Patrick Chan has jumped back into figure skating’s competitive realm.
And there are increasing signs 2010 Olympic champs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, heading home for the Stars on Ice Canadian tour stop at Budweiser Gardens Sunday, will be next.
“It’s certainly on our minds and it’s definitely in our sights,” Virtue, the London ice dancer who turns 26 this month, said Tuesday from Montreal.
“We’re such competitive people. The more we explore different movements and work with other coaches and choreographers, maybe the more fire we have.
“We’ll see. We talk about (a comeback) a lot and we’re constantly thinking about it. That’s very motivating, too.”
The two-time world champs have remained noncommittal on their future since finishing second at the Sochi Olympics. They never officially retired so they have been constantly quizzed about it.
“We’re probably the most annoying story in Canadian sports saying we don’t know what’s next,” Moir, the 27-year-old from Ilderton, said, “but we’re being honest. We have days we wake up and say, ‘Yeah, we need another (Olympic) shot’. There are other days we love doing these other parts of our lives. I don’t think we’ll ever lose that feeling of wanting to be at the Olympic Games and represent Canada. I’ll feel that way for the rest of my life.”
They understand, after taking a year away from the daily training grind, the target must be the 2016-17 skating season, at the latest. That would give them one full campaign of Grand Prix and world competition before the 2018 Olympics set for Pyeongchang, Korea.
“We have to be realistic,” Moir said. “We’re not coming back unless it’s to become Olympic champions again. If we’re in, we’re in. You’ll see in the next eight months or so getting into better shape than I was at the (last) Games so I’m ready to pounce if that’s an option.
“There’s no way it’ll be me being fat and out of shape holding us back.”
This isn’t about avenging a defeat or lingering doubt over past performances.
They routinely call their last Olympic experience in Russia — where they finished second to Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White last year — a highlight of their careers.
“This is not an unfinished business thing,” Moir said. “It would be because we found love in competition again. We want to do things for us, but we also want to represent our country. In no way does it mean we’re not already well represented in Canada. (Former national teammates) Andrew (Poje) and Kaitlyn (Weaver) had a storybook season. It’s more personal. We still love the sport and have more to give.
“That would be the reason to come back.”
A relaunch at their former Canton, Mich., training ground with old coach Marina Zoueva is a massive longshot. The Canadians questioned their coach’s commitment leading up the 2014 Olympics.
“There hasn’t been much time to look back,” Virtue said. “It’s been nice to look forward to new things. We’ve been focused on other things like the show circuit.”
Though veteran ice dancers are capable of coaching themselves, Virtue and Moir don’t see that as a possibility for them.
“I don’t believe in it,” Moir said. “You need four or five sets of eyes to begin with and when you’re into it, there is a lot of emotion, pressure and tension. You need someone to guide you. It would be interesting to see where we would end up. We’re close with a lot of the Canadian teams that came before us. We have a connection there.
“But we would be looking for a coaching team, for sure, if we were to come back.”
They built their “Stars” programs with the help of former Canadian ice dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon and competitor-turned-choreographer Jeff Buttle. Hip-hop dancer Sam Chouinard pitched in, too.
“We went to Montreal and Toronto to work with them,” Virtue said, “but most of our training this year, we were on the ice by ourselves in Komoka, Ilderton or at Western Fair. It was neat have those quiet moments on the ice together. That has always been our safe place. Now, it’s a blank slate to create new things and evolve as a team.”
After 18 years joined at the hip, they stepped out with their own business pursuits, too. Virtue was cover model for Real Style and Strong Fitness magazines.
“It’s been a really nice change of pace and we were ready for a breather from that rigorous and demanding training,” she said. “I’m proud of the year we had.”
Moir shot a memorable commercial for insurance company belairdirect. He also travelled to root on his girlfriend Kaitlyn Lawes, who is Jennifer Jones’ third, on the curling tour.
“I think I got more face time (on TV) at curling than my whole skating career,” he joked. “All my buddies were bugging me — do you ever work or are you just on the curling circuit now? But now, I understand how much pride there is in following someone who is passionate about something and giving back.
“A lot of sacrifices were made for us year to year. I want to help give kids in Ilderton, London, Ontario and Canada the opportunity we had.”
Perhaps one of the best ways would be to show them what’s left in their competitive tank.
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IF YOU GO
What: Investors Group Stars On Ice
When: Sunday, 4 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens.
The show: It’s the 25th anniversary tour in Canada. Kurt Browning is choreographing and directing, bringing more of what Tessa Virtue says is like “theatre on ice” but with definite links to the previous 24 seasons.
Who: Familiar faces include Browning, Virtue/Moir, Patrick Chan, world champion pair Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford, Joannie Rochette, Jeffrey Buttle, Shawn Sawyer and Weaver/Poje.
Tickets: Visit starsonice.ca or budweisergardens.com or the arena box office.