Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada celebrate during the venue ceremony after winning the ice dance, free dance figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada celebrate during the venue ceremony after winning the ice dance, free dance figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir named team of the year

Just one YouTube video of the pair’s Olympic free dance program has almost three million views

The pressure at Gangneung Ice Arena was palpable. The world was watching. But in what was among the most memorable four minutes of the Pyeongchang Olympics, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir delivered the skate of their lives.

A world record total score, and a third gold medal that made the Canadian ice dance darlings the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history. Virtue and Moir perfectly executed a golden plan they’d announced — to mixed reviews — when they’d returned to the sport 18 months earlier.

“When we announced our comeback, no one was happy, competitors, skaters, family, friends, even our governing body, everyone was surprised, because it was such a risk,” Virtue said. “Maybe because we believed in ourselves and believed in what we could pursue, we felt there was so much more to do.”

On Friday, Virtue and Moir were rewarded for their historic comeback performance by winning the The Canadian Press team of the year award for 2018. The ice dancers picked up 39 of 54 votes (72.2 per cent) in a poll of writers, broadcasters and editors from across the country.

“Virtue and Moir … it’s up there with Torvill and Dean now,” said Wayne Chamberlain, sports editor of Postmedia’s Editorial Services. ”They captivated a global audience with their swan song performance and made many a Canadian eye tear up.”

The Canadian junior hockey team that won gold at the 2018 world junior championships in Buffalo was second with five of 54 votes (9.3 per cent), while Laval’s football team that went undefeated and captured the Vanier Cup was third with four votes (7.4 per cent).

READ MORE: Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

“It’s so incredible, I was looking back at the history of this (award) to get some perspective and just trying to understand how 10 months later people still seem to care, or remember us, and it’s a great moment to reflect,” Virtue said. ”Of course it’s the end of the year, but 10 months after the Games, it’s a nice chance to just take a moment and reflect on the impact at the Olympics had across Canada.”

Golfer Brooke Henderson captured the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award on Wednesday as the year’s top female athlete, while freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury won the Lionel Conacher Award as the top male athlete on Thursday.

Partners for two decades, Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., had been melting hearts since they claimed gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. They stepped away from the sport for two seasons after their silver in Sochi, returning with a single-minded focus of gold in South Korea.

WATCH: Moir says he can’t believe he and Virtue have Walk of Fame star

Virtue and Moir held a slim lead over Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France after the short dance, despite the fact Papadakis skated most of the program with the clasp of her dress broken.

The next night, when Papadakis and Cizeron recorded a world record in the free dance, Virtue and Moir were waiting in the wings fingers in ears. They purposely didn’t look at any television monitors.

Then Virtue, in a gauzy backless red dress, and Moir, channelling his inner Ewan McGregor, brought the crowd to its feet with their breathtaking performance to music from “Moulin Rouge,” a movie they’d loved ever since they saw it together as kids.

“We knew we were trained, we were fully confident in our preparation. We had never been in better shape mentally. We were laser focused,” Virtue said. “But that doesn’t take away the nerves and it certainly doesn’t take away the gravity of the pressure.

“There were so many times throughout that day, and especially that half an hour leading into our final skate, where Scott just looked at me and reminded me: ‘You know, this is exactly what we asked for. This is what we wanted when we decided to come back to competition,’ … a ‘bring it on’ sort of a thing. And it was terrifying and unsettling, daunting, and yet also really exhilarating.

“That thrill of taking the ice on the world’s biggest stage, the pressure mounting, I think that’s the sort of exhilaration we’ll be chasing for the rest of our lives probably.”

The duo were among the Games’ most popular athletes. Fans swooned to their chemistry and lapped up the Canadian “love story,” which wasn’t so much a love story as a tale of friends and business partners.

“Virtue and Moir saved their best for last and captured Canada’s hearts with a flawless Olympic finale in a sport where judging means that is sometimes not enough,” said Dave Peters, the Montreal Gazette’s sports and photo editor.

Virtue still hasn’t watched her performance from South Korea. She’s too much of a perfectionist. But millions of people have. Just one YouTube video of their Olympic free dance program has almost three million views.

Virtue and Moir are the second figure skating duo to win the award, which was first presented in 1966 to the Montreal Canadiens. Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won it in 2001.

Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

YEAR 2018

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Corsac the cat is up for adoption at Critteraid.
Critteraid hosts three adoption Sundays

More than 40 cats looking for their forever homes

Abigail McCluskey is in the Netherlands training to compete in the World Cup next month. She joins 12 Canadian speedskaters for the international competition later this month. (Dave Holland CSI Calgary)
Penticton speed skater in Netherlands for World Cup

Abigail McCluskey will be skating the long track in the international competition

Summerland Middle School
COVID exposure at Summerland Middle School

The person who tested positive was at school Jan. 11

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

When people talk about Blue Monday, they really mean Seasonal Affective Disorder, according to CMHA Kelowna. (Pixabay)
CMHA Kelowna offers tips for managing winter blues during COVID-19

CMHA says it’s important to take care of mental well-being during these times

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

A warrant was issued for Darwyn Sellars, 31, on Nov. 4, 2019, according to Black Press. (CrimeStoppers)
List of guilty pleas entered along with North Okanagan shootout

Sentencing delayed against Darwyn Sellars, who pleaded guilty to a rack of charges

Gin voices his view of having his photo taken as Ken and Karleen Kantymir pose with him and his brother Tonic. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep’s quirky antics keep Salmon Arm couple entertained

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Fire crews on scene of hot tub blaze. Michael Rodriguez, Kelowna Capital News.
Workers on concrete pump assist Kelowna homeowner battling hot tub fire

Home owners and neighbours fought the flames with a garden hose

(RCMP file photo)
Arrest made for break-in to the Penticton Herald

Police arrived to see blanket-wearing man holding computers

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

A heavy police presence near Penticton Secondary last Thursday, Jan. 14 was due to an erratic driver, a woman, 28, who was arrested. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
RCMP arrest impaired driver who rammed car near Penticton school

A 28-year-old woman was arrested at the scene

Most Read