possible

Three of Canada's biggest figure skating stars — Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — won't...

Three of Canada's biggest figure skating stars — Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — won't attend the world championships later this month in Japan. (QMI Agency file photo)

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:24 PM ET

Using his head, Patrick Chan knew in his heart he didn’t have the will to win a fourth straight world figure skating title.

The Toronto skater just couldn’t do it so soon after the Olympics, hot on the heels of a double-silver medal showing in Sochi that was trumpeted by some as a major accomplishment, a huge letdown by others.

Same for Canadian ice dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, who followed up their gold medal showing in Vancouver with a pair of silvers in Sochi.

And just like that, Canada’s chances of winning a medal — any medal — in the two events this country has dominated in recent years, vanished when three of the sport’s biggest stars decided they’d rather stay home and enjoy their post-Olympic experience than add to their competitive resume at the worlds later this month in Saitama, Japan.

Here’s something else to chew on: We might have seen the last of Chan, as well as Virtue and Moir — a trio with a combined five world titles. Their competitive figure skating days might be done.

None of the three came right out and mentioned “retirement” — Moir let the word slip, Freudian or otherwise, once during a Skate Canada conference call Monday — but there was a sense that a full-time move to pro skating, where the pay days are vastly superior and the pressure less intense, could be on the horizon.

“I don’t feel like this is the end,” Chan said. “For the immediate moment, I know I don’t want to be involved in the competitive side. I still feel like I want to accomplish more. In my heart, I know I want to win another world championship. But the first step I’ve taken is I don’t want to go to these world championships.”

It could be a bit of burnout for Chan, a polarizing skater who is almost equally praised for winning world titles and mocked for falling short of the gold medal at the Olympics. He took a lot of heat when he failed to take advantage of a slip by eventual gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan in the free skate at the Games.

So it’s possible Chan just needs a break, a bit of down time out of the spotlight.

“I knew it would be smart to just let this one go,” Chan said. “I was being realistic. I know I don’t skate well when I’m not fully involved. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard (deciding not to go).”

Like Chan, Virtue and Moir waffled about their future on the ice, even though most expect them to retire after finishing behind Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White in Sochi.

Moir did drop a “retirement” bomb that was almost missed, but backtracked quickly when questioned about it.

“We always planned to re-evaluate our position after the Olympics,” Moir said. “We need some more time before we plan for next season. We’re hoping to find some clarity in (the next few weeks).”

Virtue said they had planned on competing at the worlds before joining the all-Canadian Stars on Ice tour, which kicks off April 25 in Halifax. But after settling in back home, the pair decided to use the time to figure out if they want to continue in competitive skating.

“The first step for us coming home was whether we would compete at the world championships,” Virtue said. “We’re going to give ourselves some time. We owe it to ourselves to give it some time.

“We always planned for the world championships, just in case. We ended on such a high note. It just seemed like the right way to end the season and say goodbye to those two programs in particular.”

 

CANADA SENDING 17 TO JAPAN

Seventeen figure skaters will represent Canada at the world championships in Saitama, Japan later this month.

Unfortunately, none are named Chan, Virtue or Moir.

With three-time defending world champ Patrick Chan and Olympic gold medallist ice dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue out of the mix this year, the pairs team of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford inherits the mantle of Great Canadian Medal Hope in Japan.

Duhamel and Radford will skate in pairs along with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch and Paige Kennedy and Rudi Swiegers.

Olympians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje will compete in ice dance along with Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

Kevin Reynolds, who finished 15th in Sochi, leads the trio of Canadian men. Elladj Balde and 15-year-old Nam Nguyen will also skate in men’s singles while Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman will compete in women’s singles.


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