Canadian ice dancers set gold standard

The Thunderbird Sports Centre is no stranger to big events. File Phillipe Roberge

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir pulled off a superb performance to beat a strong field for their second Olympic ice dancing title.

They sure made it a memorable one.

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold, and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron from France won silver, even after a wardrobe malfunction during the short dance. Every movement was synchronized, every element raw and emotional, the only question left inside Gangneung Ice Arena was whether it would be enough.

They entered the final portion of the competition up by nearly two points on the French pair of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. - Moulin Rouge had the entire internet hot and bothered, with some Twitter users telling the two athletes (in all caps nonetheless) to "JUST SAY YOU'RE IN LOVE ALREADY". "So we trusted ourselves and we needed to believe in that program so it felt so good to really execute that in the moment".

They were better than anybody has ever been.

The latest drug scandal hit just after one of the high points of the Games - the gold medal-winning performance of Virtue, 28, and Moir, 30, in the ice dance that made them the most-decorated Olympic skaters of all time.

Virtue and Moir won Olympic gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, then won silver four years later in Sochi, Russia.

Now, they're the most successful Olympic ice dance pair of all time - with five medals.

Papadakis and Cizeron followed them onto the ice and received mostly level-four marks, underscored by their in-step rhumba. "We're grateful for the legends that came before us and really paved the way".

Figure skating's most-decorated duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir weren't always the flawless pair.

"They're a once-in-a-generation talent", said Patrice Lauzon, who along with his wife, Marie-France Dubreuil, coaches the Canadians and French at their school in Montreal.

The American pair of Maia and Alex Shibutani took home the bronze with a score that was well behind the top two pairs.

USA champs Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were third, two-hundredths of a point ahead of their compatriots, Maia and Alex Shibutani.

"It was fantastic to finally have that Olympic moment", Alex Shibutani said.

"I'm happy with the results but I'm not happy with the runs because I think I could do better", she said. The third American couple, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, was seventh and in medal contention despite an injury that she aggravated during warmups. But a rare and stunning fall entering their combination spin was enough to damage an otherwise attractive performance to "Imagine" that still drew an emotional applause.

Meanwhile, the race for the gold medal came down to two teams a cut above the rest.

The unflappable Virtue and Moir answered the challenge with 4 minutes to last a lifetime, a program certain to go down in Olympic history.

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