Gangneung (South Korea) (AFP) – Canada’s ice dance star Scott Moir said Monday’s Olympic figure skating team gold was inspired by the sour taste left by their too “casual” approach at Sochi four years ago
Moir with partner Tessa Virtue helped Canada live up to their mantle as favourites with a commanding win over defending champions Russia and the United States for the Winter Games’ heavyweights first gold in South Korea.
Moir and his compatriots came in second best in Sochi, a defeat that the 30-year-old said was irking for “a country born on ice”.
“We weren’t happy with our approach in Sochi, it was too casual,” he said.
“We came home with a sour taste in our mouth, so we set a four year plan, we wanted to win it, we believed in ourselves.”
“Canadians are born on the ice, we think we are best in world… we are proud we took it more seriously, especially against two very good teams.”
They took command on Friday, despite Sochi dual silver medallist Patrick Chan tumbling in his men’s short programme.
Competing in their third Olympics, Virtue and Moir earned a maximum 10 points for their short programme, and matched that in the concluding free with an exhilarating four-and-a-half minute performance to the music of Moulin Rouge.
Canada finished on 73 points, with Russia on 66 and the USA a further four points behind.
This was the first silver of the Pyeongchang Games for Russia, featuring teenage starlets Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova.
– ‘nail it’ –
Chan said “determination” made the difference between Sochi silver and Korean gold.
“We saw the potential we had in Sochi and didn’t capitalise on it. This time we really wanted to nail it into the coffin and win this thing,” he said.
Italy came in fourth with Japan last of the five that went through to the final five segments of the competition held over three days.
While Japan had to make do without defending men’s Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, Canada went into battle with all their stars present.
And they didn’t let them down at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
For Russia, competing in South Korea as Olympic Athletes from Russia after the country’s state-sponsored doping ban, it was always going to be a struggle to recover from Mikhail Kolyada’s flop in the men’s short.
But they gave it a shot, with Medvedeva and Zagitova dominant in both ladies’ sections.
Medvedeva conjured up a world record score in Sunday’s short routine, with Zagitova producing a personal best in her free dance to Don Quixote.
“Today I got my best score, a season’s best and I am pleased with that,” said the 15-year-old after this latest chapter in a remarkable first senior season.
“I was very nervous because I wanted to skate well and I did,” added the freshly-minted European champion.
Training partners under coaches Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov, the teenagers will turn from teammates to foes next week for a mouthwatering women’s title showdown.
As for the men, US quad boy wonder Nathan Chen, rated one of Japanese skating golden boy Hanyu’s main dangers, will be working overtime in training after making mistakes in his short routine.
Hanyu sat out the team competition as he gave his body every chance of being at its best for the defence of his crown after ankle ligament damage threatened to scuttle his Olympic dream last November.
Meanwhile Moir, 30, is already looking to the future, but not his own.
“I will judge our success on the generation that comes after us, if good skaters emerge that will speak volumes to us.”