Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir take back gold, Shibutanis continue U.S. dance tradition with bronze
Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won ice dance gold on Monday, making them the most decorated Olympic figure skaters in history. They won two golds in PyeongChang, including the team event, two silvers in Sochi four years ago, plus ice dance gold on home ice in Vancouver.
“Amazing,” Virtue said. “It was a special moment to come out last. It was a strong last group, there was a lot of pressure, but I'm so happy with how we performed.”
Virtue and Moir set a short dance record score on Sunday, and set another high score in free dance and overall points to earn back their Olympic crown. Their character-driven, passionate performance to “Moulin Rouge!” even has an endorsement from the film’s director, Baz Luhrmann.
In their Olympic debut, two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France came away with a silver medal. (They actually won the free skate and set a new record score at 123.35 points.) Papadakis and Cizeron fought through a wardrobe malfunction in the short dance to hold onto their silver medal position. It’s the first Olympic ice dance medal for France since 2002. The French duo skated to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” to showcase their lyrical, flowing and contemporary style.
“We’ve worked for a very long time,” Cizeron said, while they both agreed it was an amazing and near-perfect performance. “We’ve been skating together for 13 years. It’s not only for that moment, but it’s special to look back and see how all the work leads to where we are right now. It’s a really warm feeling.”
It’s the third Olympic Games in a row where the gold and silver ice dance medalists share a coach. In both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, the same coach (Marina Zoueva) trained the gold and silver medalists, but the bronze went to another team. In PyeongChang, both Virtue/Moir and Papadakis/Cizeron train in Montreal under Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
Brother-sister ice dance team Maia and Alex Shibutani continued the tradition of U.S. ice dance medals at the Games by earning their second bronze in PyeongChang. They contributed both the short and free dances of the team event to help the U.S. contingent to bronze. Their free dance, set to “Paradise” by Coldplay, is the third installment of their Trilogy concept; they say it’s the most personal story they’ve ever displayed on the ice.
“I was really proud of how we skated today,” Alex said, adding that it feels like gold. “We knew that regardless of what the result was going to be we did everything that we could and have no regrets. We are really proud of each other and the result was amazing.”
The “Shib Sibs” are the first brother-sister ice dance team to win a figure skating medal at the Olympics since France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay took silver in 1992.
This bronze builds on a trend started in 2006, when Tanith Belbin (now White) and Ben Agosto took home the first ice dance medal for the U.S. in 30 years. Meryl Davis and Charlie White captured silver in 2010 and in 2014 were the first U.S. ice dance team to win gold at the Olympics.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue made the Olympic debut in PyeongChang and fell from third after the short dance to fourth overall after a few minor deductions in their free dance. Hubbell and Donohue won their first national title a month ago. This time last year, Hubbell and Donohue were competing in PyeongChang for another event and heard Beth Hart’s “Caught Out in the Rain” for the first time when it came up on a playlist – the idea for their free dance was born.
The third U.S. team in the field, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, finished ninth in their second Olympic appearance together. They scored 100.13 in the free dance and 175.58 points overall. They uncharacteristically got caught up in each other’s skates during a difficult entry into a combination spin and tripped, costing themselves a two-point deduction.
“I knew it was over,” Chock said after an emotional moment on the ice when the music ended. “I knew there was no shot. After working so hard all this season, and going through so much and trying to stay healthy and then just losing it at a crucial moment, it was really, really heartbreaking.”
Bates is a three-time Olympian (he competed in 2010 with another partner) and was voted captain by the rest of his U.S. teammates.
“It happened so quickly, honestly,” added Bates. “I don't exactly know what happened. But one second we were skating fluidly and really well and the next second, in a flash, I was scrambling to get to my feet. Those things can happen. Obviously, we wish we would have skated better. We were capable of doing so much more, but these things just happen sometimes.
“We’re pretty disappointed. We know how critical it is to be mistake-free. It took us by surprise. It was really unfortunate.”
Chock told media after the short dance she has been managing ankle pain all season. She happened to aggravate the osteochondral lesion in her right foot during the short dance warm-up.
“It is a fancy word for a piece of loose bone fragment in the joint, where the top bone meets the foot bone in the ankle,” Chock explained. “But I have been managing it well all season and that just give it a little shock.”
This is the first time in Olympic ice dance history that a team from Russia (or the Olympic Athletes from Russia, the Soviet Union, or the Unified Team) have failed to make a podium. The top OAR team in PyeongChang, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev, finished fifth.
Catch in-depth analysis of the ice dance event from Kristi Yamaguchi, Ben Agosto and Charlie White.