By Pritha Sarkar
HELSINKI (Reuters) – The last time Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue turned up at a major global competition, they poured their hearts out about how being in a coach-share situation with their main ice dance rivals left them feeling rather neglected.
So the Canadians would never enter into such an agreement again, right?
While it may come as no surprise that they chose to cut ties with Russian-born coach Marina Zoueva, who had guided Virtue and Moir to the 2010 Olympic title before repeating the feat four years later with Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, what is surprising is the camp they defected to.
Back after a two-season hiatus, they are now coached by former Canadian ice dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, who also happen to be the guiding force behind current world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.
Having accused Zoueva of “not being in our corner” during the run-up to the Sochi Games, where Virtue and Moir ended up with silver, should they not have known better than entering another crowded coaching school bursting with star pupils?
Moir said the passage of time has shown him that the pros of training with their number one rivals far outweigh the cons.
“We are very lucky we train beside Gabby and Guillaume but it is a different situation,” Moir said as he prepared to return to a world championships arena for the first time since 2013.
“There are times in the rink when we really miss training with Meryl and Charlie. We had a great rivalry and looking back with hindsight and seeing how much we pushed each other.
“Even though we did not come up the ranks with Gabby and Guillaume, it’s very similar.”
During the 2010-2014 Olympic cycle, Virtue and Moir tossed major titles back and forth with Davis and White until the Americans embarked on a 22-month winning streak which culminated with the Sochi triumph.
That competition drew a line under the rivalry as Davis and White called time on their skating career, while Virtue and Moir realized they were not done with the sport.
That hunger has carried them to six straight titles since they made their comeback at the start of the season and they credited the training set up with Papadakis and Cizeron for the success.
“It’s motivating to watch younger teams excel,” added Moir, who will be targeting a third successive Olympic medal in Pyeongchang next February.
“They’re extremely talented. It does push you. You are always trying to figure out little things. We watch figure skating with a much more positive spin on it.”
Virtue, who won the last of her two world titles in 2012, added: “We feel like we’re right back in our element and it feels like this is where we should be.
“The competitive spirit never left. It also feels fresh and invigorating and a lot of that has to do with our new team and new training location in Montreal.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ian Ransom)