Canadian skaters break ice dance world record

Reuters

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made a perfect start in their bid to add another Olympic medal to the four they already possess by breaking their own short program world record to skate clear of the field on Monday.

The pair have been beaten just once since coming out of retirement in late 2016, when defeat to France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron at the Nagoya Grand Prix Final last December was enough to make them tweak their program.

Virtue and Moir, who are skating in their last Olympics and played a key role in Canada's team trophy gold last week, scored 83.67 points for their sizzling Latin-themed routine, breaking their previous record mark of 82.68.

They edged out their French rivals by less than two points, whose stellar skate had the audience clapping along to the Ed Sheeran soundtrack that accompanied their routine, with Papadakis and Cizeron awarded 81.93 by the judges.

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Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir tear up the ice. Pic: Getty

Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue claimed third place with a 77.75 score that was just enough to put them above compatriots Maia and Alex Shibutani by 0.02 points.

Virtue and Moir have two individual Olympic medals, gold from Vancouver in 2010 and silver in Sochi four years ago, as well as a team silver from Sochi to go with last week's gold.

These Olympics have been billed as a showdown between the Canadian and French pairs, with figure skating experts believing a loss for Virtue and Moir would signal a generational change in the sport.

The Canadians told reporters last week that after December's stinging loss to the French, they went back and changed things in their program, mainly to improve their transitions to make both the short and free skates more fluid and seamless.

The Shibutani siblings, who took bronze in December's Grand Prix Final, said they felt confident despite the presence of the Canadian, French and American pairs above them.

"We've been on the same podiums with them at the major competitions leading up to the Games and we've taken some places away from Gabriella and Guillaume on occasion," Alex told reporters after their skate.

"We're out there trying to be the very best team that we can be and that's pretty damn good. They are great teams but I don't feel intimidated by anyone and I know Maia doesn't either."
The free skate takes place on Tuesday before the ladies event kicks off a day after.