After four silvers, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finally stood on the top step of the podium at the Grand Prix Final, winning the gold medal in Marseille, France.
They finished ahead of the home favourites and two-time reigning world champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.
The 2010 Olympic champions, who are two-time world champions themselves, scored a personal best 116.72 in the free dance. Added to their world record short dance score (80.50) from Friday, they also broke their own world record mark for overall score set just two weeks ago at NHK Trophy, totaling 197.22.
That gave them a winning margin of 4.41 points over the French (192.81), who moved up from third place after the short dance, overtaking American world silver medallists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (189.60).
It’s been nearly five years since Virtue and Moir’s last major international title at the 2012 World Championships. This was their sixth career appearance at the Grand Prix Final and the biggest test so far in their comeback after two years away from competition.
“At the start of the season our goal was really to qualify for this event,” Virtue said in an in-arena interview. “After competing at Grand Prix Final five (previous) times, it feels nice to finally get the win.”
“This is such a huge event to compete against the top six in the world,” added Moir. “We’re lucky enough we get to see the fantastic French team, Gabriella and Guillaume (as their training mates in Montreal). We’re huge fans so for us to even be in the same competition as them is a huge honour.”
Virtue and Moir’s free dance had a bit of a wonky beginning when there was a mistake with the playing of their music. But they didn’t let it unnerve them. They received level fours on all elements but their two step sequences which were level three. The French also received level three on their step sequences as well as their twizzles.
The Canadians executed their elements so well that the technical value increased from a base of 41.30 points to 58.58. In a show of how much programs can improve with repetition as the season goes along, they received nine perfect 10s from individual judges in their components marks, including four for interpretation and timing. That gave them 9.86 out of a possible 10 for that particular component. They also scored highly on performance and composition, averaging 9.71 and 9.75, respectively.
In her first Grand Prix Final appearance, Kaetlyn Osmond finished fourth overall. On a day when the women were landing almost everything, Osmond doubled the back end of a double Axel-triple toe combo as well as a planned triple Salchow, dropping her from second place after the short program. Still, it was her best free skate of the season, with a personal best score of 136.91 for an overall personal best 212.45 points. Reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia (227.66) took the gold medal ahead of a couple world medallists, Satoko Miyahara of Japan (218.33) and Anna Pogorilaya of Russia (216.47).
Meanwhile, the door had been left open for Patrick Chan to step up and win his first Grand Prix Final gold since 2011, but it was not to be after he fell three times, on both triple Axels and his first quad toe. He turned his second quad toe into a triple. The one positive to come out of the performance was that he landed the quad Salchow for the first time in his career. Chan dropped from second after a personal best short program all the way to fifth (266.75). Yuzuru Hanyu took the gold (293.90) for the fourth straight year despite finishing third in the free skate behind American wunderkind Nathan Chen (282.85) and fellow Japanese Shoma Uno (282.51). The 17-year-old Chen landed four quads, including the Lutz and flip.