TORONTO – A home world championship heading into an Olympic Games — it doesn’t get much bigger or better than that for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
But these worlds hold even greater significance for Canada’s ice dance stars, because they may very well be their last.
Virtue and Moir will be aiming for their third world title in March at what’s essentially their home rink in London, Ont., and then have talked retirement following the Sochi Olympics.
“There is a good chance,” Virtue said, on London being their world finale. “I remember the Turin world championships after the Vancouver Games, we said we would probably never do a worlds after an Olympics again because it takes such a toll both physically and mentally.
“It’s a lot of pressure and stress that goes with an Olympic Games so it was hard to turn around and compete again.”
Virtue and Moir, and Toronto’s Patrick Chan, headlined the Canadian team for the world championships, announced Monday at the top of the CN Tower.
Toronto’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., will also represent Canada in ice dance. Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., will skate men’s singles, while the lone women’s singles skater is Kaetlyn Osmond, a 17-year-old from Marystown, N.L.
Canada’s two pairs teams are Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., and Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto.
Another men’s singles skater and a third ice dance team will be added before the event, March 11-17 at London’s Budweiser Gardens.
Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, who grew up just down the road in Ilderton, know that time is ticking down on a career that’s already stretched 16 years, and they make a point of not letting a moment go unnoticed.
“Even in day-to-day training, we always say that to each other, there’s not much left,” Moir said. “We laugh because it seems like it hasn’t been three years since the Olympics already, it goes by so quick.”
Moir, who claimed his fifth national title Sunday with Virtue, said the two have begun to think about the next stage of their lives.
“Which is natural when you get to be 23 (Virtue) and 25 (Moir), but at the same time, we’re trying to take in every moment,” Moir said. “Because it could be the last 13 months of our competitive career, we’ve had a great run and we just want to finish it off the way we want, on our terms.”
Chan, meanwhile, will be gunning for his third consecutive world title in London. The 22-year-old can’t see himself going another four years to the 2018 Olympics, but isn’t counting out another world championship appearance or two.
“We’ll see,” he said. “Sometimes people have the urge to go and get another world title, I might want to go for Kurt’s (Browning) record and be like him. It would be cool to match him with the world titles.”
Browning won four titles, three of them consecutively.
Retirement is the last thing Duhamel and Radford are thinking about. While they’re both 27, they’re virtual new kids on the block in only their third season competing together.
“We may have been around in the skating world for a long time, but we’re just beginning to hit our stride, we feel there is so much further than we can go,” Duhamel said.
Duhamel and Radford, who were fifth at last year’s world championships, edged Moore-Towers and Moscovitch in the tightest event of the Canadian championships. While domestic scores tend to be inflated, their 206.63 points would have earned them gold at last year’s world championships.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch were right behind them at 204.54.
“We don’t want it that close,” Duhamel said.
“We’re happy that we have two teams that are going to go into worlds because we really want to get the three spots (for Sochi),” Radford added. “But we’ll be working really really hard to make sure we are the top team.”
The world championships determine how many berths every country will get in each discipline at next year’s Olympics.
If the placings of Canada’s two pairs teams totals 13 points or less — a sixth-place finish and a seventh-place finish — Canada will have three pairs berths in Sochi.
Because Osmond is the lone women’s singles skater, she has to finish top-10 in London to clinch two women’s berths in Sochi. A top-three performance by Osmond would give Canada three Olympic berths.
NOTES: The federal government announced a contribution of $2.2 million toward the London world championships. . . The CN Tower will be lit in purple, the colour of the event’s logo, on March 10 in celebration of the event.