Osmond, Virtue-Moir capture gold medals at Skate Canada International
REGINA — A little over a year into their sensational return to ice dancing, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir feel like they're "home."
And home has been pretty good to Canada's Olympic gold and silver medallists.
Virtue and Moir roared to a world record overall score in winning their seventh Skate Canada International title on Saturday, and have yet to lose a competition since they launched their dazzling comeback a year ago.
"We love going to rink every day," Moir said. "We came back. We didn't have to. It was for us, and I think there's power to that. We're doing this because we love figure skating, because we love ice dancing with each other. It's a crazy thing to say, but that's why.
"We're pretty fortunate to have three runs at (the Olympics). This one just feels more personal."
Their victory was one of three gold medals for Canada, as Kaetlyn Osmond won the women's singles title, and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford climbed from second after the short program to win the pairs.
Skating to music from "Moulin Rouge," Virtue in a sleek backless burgundy dress, Moir in all black, the Canadians scored 199.86 points to top their previous world best of 198.62 they set in winning the world championships last spring.
"We're different athletes, we're different people," Virtue said. "We're just in a different place in how we feel on our skates, and how we feel on the ice. It's nice when that feels like home."
Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje captured silver with 190.01 points, while Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were third with 189.43.
Virtue and Moir, who'd set a world-record score for their short dance the previous night, said records aren't important at this point.
"Our friends and family back home sure think it's pretty impressive. We get a lot of texts about it," Moir said.
"It's validation we're on the right track, which any athlete loves any time," Virtue added.
"I think that world record will get beat a couple of times this year," said Moir. "It's nice to see on the scoreboard, but we know that's going to change."
Canada's ice dance legends impressed the Brandt Centre crowd with their impassioned program that featured a couple of breathtaking lifts. On their rotational lift, Virtue does a front flip into Moir's arms, landing with her legs wrapped around his neck.
"That's pretty impressive, hey?" Moir said. "I like when she goes into that, she's more aggressive than I am to just fly into it."
Skating to a selection of songs by Muse, Duhamel and Radford landed their huge throw quadruple Salchow on the way to 222.22 total points. Germany's Aliiona Savchenko and Bruno Massot won silver (215.66), while Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France captured bronze (214.37).
"Everybody knows the struggles that we went through last year. . . there were times we wondered if we could ever deliver again like we did tonight," Duhamel said. "And I'm sure many people wondered if we could do that too. it's like we had this little string of hope left in us as we came into this season."
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., won back-to-back world titles in 2015 and '16, but are coming off a rocky season that saw them third at the Grand Prix Final and then seventh — Radford was skating with a herniated disc in his back — at the worlds last spring.
"In the last month. . . it's like a laser beam, and this is how we used to feel," Radford said. "And I felt it again today, and I think that's what we needed."
Added Duhamel: "It feels like the old Meagan and Eric."
Skating to the stirring "Black Swan," the 21-year-old Osmond, meanwhile, stumbled out of a triple toe loop then fell on a double Axel late in the program, but scored 212.91 for the victory.
"It's a great starting point, score-wise I'm where I was at the Grand Prix Final last (December), so I'm a couple of months ahead this year, and hopefully it will keep growing," said Osmond, who took a huge seven-point lead into the long program.
Russia's Maria Sotskova scored 192.52 for second, while American Ashley Wagner, who was seventh after the short program, climbed up to bronze with 183.94.
Osmond blamed butterflies for her botched triple flip, triple toe loop combination. She nearly hit the boards on the toe loop, touching a hand down to save herself from falling.
"Just sometimes when I'm nervous I'll push a little harder," she said. "The flip actually took off really big and it covered a lot more distance than I was expecting I guess. So when I landed the toe, the boards were pretty close."
Osmond was just 16 when she launched herself into the international spotlight by winning Skate Canada in 2012 in Windsor, Ont. But the years that followed were fraught with injuries, including the broken leg that required two surgeries to repair that shelved her 2014-15 season, and left her doubting whether she'd ever skate again.
A hamstring injury forced her to withdraw after the short program in 2013, and in 2015 in her first major competition back from her broken leg, she fell into the full splits in the short program, injuring her hip flexor and groin. She struggled to an 11th-place finish.
She capped her arduous comeback with a silver at the world championships last spring, and positioned herself as a medal threat at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
"I'm mostly just really happy with how I skated, but to continue my results from last year, it means a lot to me," Osmond said. "I remember the last Olympic year, Skate Canada (2013) did not go well for me at all. I didn't even make it to the long program. So thinking four years ago to that, and being here and skating two strong programs, it means a lot to me. I feel a lot stronger."
Canada's three-time world champ Patrick Chan had a disastrous night, falling from second place to finish fourth.
Skating to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," the 26-year-old Chan fell on his opening quad jump, and his program unravelled from there. He downgraded four jumps, and touched a hand down on two, en route to finishing with 245.70 points.
"It's important to realize that I've never had a skate like that in a big event," Chan said. "I think it's part of the process and having ownership of your career, and being successful you've got to have days like this.
"Yeah it sucks, but I've had the great highs too."
Japan's Shoma Uno won gold with 301.10, while American Jason Brown was second with 261.14, and Russia's Alexander Samarin won bronze with 250.06.
Skate Canada is the second event of the Grand Prix series, the major tune-up for the Pyeongchang Olympics.