Virtue, Moir to debut more family-friendly lift at Pyeongchang Olympics

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of — Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will debut a more family-friendly version of their Moulin Rouge free program at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The Olympic gold and silver medallists have tweaked their programs over the past few weeks, and perhaps the most noticeable difference was softening a provocative lift that raised some eyebrows at last month’s Canadian championships.

“What it came down to actually was that when we slowed it down and looked on the video, it wasn’t aesthetically that beautiful of a position, so we wanted to change it, make it a little bit better,” Moir said after Wednesday’s practice at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

Canada’s three-time world champions have constantly pushed the envelope in the traditionally stuffy sport of ice dancing and had talked about bringing something new to the table in their final season.

The risque — and athletically impressive — lift saw Virtue stick a toe pick in the ice to propel herself up backwards so that she landed straddling Moir’s shoulders, her hands clasping the back of his head.

Moir had called it “suggestive.” Virtue said they’d been going for “edgy,” not just in the lift but across the entire program.

“We wanted to make a bit of a different statement, and if that was bringing a certain edge or sexuality or darkness or a contemporary feeling to it, mission accomplished I guess” Virtue said at the Canadian championships in Vancouver.

In the slightly modified lift, Virtue straddles Moir’s shoulders for a brief moment before dipping one knee down and then dismounting.

“I think we liked that it made a statement, and it was different,” Virtue said of the original lift. “And that was great for the start of the season, but for the overall vision of the program, we hope that this new position fits a little better.”

Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 musical movie “Moulin Rouge!” tells the story of Christian, played by Ewan McGregor, who falls in love with cabaret actress and courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman).

Their other tweaks were in the programs’ transitions.

“We’ll take the ice with programs where we’re confident in every single second, we’re in love with the movement every second, and hopefully that will show through and we’ll be able to capitalize on that,” Moir said.

They’ll have to chance to debut their modified programs — their short program is to the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Hotel California” by the Eagles, and Santana’s “Oye Como Va” — in the team event, and they’re eager to get some official feedback on the small changes they’ve made before their individual event.

“Also taking the ice at an Olympics is filled with pressure, and every different kind of emotion you can possibly imagine, and for us to just have an extra opportunity to practise the minds that we need to get in, physically, mentally, emotionally, set ourselves up for that, and go through those emotions, that can only help us,” Virtue said.

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