Ice Network

Moir says Zoueva sometimes 'wasn't in our corner'

Canadian ice dancer talks about trying season he and Tessa Virtue had
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Scott Moir says things weren't always rosy between him and Tessa Virtue and their coach, Marina Zoueva. -Getty Images

One day after coming up short in their bid to defend their Olympic ice dancing gold medal, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir admitted the pressure cooker of training under the same roof, with the same coach, as their top rivals was, at times, too much.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold Monday night at the Iceberg Skating Palace, while Virtue and Moir took the silver. Both teams train with Marina Zoueva in suburban Detroit, and the arrangement of having the top two teams practicing day in and day out -- with both trying to attain the same goal -- garnered plenty of media attention leading up to these Olympic Winter Games.

All four skaters have been asked about the situation repeatedly. For the most part, they have contended that they were rivals, albeit fairly cordial ones, and did not let on about any difficulties related to having to share their coach's services.

But at a press conference Tuesday in Sochi, Virtue and Moir opened about some of the problems they had with the situation, most notably with Zoueva's allegiances. 

"It's an interesting process, for sure," Moir said. "Obviously, she coaches both teams, and it was kind of delicate, but we weren't going to let anything get in the way of our goals. We went to Marina on countless occasions and told her we weren't happy. We wouldn't be happy with the silver medal.

"I take my hat off to Tessa," Moir added. "She does a good job of being blunt in certain circumstances when necessary."

What really seemed to bother the Canadians was that Zoueva was not at their side for their national championships. That event overlapped with the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and Zoueva chose to travel to Boston to work with Davis and White, as well as the American team of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.

"We sometimes felt like [Zoueva] wasn't in our corner," Moir said. "We had some odd things happen this year. We expected Marina to be on our team and work with us like in Vancouver."

Four years ago, Zoueva guided Virtue and Moir to Canada's first Olympic gold medal in ice dance. Zoueva is a Russian and Canadian citizen, having moved from Russia to Ottawa in 1991. She started working with both teams in the Detroit area in 2006.

Although the teams have been training with their eyes on the same prize, the arrangement with Zoueva seemed to work because the teams have contrasting skating styles and Zoueva was able to work her creative magic to craft programs that highlighted each couple's strengths.

Davis and White have been known for their tremendous speed and unison, and their Scheherazade, a Russian-composed classical program, received rave reviews this season. Virtue and Moir are known for their strong connection on the ice, and Zoeuva choreographed a routine that highlighted the emotional ups and downs of their lengthy career.

Moir said they could sense the tide was turning against their style of skating at competitions; in fact, Davis and White had beaten them in their last four head-to-head meetings leading up to Sochi, including at the 2013 World Championships in London, Ontario, the hometown of both Virtue and Moir.

Virtue and Moir said they spoke to Zoueva about making changes to their routine, with hopes of improving their impressions on the judges.

"She listened to us," Moir said. "But she's an artist as well, and she wanted to stay true to her vision."

Moir said his mother, a skating coach, tried to remind him that being in Zoueva's situation was not an easy one.

"She can't win no matter what," Moir said and then laughed. "Well, she can win. But you always have an angry set of parents and an angry set of skaters."

Virtue and Moir, who now own three Olympic medals -- a gold from 2010, a silver in the ice dance event in Sochi and a second silver from the team event -- would not confirm if these Olympics marked their swan song.

"We don't have a clue," Moir said. "Stars on Ice for sure."

When told of Moir's comments, Zoueva had little to say.

"I'm fine. It's OK," she said. "I made them first, and now they are second. It's OK, really."