Canadians Virtue and Moir win ice dance at Four Continents

Associated Press

2/12/2012 8:18:22 PM

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- For the first time in almost two years, Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are back on top.

The Olympic champions won the ice dance title at the Four Continents Championships on Sunday, beating rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White for the first time since the 2010 worlds.

The Canadians overcame a .55-point deficit to Davis and White with a score of 111.24 in the free dance for a total of 182.84. The reigning world champions, Davis and White had not lost a competition since that defeat to Virtue and Moir in 2010. The Americans scored 107.25 in the free dance to earn the silver medal with 179.40.

`'We were pleased with our skate today and our week overall," said Virtue, a native of London, Ont. `'We learned to approach our skating better which is something we haven't done since the Olympics. It's skating in unison, getting into that zone and blocking all the distractions.

`'We feel we still have more improvements to make and we are looking forward to returning to sea level and getting back into training," added Moir, who hails from Ilderton, Ont.

Davis and White, who won last year's Four Continents title, were the last pair to skate and needed 110.70 to win.

"Today, I think some of the calls didn't go our way," White said. "Not everything is going to go your way. I could not be prouder of the way we fought through both programs. We really worked through it.

"We wanted to work on expression, and we did that. I felt like our elements were pretty good."

Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, both of Waterloo, Ont., were third at 163.26.

`'It was a really good performance we felt we built upon what we did at nationals," said Poje. `'We've been treating this competition as a stepping stone towards the world championships."

Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., were sixth.

As the first team on the ice for the free skate in the pairs competition earlier Sunday, China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong had a chance to send a message to the other medal contenders.

They did just that.

The two-time junior world champions were stellar in the free skate, earning a season-best 135.08 points for a 201.83 total that would not be eclipsed.

"We feel very excited," Han said. "Maybe tonight we can't sleep. I think later in the program there were a little nerves, but we feel we adjusted to our program. The throws were successful, and we are very pleased.

"This is our first time to win a senior competition, and we are happy and excited."

Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin -- fresh off a title at the 2012 U.S. championships -- had a season-best score of their own with 122.07 points, but settled for second at 185.42.

The American tandem of Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker took bronze with 178.89 points after a season-best 116.47 in the free skate.

Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., climbed from eighth after the short program to fourth overall with 171.76 points just seven points shy from the bronze.

`'We had to dig deep to put it together today," said Duhamel. `'Despite the mistakes, we gave a performance which is what we had lacked in the short program. In that aspect we're happy but we know it can be better."

Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudy Swiegers of Kipling, Sask., were seventh and Jessica Dube of Saint-Cyrille de Wendover, Que., and Sebastien Wolfe of Terrebonne, Que., eighth.

`'The program wasn't what we wanted but it was a great experience," said Lawrence. `'It's great motivation to go back home and keep working hard."

`'It wasn't performance we wanted today but the experience we gained for the world championships will be very valuable," said Wolfe. `'We'll work on what we struggled with here today so we can put down two solid performances at the world championships."

- with files from the The Canadian Press.