No matter what Carmen had to give, the hole that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had to overcome was just too big.
The Canadian ice dancers earned a silver medal on Saturday at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships with an overall score of 185.04, after skating their sexy program to music from the famous opera Carmen. Their American training partners and rivals took gold, Meryl Davis and Charlie White who skated to an overall 189.56. Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev took bronze with 169.19.
Virtue and Moir fell into a gap of more than three points after Thursday night's short dance from which they couldn't recover to defend their world title. Every fraction of a point is critical between the two best ice dance teams in the world.
"We'd be lying if we said we came here to get silver, but our focus was on two solid performances," said Virtue. "We didn't' make it easy on ourselves after the short program, we were in a bit of a hole. But we came out today and battled, and we have to be proud of that performance."
Their programs turned heads this season for being so dramatically different from the vintage Virtue and Moir programs that have earned titles for them in the past. But don't think that means Virtue, 23 and Moir, 25, are going to drop the forward-thinking ambition that has driven their recent programs and return to the sweet and wholesome kind of ice dance programs that earned them Olympic gold as youngsters in Vancouver.
"We pushed ourselves with some tricky elements this year -- everything we did was new," said Moir. "We'll get back to doing what we do well, not that we're not going to push ourselves next year, because we are."
"We have a good connection and I think we showed that very well in Carmen, but in a different way, but I think there are some figure skating people who weren't on our level maybe, didn't agree with it. But we'll see what we can make next year. We're not going back to the classic Virtue and Moir that everyone wants either, because we're older and more mature now. We'll have something special next year."
The Canadians, dressed in dramatic black, had the house on its feet during the passionate program. They danced and lunged, Virtue ran a hand up Moir's thigh, crawled at his feet, threw her legs in the air and wrapped them around his head. The eye-grabbing program transitioned back and forth from soothingly romantic to wildly dramatic. They had a season-high score of 111.17 and felt strong about the skate, Moir calling it one of the highlights of the duo's career together, which dates back to 1997.
Davis and White, skating to Notre Dame de Paris, scored a slightly higher 112.14 for their free skate, with no shortage of fans in the rink waving American flags. The two teams have the same coach in Marina Zueva and they both train at the same rink in Canton, Michigan. They have been fighting one another for gold in every major world competition for the past four years. Both are pushing the envelope in ice dance.
"I sometimes get a little fired up in the media, but it's never meant to discredit Charlie and Meryl – they are amazing skaters," said Moir. "We know that they have their attributes that are strong and we're both pushing the sport."
Canada had two other entrants in the ice dance competition. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje placed fifth, while Piper Gilles and Paul Poirer were 18.