Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir conjured up a magical record breaking performance to win Olympic ice dance gold and become the most decorated Olympic skaters of all time on Tuesday.
In what is almost certainly their final appearance on the world stage, the Vancouver 2010 champions looked destined for silver after French rivals Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron appeared to have stolen the show in Pyeongchang, breaking their own free dance and combined score mark.
But skating last, Virtue and Moir pulled out the dance of their lives under incredible pressure to earn 122.40 for a combined record total of 206.07 points and the gold medal, narrowly bettering the French duo’s 205.28.
In bronze, almost 13 points behind, came American brother and sister Maia and Alex Shibutani.
“We didn’t see them dance, we were very much in our world, we didn’t even see their score,” said the 28-year-old Virtue.
Moir added: “We knew today we’d put in a fantastic performance, gave it all we had, we skated with our hearts. We were present, we were together, we knew we were happy. Gabby and Guillaume are a good team, we knew it would be a fight right to the end.”
The Vancouver 2010 champions looked destined for silver after French rivals Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron appeared to have stolen the show, breaking their own free dance and combined score mark.
But skating last, Virtue and Moir pulled out the dance of their lives under incredible pressure to earn 122.40 for a combined total of 206.07 points, narrowly bettering the French duo’s 205.28.
“Amazing. It was a special moment to come out last,” said Virtue.
“It was a strong last group, there was a lot of pressure, but I’m so happy with how we performed.”
For Virtue, 28 and Moir, 30 this was a fifth medal to go with their Vancouver gold and silvers they won in the team and ice dance at Sochi, and gold in last week’s team event in Pyeongchang. That made the popular Canadians the most decorated figure skaters of all time.
They had led after Monday’s short programme, in which Papadakis suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.
Wearing a backless all in one number this time with no annoying clips to become unfastened she and her partner could not have done any more in their bid to become only France’s second ever champions in this discipline likened to ballroom dancing on ice.
They have been superb all season, becoming the first ice dancers to break the 200 point mark last year. Their elegant and seamless routine to Beethoven’s Piano and Moonlight sonatas earned a row of level fours from the judges.
Papadakis fell into Cizeron’s arms crying, before the couple exited to the wings of the Gangneung Arena to see if their training companions in Montreal could deny them the title.
The Canadian couple began their routine to Roxanne from Moulin Rouge with many at the venue believing they were tilting at windmills.
But their energetic and sensual tango stole the rink jury’s hearts, and broke those of their two French friends’ watching their dream of Olympic glory disappear.
Told in the mixed zone that some rink experts were suggesting they were the greatest skaters of all time, Virtue laughed: “Where are these people?!”
She added: “That’s incredibly flattering, it’s hard to wrap our heads around, especially so close to the event, but we are grateful of the legends that have come before us.”
The duo will allow their achievement to seep in before they tell the world their next steps.
“If it is the end we are extremely pleased with that,” said Moir.
“We’ll probably make an announcement in the coming days, but for us we just want to enjoy this right now and let the dust kind of settle and figure out what’s next.”
“It wasn’t the best part of the day (watching Virtue and Moir) but it’s like that, they skated really well,” said Cizeron.
He added: “We gave our all, that’s why we were so emotional on the ice at the end.
“In spite of everything, it was a ‘beau combat’.”
Papadakis, commenting on her misfortune a day earlier when her dress slipped, said: “I had no choice but to get over what happened yesterday.
“We had to get over it, and we did, otherwise we wouldn’t have performed as we did just now.”