With the recent announcement that they are leaving behind the competitive and professional world of figure skating, the upcoming Canada-wide Rock the Rink tour has become all the more special for Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
The pair have been skating together since their teens, going on to claim multiple gold medals at the Olympics and win the hearts of figure skating and ice dancing fans around the world. They are now headlining what will be their last tour, and Moir said it’s a bittersweet feeling.
“It’s been going very well, we’re really pleased with how the tour is coming together. It’s been a tad bit more emotional than we expected with it being our last tour, its kind of been an interesting mixture of emotions,” Moir said in an interview with Black Press Media.
“There’s a lot of people on this tour that we’ve been skating with for so many years, and a lot of castmates that we’ve always wanted to bring home to Canada and show off their skills across the country. It’s a really tight group and we’re very excited to start.”
Moir admits that he is not normally on social media, but the outpouring of “positive vibes and support” they received from Canadians after he and Virtue announced their retirement made him grateful he had a platform to connect with them.
“To feel the positive vibes and support we got from Canadians and the uplifting messages, it’s just a great reminder that Canadians have always been there for Tessa and me,” said Moir.
“It’s been one of the only moments in my life where I was happy I had social media because we were able to communicate with our fans. And just stripping down our retirement and creating a message for the people who have always been there has created kind of a buzz. But the support we’ve always had through our career kind of quadrupled overnight.
“It’s nice for us as we’re stepping onto new chapters of our life to know that we made a little bit of difference.
This tour has been a way for Virtue and Moir to finally check some goals off of their figure skating bucket list, by bringing together other talented and highly-decorated athletes as well as having choreographed routines to the music of Pink Floyd.
“We’re trying to switch things up, so we’re excited about our new platform with how we want to deliver the sport. We love the new band, the Birds of Bellwoods, out of Toronto that opens up for us. Then we come out and its 90 to 100 minutes where we’re going to give fans as much skating as we possibly can in that time,” said Moir.
“They’ll be seeing much more of us than they’re used to. We have a smaller cast with nine athletes and we’re just going to be doing everything we can to entertain the fans. I hate saying this, but it’s a really fun group and they’re all so talented, so if this exists we throw an “ice skating party” every night.”
While those familiar with Moir and Virtue’s performances might imagine that the sport and choreography come easily to them, Moir said rehearsals for this tour are almost more gruelling than Olympic training.
This is because they are expected to deliver complex routines in a longer time frame than when they are competing at the Olympic level. He said he was joking with Maxim Trankov, a Russian figure skater on their tour who bested them at a previous Olympics, and he admitted: “he didn’t think he had trained this hard when he was preparing for the Olympics.”
“It is a gruelling rehearsal schedule. We have some fantastic professionals that we work with. They’ve just been driving us to rehearse. We want to take this to new levels and we told them that from the beginning so they make us put in hour after hour,” said Moir.
“Like today, we started at 8 a.m. on the ice and going at a high level right until 5 p.m., which is a lot of hours of figure skating as an elite athlete. Everyone showed up a couple of weeks ago for rehearsals, we show up in shape and our rehearsals are ready, so we’re just doing the parts that we all do together that aren’t possible to do at home.
“Everyone thinks this is just a show, it’s not the Olympic Games. But being able to control 90 minutes is much harder, and you have to be in better shape to be able to execute it.”
Moir said he can see himself and Virtue involved in the world of figure skating and ice dancing in a different capacity in the future, not as competitors but possibly mentors or coaches. He said they have always wanted to use their careers to inspire the next generation of athletes that anything is possible.
The closest Rock the Rink tour stops to Vancouver Island are Oct. 5 in Abbotsford and Oct. 7 at Vancouver’s UBC Thunderbird Arena. Tickets are available at rocktherink.com.