TUESDAY OLYMPIC REPEATS Ice dance gold medallists Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir hold up the Canadian flag during victory ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

TUESDAY OLYMPIC REPEATS Ice dance gold medallists Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir hold up the Canadian flag during victory ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Ice dance star Tessa Virtue happily out of her comfort zone in Queens MBA program

Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the pandemic

Tessa Virtue doesn’t feel the same sense of exhilaration or rush of adrenaline as she did standing at centre-ice after a gold-medal performance.

At least not on that scale or of that magnitude. And that’s okay.

“There are so many things that are making me really content and joyful that were just impossible to experience as an athlete in training,” Virtue said. “So, there’s sort of something offsetting that where I might not be getting that adrenaline rush, there’s so much that I feel passionate about and new goals that I’m striving for – which is both scary and exhilarating.”

Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada on Friday. They’re the most decorated ice dancers in history, capturing five Olympic medals, including a pair of ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018.

Virtue is swamped with school work these days as part of Queens University’s Executive MBA program – one of the new pursuits that’s pushed her out of her comfort zone.

She’s typed out frantic text messages to retired Paralympic swimmer Ben Huot – who graduated from Queens’ EMBA program – saying, “Have I made a mistake? What am I doing?” she laughed. “(Huot) been so wonderfully supportive.

“But I am so happy I did it. And it’s an extraordinary cohort, everyone is so impressive and has accomplished such wonderful things and in such diverse spheres, and so the conversations are so exhilarating, and especially right now, I’m so grateful to have the chance to sort of expand my mind.”

Virtue spent the first few months of the pandemic living in North Vancouver with boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly. The power couple joined Arkells frontman on an Instagram live stream back in March. They appeared virtually on the Great Kitchen Party: Home Edition a month later.

The couple is back living in Toronto now, and recently purchased a puppy they named Zoe.

Virtue and Moir’s captivating free dance to music from “Moulin Rouge” in Pyeongchang will endure as one of the greatest Olympic figure skating performances ever. Just one of the numerous YouTube streams has over 1.3 million views.

But Virtue has barely watched it.

“I’ve seen parts of it here and there. And I love the feeling that it evokes in me,” she said. “I’m still so proud of that moment of course. But I can’t decide if it feels like it was yesterday or honestly if I feel just a few lifetimes away from it. So, it’s like that disconnect, right, where I kind of hold onto the feeling that we had when the program ended.

“And when we reflect together, so much of our sporting life just seems so fresh that I’m sure there hasn’t been enough time for perspective, right?”

Virtue and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., competed for two decades. Earning Order of Canada honours, she said, was an honour that had her reflecting on their early days.

“This is not something we would have ever known to even dream for. We weren’t seven and nine (years old) cruising around the ice together talking about this, it seemed unfathomable,” she said. “And yet, we watched so many of our friends and peers along the way receive this incredible honour. I just feel humbled, and just so, so honoured.”

Virtue talked by telephone Sunday before appearing virtually on Hayley Wickenheiser’s “WickFest: Female Hockey Festival,” calling a few minutes early to ensure she wouldn’t have to duck out too soon.

Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the global pandemic. Wickenheiser, of course, teamed up with actor Ryan Reynolds and others for “Conquer COVID-19,” an initiative that delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals. Numerous other athletes have hosted virtual practices, information sessions, etc. for Canadian kids.

“It can be underestimated, I guess, what that kind of mentorship or connection with an athlete does,” Virtue said. “I think about those kids watching the next Olympics and how invested they’ll be and it’s pretty neat to share that.”

The international figure skating schedule has been a bust since last March when COVID-19 forced cancellation of the world championships in Montreal.

Keegan Messing is the only Canadian to have competed so far this season (Skate America). Skate Canada International was scrapped, and if Stockholm, Sweden does manage to host the world championships in March – organizers want to host it in a “bubble” – there’s no guarantee Canada will even go because of lack of preparation, quarantine restrictions, etc.

“I think there’s a caveat to everything in that it offers great perspective. You realize just how seemingly insignificant ice dance can be or skating,” Virtue said. “But at the same time, in their relative spheres, and as far as their goals and pursuits go, it’s huge to miss out on one competition, let alone a season.

“I think just changing that benchmark of knowing when to prepare for something, how a peak, how to maximize your time, the unknown, the uncertainty, like so many people are facing, must be really challenging. And my heart goes out to (the skaters).”

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Figure skating

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria city council unanimously voted Jan. 21 to develop a one-time relief fund for businesses hit by vandalism. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
City offers relief funds for Victoria businesses hit by vandalism

Limited relief fund will come from 2021 contingency budget

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

A seller on UsedVictoria.com has listed signed, first editions of the first three Game of Thrones books. (UsedVictoria.com)
Winter is coming: 1st edition, signed Game of Thrones books for sale in Greater Victoria

Three signed Game of Thrones books listed on Used Victoria for $6,000

(Pxhere)
Mill Bay nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Saanich police are investigating property damage at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police seek info after fence torn down, dumped over embankment in Saanich

Christmas Hill restoration site fence destroyed sometime between Jan. 16 and 18

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns after searing report into workplace culture: reports

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Most Read