(ATR) Canada claimed its fifth gold medal Monday night as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the country’s first ever gold in ice dancing.
In their first Olympics, Virtue, 20, and Scott, 22, became the youngest ever Olympic figure skating ice dancing champions.
USA's Meryl Davis and Charlie White took silver, while world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia won bronze after the free dance final at the Pacific Coliseum.
The Canadian win ended Russia’s dominance in the sport that stretches back to its introduction to the Olympics in 1976; since then Russians have won all but three times.
All three pairs ended the competition in the same positions they had started the night.
Virtue and Moir cemented their lead by earning 110.42 points, the highest score of any in the freestyle competition. The score gave them a total of 221.57 points, almost six points more than Davis and White.
Skating to Symphony #5 by Mahler, the pair moved effortlessly across the ice in front of an enthusiastic home crowd which had punctuated their arrival and departure on the ice with chants of, "Canada, Canada."
Virtue and Moir are training partners with Davis and White and the two pairs cheered one another on.
Canada’s only previous ice dancing medal came at the 1988 Calgary Olympics when Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall won bronze.
Ladies Short Program
The first stage of the individual women's figure skating gets underway tonight with the short program. After winning the past three world championships,a trio of Asian women are favorites to top the podium.
2009 world champion South Korean Kim Yu-na is the leading contender. The 19-year-old is expected to break out the triple axel move. Japan's Mao Asada and Miki Ando will challenge Kim.
Canadian fans will focus on Joannie Rochette who is competing despite the death of her mother Therese Rochette on Saturday. Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu are competing for the U.S. The individual women's figure skating competition concludes with the free skate on Thursday.
Phelps Promoting Youth Olympic Games
U.S. swimming legend Michael Phelps is taking care of business while he is in Vancouver watching the WinterGames.
The IOC yesterday named Phelps as an ambassador of the Youth Olympic Games. The inaugural Youth Olympics Games take place in Singapore from August 14-26.
“The Youth Olympic Games is an excellent initiative, not only for the athletes competing, but also those who are inspired to get into sport and be more active," Phelps said. "I am delighted that I have been given the opportunity to become the first official ambassador of the Youth Olympic Games, and can’t wait to get working with the YOG team to promote the first event this summer.”
Europe Dominates Ski Jumping
Canada and the U.S. could not make the podium in team ski jumping on Monday as Europeans dominated. Austria took gold followed by Germany and Norway with bronze. The U.S. finished in 11th place followed by Canada who came last. Japan was the highest non-European team, finishing in fifth place.
Boost for Chinese Ice Hockey
China’s women beat Slovakia 3-1 win their first Olympic ice hockey match since the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
Both teams have struggled against much stronger sides in Vancouver; China had only netted three times in three games. China’s coach Hannu Saintula said it was an important win for Chinese women's ice hockey and had given more experience and confidence to some of the team’s younger players.
Briefly from Vancouver…
… The first dress rehearsal for the closing ceremony was held at BC Place Monday night. Since the Games began, the domed arena has been the site of a medals ceremony and concert – except for Monday, allowing the cast of thousands to run through their paces for the Feb. 28 show.
… The U.S.-Canada Hockey match Feb. 21 was the most watched TV show in Canadian history. According to a press release from rights-holder CTV, as many as 13 million viewers tuned in to the broadcast, a bitter experience for most of them with the host nation falling in a 5-3 loss.
The hockey match drew high viewership for NBC cable channel MSNBC. But NBC is drawing scorn from hockey fans for only showing the final moments of the match on the free-to-air side of the network.
Medal Events Feb. 21
Men's Speed Skating 10,000 m, Women's Biathlon 4x6 km Relay, Men's Giant Slalom, Nordic Combined Team 4x5 km Relay, Ladies' Ski Cross
Vancouver – Sunny, high 7c, low 4c
Whistler— Sunny, high 4c, low -3c
Cypress Mountain – Sunny, high 3c, low 1c
Written by Around the Rings staff
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