Virtue, Moir honour Prince
TORONTO – The tribute that Canadian ice dance stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir put together in honour of Prince certainly hit the right chord at Skate Canada International on Friday night.
Competing in their first Grand Prix event in two seasons, Virtue and Moir brought the Mississauga Hershey Centre crowd to their feet after performing a Prince-inspired short program. Skating to parts of three songs composed by the late singer-songwriter – “Kiss,” “Five Women” and “Purple Rain” – the three-time world champions and 2010 Olympic gold medallists earned a first-place score of 77.23, missing their all time best mark by only .49.
“It just felt right,” said Virtue. “We thrive in this competitive atmosphere and it just feels like we’re where we should be.”
The popular ice dance duo took two years off from competitive skating following their second-place showing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and are gearing up for a run at the title at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Sitting in second after Friday’s short is Madison Chock and Evan Bates (76.21) of the U.S. followed by Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (72.12) of Canada.
Three-time world men’s singles champion Patrick Chan of Toronto fell on a triple Axel, but nailed his opening quad toe-triple toe combo and also a triple Lutz, to earn a score of 90.56 in his Beatles-inspired short. Chan, 25, is in first heading into Saturday’s long. Defending Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan failed to land his opening quad loop cleanly (taking a knee) and also didn’t finish the second half of a planned quad Salchow-triple toe combo. Hanyu, 21, is in fourth (79.65). His countryman Takahito Mura is second (81.24) while Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C. is third (80.57) after completing a program that included a quad Salchow-triple toe combo, a second quad toe and a triple Axel.
Defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of the St. Leonard (Que.) skating club, recorded a personal best score in the short (78.39) to move into first in the pairs competition. In second are Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang of China (69.43) with a second Canadian pair, Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch third (67.53).