Olympic champions Virtue and Moir land in London to cheering crowd
Following a very memorable Olympics in Pyeongchang, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue are finally home.
Virtue, from London, and Moir, who grew up in Ilderton, touched down at London International Airport Monday evening.
Hundreds of fans filled up the tiny arrival section of the airport in London, Ont., belting out the national anthem and waving Canadian flags to welcome the ice dancers.
The pair signed flags, signs and Tim Hortons cups in what will be their last Olympic homecoming, as they retire from professional ice dancing after winning two sets of gold medals at the Pyeongchang Games.
Their first-place wins in ice dancing and team figure skating in South Korea brought their total Olympic medal count to five, making them the most decorated figure skaters in the history of the Games.
WATCH: Tessa Virtue calls response from communities ‘amazing’
With gold medals in ice dance and team skate, the pair became the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history. They now have three gold medals and a pair of silvers.
Global News foreign correspondent Jeff Semple tells 980 CFPL the pair gained worldwide recognition, “especially in the 24 hours after that last free dance event where they won gold with that incredible emotional performance.”
“They just captured the hearts and minds of not only Canadians but it seems the entire world. We went to their press conference afterwards, and the place was packed with journalists, not just from Canada, but from around the world,” said Semple, who was in South Korea to cover the games. “Everyone wanted a piece of these guys.”
Semple says it’s rare for a Canadian athlete to get that type of interest from international media.
“You don’t get international press at the press conferences of Canadian athletes, you just don’t. In this case, the place was packed and we had this British journalist who kept asking questions to these guys, just trying to get their reaction to the reactions on social media.”
He adds the intrigue surrounding the pair is well deserved, not only for their chemistry and talent on the ice, but also for how they act off of it.
“They are an absolute class act. We had them in our studio. They are extremely charming and down to earth,” Semple said.
WATCH: Scott Moir says ‘magic’ of Olympics hasn’t worn off
Moir and Virtue were shocked by the number of people who came out to meet them.
“We’re tired but this is so exciting for us, we’ve been thinking about this moment being back home since we won the gold medal,” said Moir, who is from nearby Ilderton, Ont. “It’s been unbelievable, we haven’t come down from Cloud 9.”
Moir said representing Canada had only gotten more special in his third Olympics with Virtue.
“None of the magic had worn off,” said Moir, who together with Virtue was Canada’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony. “If anything, you feel more patriotic and we understand more what it means to represent Canada and wear the flag on our back.”
“It’s special and sentimental because it’s been 20 years in the making and it’s the culmination of it all competitively,” added Virtue. “It couldn’t have gone any better for us.”
Asked when they think they’ll come down from the high of winning, Virtue replied: “do we have to?”
The duo has been melting hearts since they claimed gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but this year they garnered a whole new group of fans who swooned over their chemistry on the ice. Some have suggested they might be in a romantic relationship – a rumour the athletes have been denying for years.
Resident Cassie Caranci, who came to the airport early to get a spot at the front of the packed arrival section, said she has been following the skaters’ careers since they started.
“It was really important for me to see them come here,” Caranci said. “Seeing them in the last Winter Games and then seeing them make their comeback, I’m a proud Londoner.”
There is no word on what other celebrations are planned to recognize the pair’s most recent Olympic accomplishments. There was a community-wide celebration and parade in Ilderton following their gold medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
*with files from the Canadian Press
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