February 7, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 10 months ago

Virtue and Moir eager for Olympic ice time at final Games

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have arrived in Pyeongchang for their third and final Winter Olympics more prepared than ever, having fine-tuned their programs after a stinging loss to arguably their biggest rivals.

FILE PHOTO: Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir react while being named Canada's flag-bearers for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games during an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The 2010 Olympic champions were defeated by France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron at the Grand Prix Final last December, finishing 2.3 points behind them to take silver.

The uncharacteristic loss propelled Virtue and Moir, who will be Canada’s flag bearers at the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday, into introspection. The three-time world champions carefully assessed their programs to see what had gone wrong and what could be improved.

“We came home and threw a lot at our coaches of things that we wanted to change and they answered the call,” Moir, 30, told reporters after practicing at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday.

“We came up with great solutions to fix probably both programs and pretty drastically before nationals, and then a couple little tweaks here before the Olympics.”

Virtue, 28, said they were now focused on ways to improve their transitions to make their short and free dance seem more fluid and seamless.

The focus, she said, had shifted from trying to rack up points to eliminating any possible deductions.

OLYMPIC ICE

Virtue and Moir, who became the first ice dancers to win gold on their Olympic debut, retired after winning silver in the ice dance and team events at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

But the lure of competition brought them back in the 2016-17 season.

Now, at what will be their final Games, they want to make the most of their last time on Olympic ice.

“For them it’s their last Olympics and they love to compete at Olympics,” coach Marie-France Dubreuil told reporters on Wednesday.

“So as much as you can be on the ice and compete, you know, it’s the last one. They want to be on the ice as much as they can.”

Virtue and Moir are keen to represent Canada in the team event that begins on Friday, if nothing more than to gain more time on the ice.

“This is exciting to go the worlds and win, but everything we’ve done in the last two years have been for the Olympics,” Moir said. “If they let us skate 10 times, we would. To be on Olympic ice is so special.”

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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