Virtue, Moir win bronze

Canadian ice dancing duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capped a trying season with a bronze medal Friday at the world figure skating championships.

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated to a bronze medal at the World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles on Friday

LOS ANGELES — Canadian ice dancing duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capped a trying season with a bronze medal Friday at the world figure skating championships.

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., who have only been on the ice together for the past 12 weeks, scored 99.98 points for their innovative performance to music from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, giving them a total score of 200.40.

“Scott and I said to each other when we left we weren’t even going to worry about what the judges had to say, we were so pleased with that performance, it was the best that we could do,” Virtue said. “We’re confident and we’re pleased and I think that’s all that matters.”

The 2008 world silver medallists were barely hanging onto third place heading into the free dance after finishing sixth in Friday’s original dance, but reached the podium with a solid performance Friday night. Their medal was the second for Canada at these world championships, coming a night after Toronto’s Patrick Chan won silver in the men’s singles.

Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin won gold, scoring 100.85 in the free dance for total 206.30.

Kingston, Ont.-born Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto U.S. won silver, scoring 100.27 in their free dance for a total score of 205.08.

The world championships capped a challenging season for Virtue and Moir, who missed the entire Grand Prix season while Virtue recovered from surgery on her shins to ease the pain caused by compartment syndrome. They’d competed just twice before arriving in L.A., and didn’t make their season debut until the Canadian championships in January.

“I think tonight was just about self-accomplishment for us, really skating strong programs like we know we can, like we have at home,” Moir said. “Tough season for us, a couple of obstacles in there we didn’t see coming and had to really work together and I think we were a lot stronger as a team because of it and we learned a lot.”

Meanwhile, Joannie Rochette is poised to win just Canada’s second medal in ladies singles in 36 years. The skater from Ile-Dupas, Que., was second in the ladies singles short program, trailing only South Korean sensation Kim Yu-Na.

Rochette earned a season’s best 67.90 points for her elegant and expressive performance to George Gershwin’s Summertime, and a standing ovation from the dozens of Canadians in the crowd.

“The thing I’m the most proud of was I was reaching to the audience more,” said Rochette.

Kim, who trains in Toronto with former Canadian star Brian Orser, dominated the field with her huge jumps and flowing spirals. Her score of 76.12 was the best ever by a woman, and easily beat her previous best of 72.24. Orser, the 1984 and ’88 Olympic silver medallist, was comical in his animation during the program, mimicking Kim’s every move.

Japan’s Mao Asada scored 66.06 to finish third heading into today’s long program, her one blip in her program was doubling a planned triple Lutz. Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que., was 15th with a score of 53.14.

Rochette has traditionally had to battle back from behind.

“It’s the name of her game,” her coach Manon Perron said with a laugh.

She was ninth after the short program at the 2006 Olympics, but fought back to finish fifth. She was sixth after the short program at the worlds last year in Sweden. The difference this season, she says, is a newfound sense of confidence and the ability to portray her love of skating when she steps on the ice.

“I think that’s always been one of my strengths, to be able to fight, I fight for everything all the time,” Rochette said. “But I think what I was missing was a bit of spark, show my joy for skating, sometimes you can do it in practice but when you get in competition you’re a little bit more nervous.”

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