Articles

Dancing On Thin Ice

Rob' Blog From 2013 Worlds

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Susan D. Russell

They’re not exactly worried about being party poopers.

But yes, it’s easy to suggest Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White sucked a little of the air out of the ice dance competition with a sensational short dance performance Thursday night — one that has them solidly in front of hometown favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

But much as Davis and White are very much aware this is a “home Worlds” for their Canadian training mates, they haven’t expended much concern about spoiling the festivities at Budweiser Gardens.

“It’s not something we think about too much,” White said with a smile. “We’re out there doing our job and they fact that the crowd is enjoying it, too, is just a really nice byproduct.”

And the audience are good sports about it here, too. When the Americans were introduced prior to their skate, they received a hearty cheer from the London crowd.

Yeah, you betcha' Davis and White noticed it.

“It feels great,” said White. “Beyond it just being Tessa and Scott’s hometown, Canadians just love figure skating and can appreciate it for its intricacy and maybe a lot of the things a casual fan can’t (see). It’s something we, as skaters, appreciate and you go out there and try to show it to them and give them their money’s worth.”

Even if it means spoiling the final scene.

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Speaking of the hometown kids ...

Much as their faces couldn’t hide the disappointment of the short dance results, Moir spoke with conviction about an evening in which “we made some memories for a lifetime.”

“The feeling of skating in our hometown, there’s nothing like it,” he said. “This is probably my favourite competition of my career because I could not care less what the 11 (judges) think. I’m more concerned about the 10,000 people behind them.”

Not that it means the Canadians are giving up on the gold just yet.

“What we’re going to take back to the hotel tonight is the feeling of skating in front of a hometown crowd,” said Moir. “We’re going to work for Saturday. Nothing’s impossible. It’s going to be great ... We find ourselves in a little bit of hole, but the competition’s not over yet.”

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For some teams, the victory truly is in just being here.

Take the French team of Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzot, for example. Bourzot suffered a leg injury in January that seriously jeopardized their chances of being here in London for Worlds.

But they’re in fourth after the short dance, still with a shot at landing on the podium.

“For a long time, it was questionable,” Bourzat said when asked if he feared missing this event. “I still feel pain now. At some points, when we were at practice and we were trying to do run-throughs, I felt much pain and it was something that crossed my mind.

Péchalat added: “Last year, I broke my nose before the World Championships ... It’s sport, so even if you’re not at your best, you come to compete to show that, even with this (obstacle), you can be a good athlete and a good performer.

So here we are.”

*****

Of course, there was one more such story of battling back, and everyone in the house knew all about it. And if they didn’t ... well the screams and tears of joy we all saw on the face of Kaitlyn Weaver made it oh so obvious.

“I was emotional before the music even started,” said Weaver, who suffered a fractured fibula on Dec. 18 and only resumed full training for Worlds two weeks ago. “When we skated out after they announced our names, I was just thinking ‘I can’t believe we’re here. I can’t believe it. We made our dreams a reality.’ So then to skate great on top of that just put me over the top, I guess.

“That’s the moment you live for, right there.”

And if she’d missed that moment? Weaver never allowed herself to go there.

“Throughout the whole recovery, I tried not to think of the alternative,” said the Houston native who has Canadian citizenship. “Everyone thought it was 90 per cent I wouldn’t be here. But I clung on to that 10 per cent like nobody’s business. I didn’t want to think of the alternative.”

And to borrow from their "Sound of Music" program, Weaver now has a few more entries to add to her list of “my favourite things.”


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