It’s hard to believe that Olympians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir ever had an awkward phase. Watch any of the Canadian ice dancers’ performances and they are perfectly in sync, appearing to move as one. It’s the same off the ice. The world champions – who’ve been skating together since childhood – talk over each other, finish each others sentences and even seem to breathe in unison.
But it wasn’t always that way. “We coined the phrase ‘awkward,’” says Scott, the 26-year-old native of Ilderton, Ontario Adds Tessa, 24, who hails from nearby London, “We’ve gone through everything together. The common bond that always kept us together was skating. So no matter what we were going through off the ice, we always found that connection.”
Such chemistry, coupled with raw talent and ferocious drive, resulted in a first-place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where they became the first North Americans – and youngest team ever – to win gold. It should also hold them in good stead as they step into a new arena: television. The pair co-star in the documentary series Tessa & Scott (Thursdays, W Network), which chronicles their journey to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
From centre ice to centre stage: Ice dancers Tessa and Scott star in a TV series about their quest to find gold in Sochi.
Tessa, you’re used to the spotlight, but what’s
it like to be on camera 24/7?
Different! We’ve grown up with cameras, but that was always for our skating. [Now] we’re letting [people] into our personal lives. So there was a bit of an adjustment. But I think our goal was just to be open books and not have a filter – for good or for bad. [ Laughs]
Scott, did you have to censor yourself?
I’ve been trying to cut back on the swearing, but it hasn’t worked very well! [ Laughs]... My first reaction was to be scared of the project. But once we saw a couple things and we got the vibe of the crew, that helped. It’s just us.
Your chemistry is undeniable. Shall we set the
record straight? Are you dating anyone?
Tessa: There’s no time!
Scott: I have a relationship outside of our sport.
Why do you think romance never blossomed
between you two?
Tessa: We have such great respect for one another and we never crossed those boundaries. I think it’s really helped our skating because we’ve maintained a clear perspective on the benefits of our positive partnership.
Scott: It was hot and heavy when we were seven and nine and then we had to have conversations eventually, and that only happened after we broke up. [ Laughs]
Are you protective of her?
Very! I’ve spent 17 years working with her and she deserves a great guy.
What do you love about each other?
Tessa: There are very few people more energetic than Scott. He brings such a passion to the sport.
[Even though] I know him so well, I sometimes don’t know what he’s going to come up with on the ice and I just love seeing him react to the music. People often comment that he can walk into the rink and completely change the energy – that takes a special kind of person.
Scott: It’s a long list! I love Tessa’s creativity. At the same time, she’s so level headed. She’s like Cool Hand Luke. She’s able to set things aside and come to the solution with a calm head.
What’s your strategy for the Sochi Games, Scott?
It is so hard to repeat an Olympic title and that’s a bit of what has drawn us back. One of our greatest strengths is how we work together. We have to make sure... that when we step on the ice, we’re absolutely together every step.
Do you have any superstitions?
Tessa: I tend to do things in the same order. Left skate first. I have to have my guards at a certain angle on the boards and I have a safety pin on my costume. I have my grandma’s chain and I put it in my right shoe before I leave.
Scott: I usually just make sure that her guards stay in the spot where they are supposed to be! [ Laughs]
What do you want to do after your skating
Tessa: We haven’t confirmed that this will be our last season, but it’s likely our last Olympics. It does make the season all that more special. I think we’re both looking forward to life beyond skating. This has been so all consuming, it will be nice to explore other avenues. I’m just finishing my psychology degree and I’d like to do a master’s program or law school and business stuff and fashion. You never know what doors will open.
Scott: I know I’ll be involved in the sport in some way. I want to give kids the opportunity we had. I want to go back to school as well.
Skating has allowed you to meet so
many high-profile people. Tell us about
your encounter with the Queen at a
state dinner in Toronto in 2010.
Scott: We were supposed to be in the room with the Queen, but two days before [we found out] we’re at the head table [with her].
Tessa: It was nerve-wracking. There’s so much protocol, and we say that if we could go back we’d throw that out the window. She was so lovely and we walked away thinking, “They’re normal people!” And how refreshing. I met Prince William, too, and Kate. You just felt like they had all the time in the world to chat with you. It was really special.