Ice Dancing: Canada Takes Gold, USA Silver
VANCOUVER - Training partners with the same coaches and the same dreams dueled for Olympic ice dancing gold Monday. Roaring, flag-waving home fans got their wish when Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir bested Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the USA to put Canada atop the ice dancing podium for the first time in the Winter Games.
"It was such an amazing performance. We're just so pleased with it. It's been an incredible journey. Thank you, Canada," Virtue said.
The silver medal by Davis and White was the third Olympic medal in ice dancing for the USA since the sport was added to the Games in 1976.
"Scott and Tessa are so talented, and we see that on a daily basis," Davis said. "It's comforting to have such a talented team with you everyday. We both push each other."
Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, the 2009 world champions, took the bronze ahead of the USA's Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.
Virtue, 20, and Moir, 23, skated their medal-clinching free dance to the music of Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler.
With each lift and spin, the Canadian fans cheered. The biggest reaction came during a lift on which Virtue balanced herself on one knee on Moir's back with her arms in the air. The Canadians, world medalists the last two seasons, won the free dance with 110.42 points. Their winning overall point total in all three phases of the competition was 221.57.
"It's just perfect," Moir said. "You couldn't write up a better story for the two of us."
Virtue and Moir and Davis and White train together in the Detroit area at the Arctic Figure Skating Club under the direction of Russian coaches Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva.
Shpilband marched with the USA in the opening ceremony; Zoueva marched with Canada. But both coaches have continued to work with both teams. Both joined each team in the kiss-and-cry area to await their scores Monday.
Davis, 23, and White, 22, both University of Michigan students and winners of the last two U.S. titles, skated their free dance to The Phantom of the Opera. Outnumbered U.S. fans cheered their big lift: Davis balancing herself on White's back with no hands while he skated backward. They scored 107.19 points in their free dance and 215.74 points overall, 5.83 points behind the champions.
Canada's fifth gold in this Olympics came a day after the USA beat Canada 5-3 in men's hockey. At ice dancing, the home crowd chanted, "Canada, Canada," as Virtue and Moir took the ice. The night ended with Virtue and Moir atop the podium during the playing of O Canada.
"We couldn't have asked for a better week for us here in Vancouver," Virtue said.
The Russians had won seven of nine previous Olympic gold medals in the discipline.
Canada had won one previous Olympic medal in ice dancing, a bronze in 1988 by Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall.
The USA had previously won two Olympic medals in ice dancing: a silver by Belbin and Agosto in the 2006 Torino Games and a bronze by Colleen O'Connor and Jim Millns in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria.
Virtue and Moir won a world silver medal in 2008 and a world bronze in 2009.
Monday, they completed their trifecta with gold.
"There were no mistakes. It was an incredible Olympic performance," Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said. "You could almost see them absorb it (the crowd). It raised their performance level."