When CBC Olympics tweeted out that Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir had a “major announcement” to make today – fresh with a video of the two of them in a gym, no less – skating fans knew that it was only going to be one thing. The 2010 Olympic champions will be returning to competition after two years off following their silver-medal showing at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Their announcement, though, comes with a twist. Instead of returning under the tutelage of long-time coach Marina Zueva, whom they trained with from 2003 all the way to Sochi in 2014. They will instead be relocating to Montreal to train with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, who coach current World champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron and U.S. bronze medalists Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue.
“With Marie-France and Patrice, we have found a renewed passion for skating that feels both invigorating and inspiring. We have been working tirelessly on new techniques, and a different approach to ice dance – both mechanically and philosophically.”
— Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir
Of course, Virtue/Moir are no strangers to training under coaches of their rivals. During most of their career, they were under Zueva and Igor Shpilband, who also coached their main rivals, 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis/Charlie White. They are no doubt looking for a fresh set of eyes on their comeback, and it will be interesting to see if and how they transform under Dubreuil and Lauzon.
Virtue/Moir will be returning in the fall to a field that has no clear dominant force. Davis/White have not ruled out a return but also have not competed since Sochi. There have been two different World champions since 2014. Reigning World champs Papadakis/Cizeron made a stunning ascent last season but are just starting this season after being sidelined for most of it with a concussion that took Papadakis off the ice. 2014 World champs Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte could not sustain their standing after their win.
Canada has seen Virtue/Moir’s successors, Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje, win the last two Canadian titles and have taken a silver and bronze at the last two Worlds. And the U.S., without the dominance of Davis/White, have seen Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani swap titles in the last seasons. Russia’s dance teams have been similarly without a leader, with 2015 champs Elena Iliynkh/Ruslan Zhiganshin failing to even make the World team this year and current champs Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev back after injury but lagging behind the other top teams in the world.