Tessa Virtue

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Tessa Jane McCormick Virtue (born May 17, 1989) is a Canadian ice dancer. With ice dance partner Scott Moir, she is the 2010 Olympic champion, the 2018 Olympic champion, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist, a three-time World champion (2010, 2012, 2017), a three-time Four Continents champion (2008, 2012, 2017), the 2016–17 Grand Prix Final champion, an eight-time Canadian National champion (2008–2010, 2012–2014, 2017–2018), and the 2006 World Junior champion. Virtue and Moir are also the 2018 Olympic gold medalists in the team event and the 2014 Olympic silver medalists in the team event. They are the most decorated Canadian ice dance team of all time and the most decorated Olympic figure skaters of all time.

Virtue and Moir were paired in 1997, at the ages of seven and nine. They are the 2004 Canadian junior champions and became Canada's top ice dance team in 2007. They are the 2008 World silver medalists and the 2009 World bronze medalists and became the first ice dance team to receive a 10.0 for a program component score under the new ISU Judging System. In 2010, they became the first ice dancers from North America to win an Olympic gold medal, ending the 34-year streak of the Europeans. They are the youngest ice dance team ever to win an Olympic title. They were the first ice dancers to win a gold medal in their Olympic debut, and the first ice dance team to win Olympic gold on home ice.

Virtue and Moir continued to be one of the world's top ice dance teams after their first Olympic victory in 2010. They are the 2010 and 2012 World champions, the 2011 and 2013 World silver medallists, and the 2014 Olympic ice dance and team event silver medalists.

After taking a two-season break from the sport, they returned to competition in the fall of 2016 and became the 2017 World champions, having an unprecedented undefeated season. As of 2018, they are five-time Olympic medalists. Virtue and Moir are holders of the world record score for the now-defunct original dance.

Having skated together for over twenty years, Virtue and Moir are the longest-standing ice dance team in Canadian history. Due to their longevity, achievements and versatility on the ice, they are considered by many to be the greatest ice dancers of all time. In 2018, Time magazine noted that "they've become especially beloved by new and returning spectators alike for their passionate performances and undeniable chemistry, on and off the ice".

Personal life

Virtue was born in London, Ontario, Canada. Born to Kate and Jim Virtue, she is the youngest of four children. She attended Holy Names High School in Windsor, Ontario, in addition to an electronic learning school called AMDEC based in Stratford, Ontario. Virtue passed up the opportunity to enter the National Ballet School at age 9 to devote herself to skating. She studied psychology at the University of Windsor in 2007, and as of 2014 was completing her degree at The University of Western Ontario. As a child, Virtue was also trained in gymnastics, track and other sports.

In 2004, Virtue began living in Canton, Michigan, in the US, to train under Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva. After the 2014 Olympics, she moved back to London, Ontario. In 2016, she moved to Montreal, Quebec, where she and Moir were coached by Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon. Virtue and Moir describe their relationship as two "business partners" or as simply platonic. Despite their claims, during and after the 2018 Olympics, their undeniable chemistry both on and off the ice led to the continued Internet speculation of them being a romantic couple.

Career

Early career

Virtue and Scott Moir began skating together in 1997, having been paired by Moir's aunt, Carol Moir, who was coaching them at the time. Early in their career, they trained in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario with Paul MacIntosh and Suzanne Killing.

In the 2001–02 season, Virtue and Moir won the bronze medal at the 2002 Canadian Championships at the novice level. The following season, they placed 7th at the 2003 Canadian Championships in the junior division. In 2004, they moved to Canton, Michigan, and began working with coaches Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena.

2003–04 season: Junior Grand Prix debut

In 2003–04, Virtue and Moir made their ISU Junior Grand Prix debut on the 2003–04 ISU Junior Grand Prix. They placed 4th at the event in Croatia and 6th in Slovakia. At the 2004 Canadian Championships, they won the Junior title, qualifying them for the team to the 2004 World Junior Championships, where they placed 11th.

2004–05 season

The following season, Virtue and Moir moved up to the senior level nationally but remained juniors internationally. On the 2004–05 ISU Junior Grand Prix, they won the event in China and won the silver medal at the event in France, which qualified them for the Junior Grand Prix Final, where they won the silver medal. They made their senior national debut at the 2005 Canadian Championships and placed fourth. They were named to the team to the 2005 World Junior Championships, where they won the silver medal.

2005–06 season: World Junior title and senior international debut

Virtue and Moir remained at the junior level internationally in the 2005–06 season. On the 2005–06 ISU Junior Grand Prix, they won both their events as well as the Junior Grand Prix Final.

At the 2006 Canadian Championships, Virtue and Moir placed 3rd and were named first alternates to the Olympic team. They were named to the team to the 2006 Four Continents, where they won the bronze medal. At the 2006 World Junior Championships, they became the first Canadian ice dancers to win the title. Virtue and Moir are the most decorated junior-level Canadian ice dancers.

2006–07 season: Grand Prix debut

In the 2006–07 season, Virtue and Moir competed solely on the senior level. They made their Grand Prix debut at the 2006 Skate Canada International, where they won the silver medal. They placed 4th at the 2006 Trophée Éric Bompard.

At the 2007 Canadian Championships, Virtue and Moir won the silver medal, and repeated their bronze medal finish at Four Continents. Their debut at the World Championships was the highest debut by any team in over two decades when they placed 6th.

2007–08 season: Four Continents title

Virtue and Moir were assigned to Skate Canada International and the NHK Trophy for the 2007–08 Grand Prix season. They won the 2007 Skate Canada International and placed second at the 2007 NHK Trophy, qualifying them for the Grand Prix Final, where they came in fourth place.

Virtue and Moir won their first Canadian national title at the 2008 Canadian Championships and earned spots for the Four Continents and World Championships. They won the gold medal at the 2008 Four Continents Championships. At the 2008 World Championships in Sweden, Virtue and Moir won the silver medal, winning the free dance segment with their program to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg soundtrack.

2008–09 season

In the 2008–09 season, Virtue and Moir withdrew from both their Grand Prix events due to Virtue's medical condition; she had been diagnosed with chronic exertional compartment syndrome and underwent surgery in October 2008 to alleviate the condition. She returned to the ice at the start of December, which she later said was probably too early. At the 2009 Canadian Championships, they won the gold medal.

At the 2009 Four Continents Championships, Virtue and Moir won the silver medal behind their friends and training partners, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White. At the 2009 World Championships, they won the bronze medal, after placing 3rd in the compulsory dance, 6th in the original dance, and 4th in the free skate.

2009–10 season: Olympic and World titles

Virtue/Moir started off the 2009–10 Olympic season at the 2009 Trophée Éric Bompard, finishing first by a margin of 16.07 points ahead of the silver medalists, Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat. They also won the 2009 Skate Canada International with a combined score of 204.38 points, 19.31 points ahead of Péchalat/Bourzat. At that competition, they received the first 10.0 for ice dance under the ISU Judging System. They were second at the Grand Prix Final behind Davis and White.

In January 2010, Virtue and Moir won their third national title at the 2010 Canadian Championships, placing first in all three segments of the competition and earning 221.95 points overall, which was 37.25 ahead of silver medalists Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier. They set Canadian records for free dance and for combined total.

Virtue and Moir competed in the ice dance competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics from February 19 through 22. They placed second in the compulsory dance, earning a new personal best score of 42.74 points, just 1.02 off the lead. They earned 68.41 points in the original dance, placing first in that segment of the competition. They scored 110.42 points in the free dance and won the gold medal overall with an insurmountable total score of 221.57, surpassing silver medalists Davis and White by 5.83 points. In the free dance, they received four 10.00 marks from the judges in the program components, two for the performance execution and two for interpretation, a feat never before accomplished by a figure skater or team under the International Judging System. They became the first Canadian as well as the first North American ice dance team and the youngest dance team to win the Olympics, and the first ice dance team to win the Olympic gold on home ice. They were also the first ice dancers to win gold in their Olympic debut since the inaugural Olympic ice dance event in 1976.

Virtue/Moir competed at the 2010 World Championships and placed first in the compulsory dance with 44.13 points, improving their previous personal best. They also won the original dance with 70.27 points, a world record under the ISU Judging System. They placed second in the free dance with 110.03 points, 0.46 behind Davis and White. Overall they claimed their first World Championship title scoring 224.43 points, 1.40 ahead of the Americans. They received numerous 10.00 for program components marks in the original dance and in the free dance.

2010–11 season

For the 2010–11 Grand Prix season, Virtue and Moir were assigned to the 2010 Skate Canada International and to the 2010 Trophée Éric Bompard. Virtue underwent surgery in October 2010 to reduce the lingering pain in her shins and calves that is a result of chronic exertional compartment syndrome, leading to their withdrawal from Skate Canada. They also withdrew from the 2011 Canadian Championships because they did not have enough time to train after the surgery.

Virtue/Moir made their season debut at the 2011 Four Continents. They were in the lead following the short dance but withdrew midway through the free dance after Virtue felt tightness in her left quad muscle. Virtue stated, "The issue with my quad was actually coming from my pelvis and my back. [I]t seemed to be stemming from a particular lift we were doing, which was a split lift. Upon returning home to Michigan we changed that lift immediately, so now we do an upside-down position instead of a split." At the 2011 World Championships, they placed second overall by 3.48 points behind the American team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Following the World Championships, Virtue experienced pain in her shins and calves. She decided against another surgery and chose other methods to overcome the problem.

2011–12 season: Second Four Continents and World titles

Virtue/Moir were assigned to two Grand Prix events, 2011 Skate Canada and 2011 Trophée Éric Bompard, having declined a newly introduced option to compete in a third. They announced their music selections in August. The two won their first event of the season, 2011 Finlandia Trophy. They won both their Grand Prix events and qualified for the Grand Prix Final, where they finished second in both segments to win the silver medal. In late December 2011, the ISU acknowledged a scoring error in the free dance; had the scores been correctly calculated (+ 0.5 points), Virtue and Moir would have won that segment. The scores from the Grand Prix Final were left unchanged, however.

Virtue/Moir won their fourth national title in January 2012. In February, they competed at the 2012 Four Continents Championships. After a second place short dance, they rallied in the free dance to win their second Four Continents championships and first since 2008. It was also their first victory over training mates Davis/White since the 2010 World Championships. Virtue and Moir then competed at the 2012 World Championships and won the gold medal, finishing first in both segments ahead of silver medalists Davis and White.

Following Igor Shpilband's dismissal from the Arctic Edge Arena in June 2012, Virtue and Moir decided to remain at the rink with Marina Zueva and ended their collaboration with Shpilband.

2012–13 season

Virtue and Moir withdrew from the 2012 Finlandia Trophy due to a slight muscle strain in Moir's neck. They were assigned to two Grand Prix events, the 2012 Skate Canada International and the 2012 Rostelecom Cup. At Skate Canada, Virtue and Moir won the short dance with a score of 65.09, only 0.01 points ahead of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy. They went on to win the competition with a total score of 169.41, which was 9.35 points ahead of the Italians.

At the Grand Prix Final, Virtue and Moir took the silver medal behind Davis and White. They decided to modify their "The Waltz Goes On" short dance, simplifying the storyline. The two debuted the modified short dance at the 2013 Canadian Championships, earning a score of 79.04. They won their fifth national title with a combined score of 187.19 after their Carmen-themed free dance. Virtue and Moir placed first in the short dance at the 2013 Four Continents Championships. During their free dance, Virtue felt cramping in her legs and paused the performance; they resumed after about three minutes and finished second to Davis and White. Virtue and Moir also finished second to Davis and White at the 2013 World Championships in their hometown of London, Ontario.

2013–14 season: Two Olympic silver medals

Virtue/Moir started their season at the 2013 Finlandia Trophy and won the gold medal. They were assigned to two Grand Prix events for the season, the 2013 Skate Canada International and the 2013 Trophée Éric Bompard, and won both competitions. They finished with a world record score in the Grand Prix Final (190.00) that was beaten minutes later by Davis/White.

During the airing of the 2014 Canadian National Championships on TSN, Virtue and Moir stated that they could be retiring after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. At the Sochi games, they won silver in both the ice dance and team skate events. The second-place finish was coloured by controversy about the coaching and judging. The French sports publication L’Équipe alleged that the US and Russian judges had conspired to ensure gold for Russia in the team event and gold for Americans Davis and White in the ice dance competition. Notably, after the individual short dance event where Virtue and Moir were two points behind Davis and White, the creator of the Finnstep (required pattern dance that season), ice dancer Petri Kokko, spoke out on Twitter to support Virtue and Moir. In addition, coach Marina Zoueva's apparent conflict of interest in coaching both the first- and second-place ice dancers provoked questions about whether she had displayed favouritism to the Americans (especially after she chose to march in the opening ceremony with the US team) and had devoted less coaching time to the Canadians. Although Virtue and Moir later admitted concerns about the coaching, they also congratulated the American pair on their Olympic victory.

Virtue and Moir decided not to compete at the 2014 World Championships.

2016–17 season: Third Four Continents and World titles

On February 20, 2016, Virtue and Moir announced on CBC's Road to the Olympic Games that they planned to return to competition for the 2016–17 figure skating season and that they had moved to Montreal, with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon as their new coaches. Their first assignment back during the 2016–17 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating season was the 2016 Skate Canada International where they won gold with a combined total score of 189.06. In November 2016, they set a new record total score of 195.84 (including a world record short dance mark of 79.47) at the 2016 NHK Trophy competition in Japan. They set the highest scores at a Grand Prix event. Two weeks later, they topped those scores, receiving 80.5 in the short dance and 197.22 total at the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, which they won gold for the first time in their careers.

At the 2017 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in January, Virtue and Moir won their seventh national title with a combined score of 203.45, setting Canadian records in the short dance, free dance, and total points. At the 2017 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in South Korea in February, they won their third title, setting a new personal best in the free dance with 117.20 points and earning 196.95 points overall.

Virtue and Moir broke their own world record short dance score at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki. They received a score of 82.43 and had a huge 5.5-point lead over reigning champions and training partners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. They placed second behind Papadakis/Cizeron in the free dance with Moir tripping. Moir said, "I got back up and Tessa said a really funny joke to me, it automatically put me back on track and I just kept going." Overall they totaled 198.62 points, setting yet another world record and winning their third title as world champions. For the first time in their competitive career, Virtue/Moir were undefeated for an entire season.

2017–18 season: Two Olympic gold medals

For the 2017–2018 season, Virtue and Moir chose The Rolling Stones, the Eagles, and Santana for their short dance, and skated to the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack for their free dance. Virtue and Moir started their season at the Autumn Classic International in September. Their Grand Prix assignments were Skate Canada International and the NHK Trophy, and they won both competitions, scoring 199.86 and 198.64 respectively. At the 2017 Grand Prix Final, Virtue and Moir lost for the first time in a year, finishing second to frequent competitors Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, who had a half-point lead after the short dance.

Virtue and Moir competed at the 2018 Canadian National Championships. They debuted their revamped free dance, adding new choreography and music for a more dramatic performance. There, they captured their 8th national title with a combined score of 209.82, after having a nearly perfect short dance and getting a perfect score on the free dance. After the competition, they changed a "risque" lift in their Moulin Rouge routine that had involved Virtue's legs wrapped around Moir's head. At the Olympics, they performed the modified lift during the team event but went back to the original version for the individual ice dance event.

On January 16, they were named the Canadian flag bearers for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Virtue and Moir won gold as part of Canada's team in the Olympic team event. With their fourth Olympic medal, they tied the record for the most ever won by a figure skater. In the individual event, Virtue and Moir topped their own record score for the short dance, putting them into first place. They then placed second in the free dance and won another Olympic gold. They also broke the world record for overall score, which had been set by Papadakis/Cizeron minutes before. This was Virtue and Moir's fifth Olympic medal, making them the most decorated figure skaters in history.

Other work

In October 2010, Virtue, Moir, and co-writer Steve Milton published a book about their career called Tessa and Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold. In late 2013, they filmed their TV show, Tessa and Scott, which focuses on their training for the Olympics. The show aired on W Network in January 2014.

Virtue and Moir toured with Stars on Ice in Canada and Japan in the offseason since 2010 and during their break from competition. They performed in ice shows such as Festa on Ice, Shall We Dance On Ice, and All That Skate. They also participated in Art on Ice in Switzerland and went on Gold Medal Plate auction trips multiple times.

In 2015, Hillberg & Berk announced their collaboration with Tessa Virtue. In October of the same year, they launched Tessa Virtue collection of jewelry, which she helped design.

In 2017, BonLook announced a glasses collaboration with Virtue. The BonLook X Tessa Virtue collection was launched in January 2018.

Throughout Virtue and Moir's competitive skating career, they have been sponsored by many Canadian companies, including:

  • Visa
  • Air Canada
  • Acura West
  • Lindt
  • General Mills

Tessa Virtue has been individually sponsored by:

  • Adidas
  • Nivea; Virtue is the first Nivea Canadian brand ambassador
  • Colgate
  • MAC Cosmetics

Records and achievements

(with Moir)

Olympics:

  • The most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history
  • The fourth most decorated Canadian Olympians ever
  • The first and only team to take ice dance gold in their Olympic debut
  • The youngest team to ever take ice dance gold at the Olympics
  • The first and only ice dance team to ever win Olympic gold on home ice
  • The first ice dance team from North America to take ice dance Olympic gold, breaking Europe's 34-year streak
  • The first former junior world champions to win Olympic gold in ice dance
  • The first figure skaters in 38 years to win three Olympic golds
  • The second ice dance team to win three Olympic medals in ice dance
  • The second ice dance team to win two individual Olympic gold medals and the first one to do it in nonconsecutive Olympics
  • The first duo to carry the Canadian flag at an Olympic opening ceremony

Record Scores:

  • The first ice dance team to receive a 10.0 for a program component score under the new ISU Judging System.
  • The first team to receive four 10.0s from the judges in any figure skating discipline (under the International Judging System)
  • The first team to break the 80-point mark in the short dance in an international competition (2016–17 Grand Prix Final).
  • Current record holders for the highest technical score in a short dance with 44.53 established at 2018 Winter Olympics
  • Historical record holders for the original dance

In general:

  • The first and only ice dance team to achieve a Career Super Grand Slam under the current ISU judging system. They are the first and only ice dance team to win all major ISU championship titles including the Junior Grand Prix Series and Final, World Junior Championships, Grand Prix Series and Final, Four Continents Championships, World Championships, and Winter Olympic Games
  • The only ice dance team to win world championship titles and Olympic golds under both the old compulsory & original dance system and the new short/rhythm dance system
  • The most decorated Canadian ice dance team ever
  • The longest-standing ice dance team in Canadian history
  • The first and only Canadians to win the Junior Grand Prix Final
  • The first Canadians to win the Junior World Championship
  • The first and only ice dance team to win the World Championship and Grand Prix Final as both seniors and juniors
  • Three-time senior world champions
  • Seven-time senior world medalists
  • Eight-time Canadian senior ice dance champions
  • Ten-time Canadian senior ice dance medalists
  • Highest senior debut at worlds for an ice dance team

List of world record scores set by Virtue/Moir

Awards and honours

  • Virtue and Moir were inducted in London (ON) Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 after winning gold in 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic. It was a somewhat unusual decision because the guidelines for athletes to be considered for induction is retirement from their sport for a period of two years while Virtue and Moir were just at the beginning of their career. Furthermore, the induction event was moved into September that year so as not to interfere with the upcoming skating season.
  • Virtue and Moir were honoured as the Canadian Olympic athletes of the year by CBC in December 2017.
  • In early May 2018, Virtue and Moir were awarded Partnership of the Year, along with pairs skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, at the 45th Sports Québec gala.
  • Following 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic, Tessa Virtue was named one of the most famous female athletes in the world by ESPN. Virtue is the highest placed Canadian female athlete and second highest placed female winter sports athlete.
  • In December 2018, Virtue and Moir were inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in the Sports and Athletics category.

Programs

Post-2018

Pre-2018

Competitive highlights with Moir

GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix

Detailed results

(with Moir)

Post-2006

  • CD = Compulsory dance; OD = Original dance; FD = Free dance.
  • SD = Short dance.
  • Personal bests highlighted in bold.

References

External links

  • Official website
  • Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir at the International Skating Union
  • Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir at Skate Canada