Seven months after announcing they wanted to take another run at the Olympic Games, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will end their two-year hiatus from competition on Thursday.
Ahead of their return to the ISU Grand Prix circuit at Skate Canada International in Mississauga at the end of October, the three-time Olympic medallists and two-time world champions will take to the ice at the Autumn Classic International, one of the ISU’s Challenger Series events, in Montreal.
That city just so happens to be their current training ground, having joined arguably the hottest ice dance school in the world at the moment under the tutelage of Canadian Olympians and two-time world silver medallists Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon. Among their training mates are the two-time reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, something they see as an advantage as the two teams can push and motivate each other.
“We’ve had so much fun on the ice and we have so much to learn and it’s exciting to just settle into life as an athlete again,” Virtue told Skate Canada at their high performance camp at the end of August. There they showcased their new programs for officials and received valuable feedback.
Now it’s time for Canadian fans to get their first glimpse of what Virtue and Moir have created with Dubreuil and Lauzon, with whom they worked on show programs over the last couple of years.
For the short dance, they’re pulling out some Prince. Bookending the required blues rhythm will be “Kiss” at the start and the “Purple Rain” guitar solo at the end as they bring hip hop onto the ice, a style they experimented with during their competitive break. The free dance will feature Sam Smith’s acoustic version of “Latch” for a more lyrical feel.
“As athletes there’s just more we thought we could do,” Moir told Skate Canada of their reasons for returning. “We watched tape and kinda thought that wasn’t the product we wanted to leave as our last memory. We wanted to push ourselves to do a little bit more. Part of that has to do with competing at an Olympic Games and wearing the Canada flag on our back another time. But honestly right now it’s just about pushing ourselves to be the best that we can.”
They also come back with a much different perspective on their sport, having been on the broadcast side for several events which allowed them to just sit back and soak in what other skaters were creating.
“Just understanding there’s life outside of skating and getting to take part in various opportunities that we weren’t able to for so many years when we were focusing so intensely, I think that’s added to our overall perspective as athletes and I think we’ll skate a little bit differently, I hope so. If anything it gave us a clear idea of what we wanted to accomplish and the direction and the route we wanted to take,” Virtue told Skate Canada.
They won’t be the only Canadians getting their season started this weekend. Also competing in Montreal will be reigning national ladies’ champion Alaine Chartrand and national pairs’ silver medallists Juliane Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau.
A full event schedule can be found here.
Skate Canada will live stream the event.