Thursday April 17, 2014




Virtue, Moir soaking up every experience in likely final few months of careers

TORONTO - Three women are fussing over Tessa Virtue, one gently brushes her ponytail, another holds up different dangling earrings, another is trying on potential hairpieces.

The Olympic gold medallist doesn't mind the pampering.

Virtue and ice dance partner Scott Moir are in Toronto on a rare day away from the ice to do a photo shoot for "Today's Bride" magazine (don't read anything into that). And with likely just 10 months to go on a career that has spanned nearly two decades, the Canadians are soaking up every bit of the experience.

"We have to enjoy the process, and we have to take these moments now while we're still competing, and just look around and think: Lucky us. Lucky us that we get to be here, everyone is fussing over us, we're getting our hair and makeup done," says Virtue, looking stunning in a strapless wedding gown.

"It's really special and it's nice to share with friends and family and have some good photos to look back on."

Virtue and Moir have barely taken a deep breath since capping their competitive season last month with a silver medal performance at the world championships in London, Ont.

They're three cities into the Stars On Ice tour, which will cover 12 Canadian stops in three weeks, including Friday night in Toronto.

They were at the Maple Leafs game Saturday in Ottawa where Toronto clinched its first playoff berth since 2004.

"It was amazing," Virtue says. "What was surprising is I think there were almost more Leafs fans than Senators fans. It was fun to be there when the Leafs clinched a playoff spot."

Moir, a lifelong Leafs fan, said he was performing his eighth grade play "Schoolhouse Rock" when Toronto last made the post-season, and hopes to see some playoff action live.

"They'll have to last for us to (get to any games), hopefully they get to the second round because Stars on Ice will take us at least to the end of the first round," Moir said.

The 23-year-old Virtue and Moir, 25, will take a couple of weeks off at the end of May. Moir said he'll likely lie on a beach somewhere.

Then, it's all business until the Sochi Olympics for the ice dancers who to climb to the top of the podium once more before the curtain comes down on their careers.

"I think last time going into Vancouver, we were kind of sleeping in the grass, nobody knew about us, nobody thought we'd be coming out on top in Vancouver," Moir says. "And being in America, training, we didn't see a lot of hype that came with the Olympics.

"I think this year we'll have a plan like we did last time. We kind of just shut the doors at a certain point just so we're ready. We want to go out there and we know the opportunities will be there if we do our job, which is winning gold. So we have to make sure we take care of that first and foremost. We're doing this (photo shoot) now, but come September and October. . ."

Moir, who with Virtue will be one of Canada's top hopes for gold in Sochi, knows there will be plenty of people knocking on the door. He laughs when he says "They can knock all they want."

They've been poring over different pieces of music for their Olympic programs, and are close to making a final selection. Virtue says the free dance will be "more classic and elegant" than this past season's dramatic and provocative "Carmen" program.

The Canadians brought the house down in Vancouver with their ethereal free dance Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 5."

"We know we need to bring something different than Vancouver," Moir says. "Lightning doesn't strike twice, first of all. But we're also not the same people that we were, and we hope that our skating has grown and we have to showcase a couple of different elements in this year's program that we didn't in Vancouver."

Thursday's photo shoot was a sort of chance for the two to relive their Mahler moment from Vancouver.

"When we got the opportunity we kind of jumped at it. It's a great magazine, and we laughed, we're kind of portraying the characters that we do on the ice in the shoot," Moir says.

"We just wanted to be careful that it comes across that we're showing our on-ice connection. So much of what we do on the ice is showing a man and a woman, and even our Mahler program, a lot of that was talk about a proposal and the marriage and the joy that comes with that. So it's a fun opportunity for us to sort of play with that."

But the two, who are not dating, don't have wedding bells in their future.

"It should definitely create a buzz though, which is funny because that's not the purpose of today at all," Moir said of the romantic photo spread.

He adds, with a laugh, "It's probably what made us almost not want to do it."


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