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"Right now, Vancouver is our favorite place to be," Virtue said. "It's been the perfect games."
Virtue and Moir's program was tender and sensual, like a married couple stealing away for a romantic evening. Their gentle, slow start showcased their skating skills, their edges so quiet and smooth they appeared to float above the ice. Make no mistake, though, there was plenty of strength behind that softness.
They had as much power and speed as the hockey players Moir admires so much, but it was performed with balletic grace. Their combination spin seemed to go on forever, with many different positions and edge changes.
And their lifts, oh my. Virtue looked almost angelic on one, balancing on his right thigh with her arms outstretched while he stayed in a deep-knee, spread-eagle bend before she flipped forward and into his arms.
When they finished, they hugged each other tightly. It's been a tough road for the Canadians, who missed almost all of the 2008-09 season after she had surgery to relieve chronic pain in both her shins.
"I wasn't sure we'd ever get back," Virtue said. "That makes this victory even sweeter."
While Virtue and Moir were all softness and grace, Davis and White's "Phantom of the Opera" was big and bold, as powerful as any Broadway production. They skated perfectly to the music, flying across the ice in the fast parts and oozing romance when it slowed.
Their lifts were akin to stunts, done at breakneck speed yet with perfect control. In one, White flipped Davis over his shoulder so she faced the opposite direction. Then, skating backward on one leg, he picked up the other and crossed it behind him, using it to balance his partner. With her arms stretched out wide, that crossed leg was the only thing keeping her from plunging to the ice.
Davis and White's only flaw was a point deduction, likely for an extended lift. But it wouldn't have made a difference in the final results.
"When you're in the moment and you're just enjoying yourself, it's easy to step over," Davis said.
Domnina and Shabalin's routine was very theatrical and highly entertaining, but ice dance has moved beyond the theater it was 10 years ago. The sport now requires good, old-fashioned skating skills, power and innovation, and Domnina and Shabalin didn't quite have it.
They didn't have the same speed of either the Canadians or the Americans and their steps weren't as difficult. Not surprising, considering Shabalin has been plagued by knee problems the last three seasons. When they saw their marks, they nodded matter-of-factly and headed backstage.
The Canadians, meanwhile, got ready for a party that might last all the way until Sochi.
"We knew it was in us, but to get out there on the Olympic ice and to perform and to execute like that," Moir said, "it's a feeling that I've never had."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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