Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The youngest ever Olympic figure skating ice dancing champions


Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir danced their way into history on Monday when they became the first North American couple as well as the youngest ever Olympic figure skating ice dancing champions.

The pair from Ontario took gold ahead of Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States as world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia took bronze after the free dance final at the Pacific Coliseum.

The only previous ice dancing medal won by Canada was when Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall too bronze in Calgary 22 years ago.

Competing in their first Olympics, Virtue, 20, and Scott, 22, had the home crowd on their feet after their flawless free skate to Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5.

They finished 5.83 points ahead of their training partners White and Davis, who were also making their Games debut, and skated to Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.

"We've dreamed about this for so long," said Virtue, who had feared her career was over two years ago after surgery on her shins. "It's been quite a journey - a bit rocky.

"There were times when we didn't think we would get back on track and skating again, but this makes the victory even sweeter."

The couple had taken the lead after Sunday's original dance and seemed to make time stand still with their free skate, scoring 110.42 points to give them an overall 221.57.

Davis, 23, and White, 22, showed incredible speed on the ice but got a one-point deduction for exceeding the time limit on one of their lifts.

They scored 107.19 and 215.74 overall.

Moir said: "We have such a special connection with Meryl and Charlie.

"We knew they would be tough competitiors, that they were going to come here and lay it down. We wouldn't be here without them."

Davis said: "It's been a wonderful experience coming to the Olympic Games and to cap it off with a silver medal is so amazing."

"We have dreamt of it for so long and to have it come true is amazing."

Both couples share the same coaches - Russians Marina Zueva and Igor Shpilband - leading Shabalin to comment that the only way to recapture the title Russians have won all but three times since it was introduced in 1976 was "to bring all the Russian coaches back to Russia."

Domnina, 25, and Shabalin, 28, had led after Friday's opening compulsory dance but their controversial Aboriginal-themed original dance backfired and left them trailing going into the final night.

Skating to the theme of 'passion' they finished over eight points behind the winners.

Shabalin said he did not regret their choice of original dance.

"It was a great choice," he said. "We did everything we could. We didn't expect Russian figure skating to go down."

Russia are set to finish without an Olympic gold medal in figure skating for the first time in 50 years.

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