Tessa Virtue has a new goal in skating and life — one that just might give her equal reason to dance with joy.
The 21-year-old Canadian ice dancer spoke with optimism at the beginning of November about the prospect of finally being able to skate pain free when she returns to the ice.
For the second time in two years, Virtue underwent surgery in October to release the tension in two soft-tissue compartments in her legs, a condition that afflicted her on her path to Olympic and World Championship gold last season.
Two years ago, Virtue underwent a procedure to relieve the intense pain in her shins. The latest surgery involved her calves.
“Every compartment in my shins and calves is now open, which is great,” Virtue said. “I’m really hopeful that this is the solution. I’m already feeling really good. I feel like I’m better off than I was in 2008 … I have to be optimistic. If I’m going to get through this and feel good and confident on the ice, I have to be positive.”
The power of positive thinking got Virtue through the pain last season, but she knew that going under the knife again was inevitable.
“I wasn’t really admitting that I was in pain,” she said. “I thought if I think I’m okay and I think I’m healthy, then maybe I will be. That just wasn’t the case and it was translating into my regular life. Just to walk for 10 minutes was a struggle. At that point, it’s not just about skating, it’s about lifestyle.”
While the surgery wiped out their Grand Prix season for the second time in three years, Virtue and partner Scott Moir say they’re thankful for the break after an exhausting summer in the wake of their Olympic triumph.
“I had some injuries I needed to mend as well,” said Moir, 23, who is continuing to train on his own while his partner recovers. “My back was bad and I just need to fix things, so the time off has actually been good for me.”
Indeed, Virtue suggested the developments this fall are almost a blessing in disguise. They’ll return to competition when they know the time is right.
“Our bodies were just run down and we were exhausted,” she said. “So we’re taking this chance to sort of recharge … and when we do come back, we’ll have that extra bit of spark and energy.”
Originally published in February 2011