Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel

Ice dance star Tessa Virtue happily out of her comfort zone in Queens EMBA program

TORONTO — Tessa Virtue doesn’t feel the same sense of exhilaration or rush of adrenaline as she did standing at centre-ice after a gold-medal performance.

At least not on that scale or of that magnitude. And that’s okay.

“There are so many things that are making me really content and joyful that were just impossible to experience as an athlete in training,” Virtue said. “So, there’s sort of something offsetting that where I might not be getting that adrenaline rush, there’s so much that I feel passionate about and new goals that I’m striving for – which is both scary and exhilarating.”

Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada on Friday. They’re the most decorated ice dancers in history, capturing five Olympic medals, including a pair of ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018.

Virtue is swamped with school work these days as part of Queens University’s Executive MBA program – one of the new pursuits that’s pushed her out of her comfort zone.

She’s typed out frantic text messages to retired Paralympic swimmer Ben Huot – who graduated from Queens’ EMBA program – saying, “Have I made a mistake? What am I doing?” she laughed. “(Huot) been so wonderfully supportive.

“But I am so happy I did it. And it’s an extraordinary cohort, everyone is so impressive and has accomplished such wonderful things and in such diverse spheres, and so the conversations are so exhilarating, and especially right now, I’m so grateful to have the chance to sort of expand my mind.”

Virtue spent the first few months of the pandemic living in North Vancouver with boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly. The power couple joined Arkells frontman on an Instagram live stream back in March. They appeared virtually on the Great Kitchen Party: Home Edition a month later.

The couple is back living in Toronto now, and recently purchased a puppy they named Zoe.

Virtue and Moir’s captivating free dance to music from “Moulin Rouge” in Pyeongchang will endure as one of the greatest Olympic figure skating performances ever. Just one of the numerous YouTube streams has over 1.3 million views.

But Virtue has barely watched it.

“I’ve seen parts of it here and there. And I love the feeling that it evokes in me,” she said. “I’m still so proud of that moment of course. But I can’t decide if it feels like it was yesterday or honestly if I feel just a few lifetimes away from it. So, it’s like that disconnect, right, where I kind of hold onto the feeling that we had when the program ended.

“And when we reflect together, so much of our sporting life just seems so fresh that I’m sure there hasn’t been enough time for perspective, right?”

Virtue and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., competed for two decades. Earning Order of Canada honours, she said, was an honour that had her reflecting on their early days.

“This is not something we would have ever known to even dream for. We weren’t seven and nine (years old) cruising around the ice together talking about this, it seemed unfathomable,” she said. “And yet, we watched so many of our friends and peers along the way receive this incredible honour. I just feel humbled, and just so, so honoured.”

Virtue talked by telephone Sunday before appearing virtually on Hayley Wickenheiser’s “WickFest: Female Hockey Festival,” calling a few minutes early to ensure she wouldn’t have to duck out too soon.

Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the global pandemic. Wickenheiser, of course, teamed up with actor Ryan Reynolds and others for “Conquer COVID-19,” an initiative that delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals. Numerous other athletes have hosted virtual practices, information sessions, etc. for Canadian kids.

“It can be underestimated, I guess, what that kind of mentorship or connection with an athlete does,” Virtue said. “I think about those kids watching the next Olympics and how invested they’ll be and it’s pretty neat to share that.”

The international figure skating schedule has been a bust since last March when COVID-19 forced cancellation of the world championships in Montreal.

Keegan Messing is the only Canadian to have competed so far this season (Skate America). Skate Canada International was scrapped, and if Stockholm, Sweden does manage to host the world championships in March – organizers want to host it in a “bubble” – there’s no guarantee Canada will even go because of lack of preparation, quarantine restrictions, etc.

“I think there’s a caveat to everything in that it offers great perspective. You realize just how seemingly insignificant ice dance can be or skating,” Virtue said. “But at the same time, in their relative spheres, and as far as their goals and pursuits go, it’s huge to miss out on one competition, let alone a season.

“I think just changing that benchmark of knowing when to prepare for something, how a peak, how to maximize your time, the unknown, the uncertainty, like so many people are facing, must be really challenging. And my heart goes out to (the skaters).”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Figure Skating

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

The City of Red Deer said Wednesday that some outdoor activity rentals will be available starting Monday for households only. (Advocate File Photo)
City of Red Deer outlines activities available as new provincial COVID-19 restrictions set in

There will be limited recreation activities available across the City of Red… Continue reading

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

Red Deer Rebels’ three graduating players, Josh Tarzwell (left), Chris Douglas (middle) and Ethan Anders (right) will all move on to new opportunities next season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
‘It was a rollercoaster’: Rebels’ graduating players look back on wild season

The nerves. Even three-and-a-half-years later, Josh Tarzwell still remembers the nervousness he… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Bedard, Wright lead Canadians into gold-medal game at U18 championship

Bedard, Wright lead Canadians into gold-medal game at U18 championship

Canada players are seen prior to the match against Costa Rica as part of the 2021 CONCACAF Futsal Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala in this Wednesday, May 5, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, CONCACAF, Straffon Images, Norvin Mendoza *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada loses to Costa Rica but advances at CONCACAF Futsal Championship

Canada loses to Costa Rica but advances at CONCACAF Futsal Championship

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver addresses the audience at the Yukon Government swearing in ceremony, in the Yukon Government Legislature foyer, in Whitehorse, Monday, May 3, 2021. The Yukon government says travelers who can prove they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be required to self-isolate when they enter the territory beginning May 25. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Kelly
Yukon to lift requirement of 14-day self-isolation for arriving travellers on May 25

Yukon to lift requirement of 14-day self-isolation for arriving travellers on May 25

Most Read