Virtue, Moir claim Canadian senior dance crown

Canadian duo wins fourth national ice dancing title

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won their fourth national ice dancing crown on Saturday.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won their fourth national ice dancing crown on Saturday. (Getty Images)


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By Laurie Nealin, special to
(01/20/2008) - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir can now say they have won four national ice dance titles after claiming their first senior crown at the 2008 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships on Saturday.

"We are extremely thrilled to be Canadian champions," Moir said. "We're looking to build on this momentum for Four Continents and worlds."

Virtue and Moir easily lapped the field, earning 103.76 points for their romantic charmer of a free dance, set to Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Overall, they earned 209.09 points.

An unusual fall by Andrew Poje as he spun across the ice on one knee in the opening minute could have cost him and his Texas-born partner Kaitlyn Weaver dearly had the couple not immediately regrouped. They fought back with a vengeance, effectively negating the impact of the error, which drew a collective gasp from the Pacific Coliseum crowd.

Still, it wasn't until the scores went up on the board securing their silver medal that the looks of concern on their faces turned to smiles.

Weaver and Poje scored 175.61 points for their three performances, slightly ahead of bronze medalists Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno, who earned 173.86 points.

Still only 18- and 20-years-old, respectively, Virtue and Moir won the Canadian juvenile title in 2000, pre-novice in 2001, and junior in 2004. If they hadn't missed out on gold in 2002 as novice competitors, they would have a complete set.

"We're planning on going back [to novice] to do it," Moir joked.

Virtue and Moir, who finished sixth in the senior worlds debut last season, enchanted the Vancouver audience and the judges with a performance so commanding that their four minutes were done in what seemed like seconds.

Weaver and Poje also entertained the fans in the Pacific Coliseum, the venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, with their steamy Blues routine. Their daring lifts were highlights of the program.

"It's just a fluke thing that happened," Poje said of his tumble. "I've never done that before. I caught an edge, and it sent me flying.... We tried to get back on our game, tried to forget that happened and continue with our program."

Luckily, because the fall wasn't on an element but rather a musical feature, the couple lost fewer points -- one for the fall and some tenths from the component scores -- than they would have had the error occurred on a specified step sequence.

In the latter case, Weaver explained "You would have a minus on the element, then a negative GOE [Grade of Execution], then you have the mandatory [one-point] deduction, so definitely it was a good place [to fall]."

"Rhapsody in Blue" was the musical choice of Hann-McCurdy and Coreno. Their light and playful program proved to be an excellent vehicle to highlight their speed and flow across the ice and their rapid rotational lifts. Obviously pleased with their performance, the couple exchanged high-fives at the end of their four-minute routine.

All three medalists are expected to be named to the world team to fill Canada's quota for the 2008 championships in Sweden. That announcement will be made on Sunday.

Virtue and Moir are determined to land on the podium in Sweden as they build towards their bid for gold in 2010.

Weaver and Poje were bronze medalists nationally and at the junior worlds last season, and they finished 20th at the senior world championships. They train with Canadian ice dance icon Shae-Lynn Bourne and Weaver's earlier coach Mathew Gates.

Victor Kraatz, who earned a record 10 Canadian titles with Bourne, is coach of Hann-McCurdy and Coreno, who were just eighth in this event a year ago.

Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, the reigning champions with five national titles to their credit, have taken a sabbatical from competition this season and have not decided whether they will return to competition in the future.

American Kevin O'Keefe and his new partner Siobhan Karam finished sixth, just one shy of earning membership on Canada's national team. Their dramatic performance, set to Hunchback of Notre Dame themes, belied the fact they have only been together since last May.

Augie Hill, the second American man making his Canadian debut this week, settled for eighth place overall with his partner Lauren Senft.