Sometimes you just don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
At the world championships in Tokyo later this month, there will be no deft footwork from three-time world champion Patrick Chan, no marvel of body movement and glide from 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
Their seasons have sputtered to an end. They want to take a moment away from the pressures of an Olympic Games, and celebrate their silver medals with skating fans, particularly ones at home in Canada. There will be some stopping and smelling of roses. And time to think of the future.
For his part, Chan feels there is another world championship in him. (Just not this one.) He has no idea if he can do another Olympics. It’s a long way off.
Virtue and Moir haven’t decided anything about their futures, meaning that they don’t know if they have the fire to continue on. Or if they don’t. They chat with each other in coming weeks to find the answer. They’ve been home for only a week. Moir has a cough and his voice sounds as if it’s coming from a hollow room.
They will all spend the next couple of months preparing for a Stars on Ice tour and while on it, pondering what’s after that. Virtue and Moir will start their Stars on Ice tour in Japan, then come home for shows in 12 cities across Canada in late April and early May.
The 2014 Olympic silver medalists in dance will look to work with new choreographers and new ideas, after expressing disappointment about their long-time relationship with coach/choreographer Marina Zoueva, who neither marched in the opening ceremonies with the Canadian team, (opting for the American colours with archrivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White) nor attended the Canadian championships, which were at the same time as the U.S. championships.
There was no fallout from their very frank press conference. “I think some of the things we were honest about at that press conference [in Sochi] would come as no surprise to Marina,” said Virtue. “She was very aware of the situation. Any awkwardness that we feel now, we’ve been feeling for a little while anyway.”
Immediately after the closing ceremonies, the top two dance teams travelled to Moscow and did two skating shows. With the pressure of competing against each other off, Virtue and Moir and Davis and White spent time with each other in a ‘carefree, friendly environment,” Virtue said. They talked about their experiences. Virtue said they probably talked more in one day than they had over the past two years. “That was a nice way to end that chapter with them,” Virtue said.
For the next phase of their career, Virtue and Moir will be on the road, without the need or the possibility of having a home base and a coach. “But we are looking forward to working with some new personalities,” Moir said. “It’s a good time for us to branch out and work with some different choreographers. We really want to push ourselves, and challenge ourselves with new material.” Over the next couple of weeks, they will throw together two new show programs, and then rely on other people for feedback.
Chan is on the Stars on Ice tour, too, although it is only his second year on the tour, while it is probably the fourth year for Virtue and Moir. It wasn’t that hard for him to shift his focus to a skating tour, and away from a world championship.
Chan said he had to be realistic and asked himself if he could really see himself going back into intense training for the world championships at this point. He couldn’t. For him, it would have been going to World Team Trophy after a world championship, when he was skate weary. And he doesn’t have a good track record at events like that. “I know that I don’t skate well when I’m not fully involved and fully attentive and wanting to be there,” he said. “That’s just how I skate. So I knew it would be smart to just let this one go and look at the ones in the future.”
He admits that he still feels a pang in his heart when he sees the gold medals of others. At an Royal Bank reception, he brushed up against Caroline Ouellette, captain of the women’s hockey team then the two Canadian curling teams that won gold. “A gold medal is really nice and I definitely get a spell of jealousy,” he admitted.
But he works his mind to get around it. Figure skating is different from those team sports, he says. In figure skating, he’s out on the ice, all alone, bearing all the brunt of the pressure. “These silver medals were not easy to get,” he said. “They’re probably just as hard as a gold medal. Just one or two mistakes too much and that moment, it came out of my grasp.”
His challenge? To stay positive and look at the brighter side, that being he never believed that, as a figure skater, he could come home with two Olympic medals, and not just one. And he remains the only men’s singles skater who has done it.
Now it’s time to take a breath for all of them. The world championship will miss them. Virtue and Moir say they’ve left the dance competition in good hands.