Thursday, February 11, 2010

Virtue, Moir have tunnel vision for Olympic gold

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are keeping their blinders on, hoping their laser-like focus will lead them to gold.

And if journalists keep asking them about a possible North American sweep of the ice dance medals, they're going to get very bored, Moir warned on a media teleconference yesterday.

"We haven't even seen two of the better European teams this season [Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia, and Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France]," he said.

"I think the biggest [thing] for Tessa and I going into the Olympic Games is not to focus [on] the other competition, just focus on ourselves. We believe in the product we have. We're not really concerned with matching ourselves up against the European teams, or the American teams, as a matter of fact."

So not even a YouTube peak at Delobel and Schoenfelder's practices, or Domnina and Shabalin's winning free skate at the recent European Championships? Those teams won the last two world championships.

"I really try not to go out of my way to watch any of the other ones, especially online," Virtue said. "I just sort of made that decision early on that I wasn't going to take a look."

"I'm in the exact same boat as Tessa," Moir added. "We've definitely heard a lot of hoopla, and you're not the first to ask, 'Have you seen the Russians? Have you seen the French?' We know just as much as you guys, and we'd like to know almost less."

That philosophy has prevented the skaters from thinking too much about Domnina and Shabalin's controversial Aboriginal folk dance, which has inspired protests from Australian Aboriginal leaders and concern from Canada's 100 Nations.

"As I said, we're not focusing on that," Moir said. "We know there will be a ton of stories at the Games. Our story is just going to be the skating itself. We don't care about the [Aboriginal] story; we're just about us, and I don't want to repeat myself over and over, but we're not concerned about anyone else."

There is one team they can't help but notice. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who recently defeated world and Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto to win their second U.S. title, share Virtue and Moir's coaches, Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, and their training ice in Canton, Mich.

In December, Davis and White defeated the Canadians at the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo for just the second time in their senior careers.

Full article.

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