Zoueva ready to gatecrash Russian party

Wed Feb 5, 2014 2:12pm EST
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By Pritha Sarkar

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - When Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir struck gold at the Vancouver Olympics, their Russian coach Marina Zoueva was spotted gleefully slipping into a Maple Leaf team jacket as she hailed the success of her Canadian pupils.

Four years later, Zoueva returns to her homeland ready to spoil the Russian party at the Sochi Games.

In 2010, Zoueva was instrumental in helping Virtue and Moir perfect their haunting free dance to Mahler's Fifth Symphony, which captivated a nation and sealed the duo a place in Canada's Olympic annals.

While Canada toasted its first ice dance champions, for Zoueva it was a double celebration as she enjoyed a 1-2 finish with American silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, also graduates of her skating school.

In the four years since Vancouver, Zoueva has enjoyed unprecedented success as the two North American couples have hot-footed their way to the top two prizes at every major event they have contested.

The 57-year-old's achievements are remarkable considering that during her competitive days in the 1970s, her movements around the ice failed to set pulses racing. But what she lacked as a competitor she has more than made up as a coach.

In the ice dancing world, she has no equal and is known as the coach with the Midas touch.

It is why Virtue and Moir and Davis and White are willing to stick with her despite their intense rivalry on the ice.   Continued...

Canada's Tessa Virtue (C) and Scott Moir (R) celebrate with their coach Marina Zoueva following their Senior Dance Free Dance routine at the 2010 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, January 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch