TORONTO — It’s a chance to thank Canadian fans who were virtual passengers on their Pyeongchang journey, and an opportunity to fill a competitive void left after their Olympic finale.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are headliners and co-producers of the “Thank You Canada Tour” that opens Oct. 5 in Abbotsford, B.C., and makes 26 stops across Canada.
“It’s a nice outlet for us creatively to sort of explore different avenues artistically and with our skating movements, and styles and things,” Virtue said. “But it’s also nice to have this project because it allows us to focus that energy and fill that void that competition may leave, just so we can channel that into something that we’re really passionate about.”
The 29-year-old Virtue and Moir, 30, captivated Canada when they captured their second Olympic ice dance title in what was likely their final competitive performance.
The most decorated figure skaters in history have barely stopped since. Two show tours of Japan, a tour of Korea, and Stars on Ice Canada kept them busy. They were guests on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Virtue posed for the cover of “Strong” magazine, and is the new face of Nivea Canada.
They finally set their feet down at home Monday to prepare for their cross-Canada thank-you project, which will likely double as a farewell tour.
The partners of 21 years haven’t officially announced their retirement, but mostly because they haven’t had time to.
“What we learned after Sochi (2014 Olympics) is that we need time to reflect, kind of those quiet moments,” Moir said. “If someone said to us in March of 2014 that we were going to be in Pyeongchang, we would have laughed them out of the room, that was the most ridiculous idea.
“We know we need time. It sure feels like a great ending. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and we haven’t found something to fill that competitive void yet. This Thank You Canada tour, and having that artistic license is going to make a big difference.”
Virtue and Moir have longed to stretch their creative muscles on such a tour for years. They’ve spent two decades conforming to judges requirements. They’ve had little creative control on the pro tours they’ve headlined.
“We’ve talked about it for years and years, and I think we both have long lists of dream show ideas, and things we’ve eventually like to implement and we just sort of looked at each other and thought what better time than now,” Virtue said. “It’s been on our radar for awhile and I think the timing just feels right, and with the success of the team in Pyeongchang and that cast, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Canada’s “cast” at the Pyeongchang Olympics made history with its four-medal performance — Canada captured gold in the team event, while Kaetlyn Osmond won women’s singles bronze, and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won pairs bronze, to go with Virtue and Moir’s ice dance victory.
Chan and Duhamel and Radford announced their retirement after the Games, and are also headlining the thank-you tour, along with Osmond, ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, and three-time world champion Elvis Stojko.
Osmond, who along with Virtue and Moir and Stojko, did a whirlwind media tour of Toronto on Tuesday, said it’s a way to rekindle some of the magic of Pyeongchang.
“It was such an amazing Olympics, and we built such a great friendship during this time,” Osmond said. “Normally we’re all gearing up for competitions right now, and instead we’re gearing up to do the tour together, and with everything that happened last year, it didn’t quite feel like it was done yet, so being able to do this continues it a little bit more.”
While they haven’t been on Canadian soil for awhile, Moir watched the Toronto Maple Leafs free agency moves with great interest. The diehard Leafs fan was in Narita Airport in Tokyo watching World Cup soccer with Spanish skater Javier Fernandez when he heard the Leafs had acquired star forward John Tavares.
“Spain had just lost to Russia, so Javi was in an extreme low, and I checked my phone and saw that we got Johnny T. I got a text that I thought was a joke, and I was like ‘No way. No way,’” Moir said laughing. “And then I logged on and oh my gosh, it was real, and I ran up and down the hallway, but I felt really bad because Javi was in that big low, and I was at this extreme high.”
The “Thank You Canada Tour” wraps up on Nov. 24 in St. John’s, N.L.