Golden ice dancers banish Canadian blues
A young pair of ice dancers lifted the host country out of its Winter Olympic gloom with a golden performance on Monday just as Canadians were questioning their team's medal-winning capability.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir brought home Canada's first Olympic gold in ice dancing to lift a host nation struggling to cope with a demoralising ice hockey defeat and diminishing medal hopes.
The pair, now aged 20 and 22 respectively, started skating together as children, and said they sacrificed a normal teenage life for the intense training that realising an Olympic dream entails.
"It's been 13 years that we've been skating together," a stunned Virtue told reporters after the triumph.
Image: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir do their routine in the finals
Davis-White lose to training partners
Virtue and Moir's stirring performance to Mahler's Symphony No 5 raised the domed roof at the Pacific Coliseum when they were awarded a combined total of 221.57 points to beat Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White by 5.83.
Davis and White, who share two coaches and train with the champions, made it a double celebration for North America when they took silver for their dramatic Phantom of the Opera exhibition.
White was dressed in a long-sleeved, light yellow shirt and black pants, while Davis wore a wavy, knee-length dress that was cream-colored on top and purple on the bottom.
"I think in the last couple of years North America has really come into its own in the ice dance. The direction ice dance is taking has favoured North American teams ... it's really exciting to be part of it," an elated Davis said.
Image: Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Russian World champions shunted to third place
Russian world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin had been tipped as the favourites but after being bumped down to third place in Sunday's original dance, they could not make up ground and had to settle for bronze with 207.64.
It is only the third time since ice dance became an Olympic sport in 1976 that a Russian or Soviet team has failed to stand atop the podium.
The Russian world champions led after the compulsory dance but dropped to third after the original dance. The positions were unchanged after Monday's free dance, with the Canadian pair scoring 221.57 points, the Americans 215.74 and the Russians 207.64.
Domnina and Shabalin were the last of the top three pairs to skate, but there was little hope of moving up the rankings.
Davis and White, who were first up, set the bar high for the Canadians after collecting 107.19 points in the free dance. But Virtue and Moir came up with a superb show to better that score with 110.42.
Image: Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin