Last we saw Scott Moir in top-level international competition, he smooched the Olympic rings for a second straight Winter Games.
Turns out it wasn’t a kiss goodbye.
Moir and partner Tessa Virtue make their Grand Prix series return this weekend at Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, after two full seasons away from competition.
The Canadian ice dancers won Olympic gold at Vancouver 2010 — when Moir said he “french-kissed” the Pacific Coliseum ice rings — and silver in 2014 behind American training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White. (Davis and White also took a post-Sochi break and remain sidelined but not retired)
Virtue and Moir, who have been performing in ice shows the last two years, reportedly decided in July 2015 to come back but kept it silent until last February. Moir said they wanted one more shot at an Olympics, but he had to lose his “beer gut” first.
They officially returned at a lower-level event in Canada four weeks ago, easily winning with the highest-scoring short dance of their career (in international competition) and the highest total score in the world this season.
“There’s a little bit of rust,” Moir told media then. “Nerves, a lot of tension and a lot of pressure that comes with this quote-unquote comeback.”
The attention will only increase.
Virtue and Moir face a field this week that includes Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who earned medals at the last two world championships, and Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, the 2014 World champions.
A sixth Skate Canada title would set them up for a showdown with two-time reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France in their next Grand Prix start at NHK Trophy on Thanksgiving weekend. The two couples happen to train together in Montreal.
“I think we have to earn that term to be associated as rivals to Gabriella and Guillaume, we are not quite there yet for sure, but they have taken the ice dance world to an entirely different level in the last few years,” Virtue said, according to the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Also at Skate Canada, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and three-time world champion Patrick Chan duel for a second straight year. Chan upset Hanyu last season in Chan’s first Grand Prix since he took silver behind Hanyu at the Sochi Olympics.
Chan was not as smooth the rest of his comeback season, placing fourth at the Grand Prix Final and fifth at the world championships. Hanyu dominated after his Skate Canada defeat until being upset by Spanish training partner Javier Fernandez at a second straight world championships.
In lower-level events earlier this fall, Chan took second to 17-year-old American Nathan Chen, while Hanyu became the first skater to land a quadruple loop in competition en route to a victory.
The last two women’s world champions face off at Skate Canada in Russians Yevgenia Medvedeva and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.
Medvedeva, 16, hasn’t lost in nearly one year, winning her early-season event, the free-skate-only Japan Open, over the rest of the top five from last season’s worlds.
Tuktamysheva won the 2015 World title in the most dominating performance outside of Yuna Kim‘s heyday. She landed a triple Axel en route to that gold and talked of adding a quadruple jump for 2015-16.
But she struggled last season, failing to qualify for the Grand Prix Final and placing eighth at the Russian Championships. This fall, she placed second and fourth in lower-level events, keeping her firmly behind Medvedeva in the Russian pecking order.
In pairs, world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford go for their third straight Skate Canada title. Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier can all but clinch a Grand Prix Final berth if they match their runner-up finish from Skate America last week.
Skate Canada broadcast schedule (all times Eastern):
|Friday||Women’s short program||2:57 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Pairs short program||4:48 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Short dance||7:30 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Men’s short program||9:08 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Women’s, men’s short programs||midnight-2 a.m.||UniHD|
|Saturday||Women’s free skate||2:27 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Pairs free skate||4:34 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Men’s free skate||6:57 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Free dance||9:15 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Sunday||Free skates||midnight-3 a.m.||UniHD|
|Sunday||Women’s free skate||5-6 p.m.||NBC, NBC Sports app|
|Monday||Women’s free skate (re-air)||8-9 p.m.||UniHD|
Key skater short program times (Friday ET):
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva — 3:23 p.m.
Mirai Nagasu — 3:30 p.m.
Satoko Miyahara — 4:10 p.m.
Yevgenia Medvedeva — 4:23 p.m.
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford — 5:02 p.m.
Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier — 5:35 p.m.
Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 7:36 p.m.
Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte — 8:02 p.m.
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir — 8:22 p.m.
Patrick Chan — 9:41 p.m.
Yuzuru Hanyu — 9:48 p.m.