The old photos and video clips show two kids dancing on the ice and posing with their medals. Their smiles seem bigger than their faces and they look genuinely happy. Tessa Virtue posted these clips and photos on her Instagram (view here) and takes us back to where it all began: Back into 1997, when she and Scott Moir, two young Canadian Skaters from London, Ontario, teamed up at the ages of eight and nine years. They showed a lot of promise early on and would go on to become the most successful Figure Skaters in modern history with a total of three Olympic Gold medals, two Olympic silver medals, three World titles, three Four Continents titles, and eight National titles. The Skaters made history by becoming the first Olympic Ice Dance Champions from North America and the youngest Olympic Ice Dance Champions when winning at age 20 and 22.
When Virtue/Moir showed up on the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating and ISU World Junior Championships in the 2003/04 season, it was clear that they were special. They stood out with their soft and smooth skating, their harmony on the ice, their expression and emotion. Not surprisingly, the young Canadians won silver in their second ISU Junior World Championships appearance in 2005, in Kitchener, Ontario, not far from their home. They took the ISU World Junior title in 2006 and competed in their first ISU World Championship in 2007, placing a respectable sixth, which was unusual for a team that just had moved up from the junior level. It didn’t take Virtue/Moir long to get on to the World podium – a year later they claimed silver in Gothenburg, Sweden, and they struck Olympic gold 2010 in Vancouver in their home country. Their great rivalry from their junior days with their training mates Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) continued until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games where the Americans won and Virtue/Moir got the silver and as well silver in the inaugural Olympic team event.
Virtue/Moir then took a break from competing, but returned in the 2016/17 season, now coached by Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Hagenauer at the Ice Academy Montreal. The Ice Dance stars continued where they had left off, won the 2017 World title and then again Olympic Gold in 2018 before retiring.
Scott is now back at the international scene as a coach. Asked about his most precious memories from his skating career, he does not have to think long.
“It’s hard to beat 2018 Olympics because it’s kind of the culmination of our career. But it’s all the memories, all of the moments shared with Tessa what I hold near and dear to my heart”, he said. “The early mornings in the grubby little hockey rink and Tessa and I and Patrice (Lauzon) just kind of in the lab grinding away. Those are the most precious moments that I have with the sport. So we were able to accomplish what we accomplished at the Olympic Games. It really ended up being about us in our space creating, trying to be the best we could be. That’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”
Indeed, it is more than this success, more than these medals that Virtue/Moir brought to the sport. They pushed their limits and the limits of Ice Dance and were able to combine the technical aspects with the artistic side of the sport. Figure Skating and especially Ice Dance is more than sport, it is also an art. Art wants freedom and as athletes Virtue/Moir often criticized the rules that they felt were limiting them in their expression. On the other hand, a sport needs rules so it can be judged. The Canadians and their coaches – from juniors throughout 2014 Igor Shpiland and Marina Zueva, Zueva alone and then from 2016 to 2018 the Ice Academy of Montreal team under Patrice Lauzon – solved the dilemma by creating programs that were incredibly artistic and highly technical at the same time. In 2010, Virtue/Moir danced to Olympic gold on home ice in Vancouver performing to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 – a music that was new to skating. The Canadians showed a huge versatility of styles throughout the years, from lyrical to fun and upbeat, from passionate to dramatic. After Mahler, they chose music by Alexander Glazunov and Alexander Skriabin for their 2014 Olympic program and “Moulin Rouge” for 2018. They also danced to “Funny Face”, Latin American music and “Carmen” by Rodion Shchedrin in their career.
However, while the team rose quickly in the ranks and remained at the top for almost a decade, they had to overcome setbacks. Virtue suffered from chronic exertional compartment syndrome and underwent surgery on her shins in October 2008 and again two years later to reduce the pain.
Following their retirement, Virtue/Moir did not have a long show career. Their goodbye tour ended in December 2019. Tessa focused on studying, while Scott suddenly found himself at the other side of the boards as a coach which came rather unexpected to him but in the end was logical.
“I knew for most of my career that I did not want to coach for sure,” he revealed. “But my mom and my aunt and my cousins are all involved in skating and I wanted to help them. They wanted to be elite coaches. They wanted to have an elite synchro program. They wanted to have elite ice dance teams. And I thought at the very least I could help them get there. And once I started to coach I got hooked.”
He now coaches in London, Ontario, where it all began, in a school that is part of the Ice Academy Montréal. Training in this school himself as an athlete, led Moir to become a coach.
“The reason why I work with IAM is a direct reflection of my time as an athlete at the Ice Academy Montreal under Patrice, Marie-France and Romain. They changed our life, our look on skating and gave us such a magical time there,” he said.
Virtue is not involved in Figure Skating on a daily basis, she pursued her studies and graduated with a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2023. However, she and Moir are in touch and worked together with ISU European silver medalists Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson in the summer.
“To be able to be back kind of in that lab again with Tess was very, very cool,” Scott shared. “So I will be working hard to try and get Tessa back on the ice anytime she feels like she has the calling.”
Now the Ice Dancers are introduced into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
“We always were very passionate about being able to represent Canada. We were always very honored to be able to be a part of Olympic teams with Olympic athletes. To be in this class with the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame is pretty touching,” Moir noted.
“To be mentioned as a Canadian Sports Hall of Fame (member) is something that’s not lost on neither Tessa and I. It’s extremely emotional, touching. And that is looking back and seeing how beautiful now, kind of with hindsight, how beautiful our journey together was. How we got so much support from Canadians and international fans alike to be a part of this is really a true honor,” he concluded.