They were the cute kids, the crowd favourites—so small that Virtue could lift Moir during performances, says Ryan Pyette, a reporter with the who’s been covering them since they were kids.By the time they were teenagers, the pair were packing 9,000 fans into the London rink—“like Gretzky,” says Pyette.
“They had it down pat—just as we turned the last corner they’d wake up,” adds Alma.
By then, they’d become best friends “without knowing it,” says Jim, and would get rattled when the other was hurt, or away.
He was also a dynamic dancer at a young age—“rare for boys,” says Mac Intosh.
Virtue had grace from years of dancing (in fact, she turned down a spot with the National Ballet of Canada to focus on skating).
“And for the longest time before that they didn’t even know what was wrong with her.” Yes, it’s been quite the ride for Canada’s golden duo, the youngest ice dance gold medallists in history, and the first North Americans to win the event in its 30-year Olympic history.
It makes their victory, following a near-flawless skate on Monday, even more remarkable.Her coaches, who held weekly conference calls with her doctor and physiotherapist, had to be careful not to push too hard.Virtue and Moir’s return to the competitive circuit began in Vancouver, a year ago this month, at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships at the Pacific Coliseum, the Olympic figure skating venue.As painful as that event was for Virtue—who was hustled to the medic for treatment after every skate—it was a triumph for the pair. And in every competition since, they’ve gotten better, says Skate Canada CEO William Thompson. Not only did they return; they’re stronger than ever.” The pair started skating together 13 years ago, when Virtue was seven, and Moir, nine—a remarkable run for the sport, where partnerships are forever being made and unmade by coaches on the hunt for the perfect pairing.Moir, the son of a chemical plant employee and a figure skating coach, grew up in a house backing onto the local rink—a squat blue building on the town’s main strip—in tiny Ilderton, just north of London, Ont.“And when it was their turn, all the skaters and coaches sat back and just watched them.” Carol, who’d long since realized she had something special on her hands, had turned them over to Paul Mac Intosh and Suzanne Killing of the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club.