Virtue and Moir: Londoners welcome home Olympic champions with wide open arms
Credit: MELISSA NOVACASKA (all photos)
Olympic ice dancing gold medalists and hometown heroes, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, were greet by over a hundred fans, both young and old, as the duo made their way back to London following the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games.
The hometown heroes, who landed in Toronto and then to London on Feb. 26, were welcomed back to the Forest City by a crowd of over a hundred people, both young and old, all eager to chat with the Olympic medalists and try and get a photo or two with the dynamic duo.
Virtue and Moir, who were chosen as the opening ceremonies Canadian flag bearers, won two gold medals during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics (one for Canada's figure skating team event and one for their individual event), making them the most decorated Olympic figure skaters in history, with a total of five medals.
This was the third consecutive Olympic Winter Games for Virtue and Moir and on top of their two gold medals from these Games, have a gold medal from the Vancouver 2010 Games and two silver medals during Sochi's 2014 Games.
Though the duo, who've been skating together for roughly 20 years came to greet fans around 7 p.m., some had arrived almost two hours earlier and crowded in the small baggage claim area to snag their coveted spot to have the best shot of getting Virtue and Moir's attention.
Though many fans were from London, Ilderton and nearby towns, some from Windsor made the trek and a lucky fan from Ottawa who was visiting her sister and whose birthday was on the 26th, came to greet the skating duo.
Many young fans were also in attendance, holding handmade signs, while some people brought skates to be signed. The crowd was a sea of red and white and was loud and proud to have Virtue and Moir back home, even erupting in singing ‘O Canada' and a “Go Canada Go” chant showing their pride and admiration for the duo.
Before meeting the crowd, Virtue and Moir spoke with media during a friendly scrum and though they just came off of a 24 hour travel day, with smiles on their faces, they showed only a few signs of tiresome.
“I'm sure [jet lag] will hit us later, but that's the least of our worries. It's just remarkable to be here and see everyone,” Virtue said. “What a warm welcome to come home to and we felt this love and support when we were over there in Korea. We knew we weren't alone on the ice and to get home and see everyone and share in the celebration, it's really special.”
Moir shared a similar sentiment. “We've been thinking about this moment, being back home since we won, so to bring the gold medals back, it's feeling unbelievable,” Moir said. “We haven't come down off of cloud nine, is what we've kept saying and even though we haven't slept in probably three or four days, we don't need it anymore.”
The duo spent almost an hour or so meeting fans, taking photos and signing autographs on shirts, paper and skates and though the two know their communities have their backs, they didn't expect such a large turnout to greet them home.
“We didn't know what to expect, but this community's always really supported us through our whole career and we've relied on them, so it is crazy to see the amount of people that came tonight and obviously it's been over a week (since the win), but [fans are] still living the Olympics, which is so much fun for us,” Moir said.
Though they are still on a high from the Winter Games, with Virtue jokingly asking if the duo needs to eventually come off of it, she shared that the two will spend downtime celebrating with their families and have some “quiet moments” with them since they haven't been able to be back in town since re-locating to Montreal two years ago to train with former Canadian ice dance champions Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
Moir described what it was like having Dubreuil and Lauzon with them during these Olympic Games.
“It's interesting, they're our new coaches obviously, but they've had their Olympic moment in 2006 that didn't end the way that they wanted it to and it's been great to kind of reflect on that and kind of build our own Olympic moment together and part of this two year plan to come back was made very special with them, because they started that whole idea and we started working with them and started to fall in love with the sport again. We enjoyed every minute of working with those two so we're so happy that they were there with us, obviously sitting in the kiss and cry and sharing the moment,” Moir said.
With the Olympics still on their brain, Moir said it's been a “struggle” to find a word to best describe their experience of the Games this time around.
“It was different than any of our other Olympics, but what surprised us was how none of the magic had worn off. If anything it's more, you feel more patriotic and I think we understand a little bit more what it means to represent Canada, wear the flag on our back and it was special month for Tessa and I, just being a part of that team again was our whole goal and to be able to have the four skates kind of, of our lives and bring home two Olympics golds for this country and for our communities, it's pretty huge,” Moir said.
According to Virtue, it's hard to phrase these Olympic Games as more “special” than the previous two, but rather they are a culmination and 20 years worth of the two working together.
“It couldn't have gone any better for us, I mean with carrying the flag, having the individual medal and the team event, sharing that with our friends and we're so proud of our performances, but I think that's mostly a testament to our team, having prepared us the way they did. I think the best feeling was really taking the ice knowing that we had done everything possible to prepare for those moments and as an athlete, that's all you can ask for,” Virtue said.
In what is most likely the duo's last Olympic Winter Games, the pair are not done performing.
Right now, besides being with family, the two will get set to head off to Japan and across Canada for the Stars on Ice Tour in the very near future, making a stop in London on May 6.
“We'll stay busy and we'll stay on the ice performing, but in a different capacity which is exciting,” Virtue said.
Moir said there have been “a lot” of questions about the pair's future, which still needs to be figured out.
“Tessa and I are lucky in figure skating that we get to go on tour now and do the Stars on Ice Tour,” Moir said. “We're excited about that because we love skating together, we love working together so to be able to do that maybe without the pressure of the judges and making sure that every point counts, I think that will be liberating a little bit right now for us, so we're looking forward to that. That's kind of the next chapter for us and then we have to kind of see what the future holds.”