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Virtue, Moir win silver at Grand Prix Final

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir wave to the crowd after the ice dance free skate program at the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finals at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse in Quebec City, December 11, 2011. Virtue and Moir finished second. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

This was the first season of training when everything seemed to go right for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

So when Canada's Olympic ice dance champions wound up with the silver medal Sunday at the ISU Grand Prix Final, the two were more than a little frustrated.

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., scored 112.33 points for what they felt was a gold-medal free dance to music from the old Hollywood movie "Funny Face" and 183.34 points overall. But American world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White claimed gold, edging the Canadians by 0.05 points in the free dance for a total score of 188.55.

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"It's a piss-off," Moir said. "Sorry, that's as blunt as I can be. We're not happy, we felt like we laid down a good skate and in our opinions a good enough skate to win and obviously we're missing something.

"It's tough to swallow, especially when Tessa and I have had probably our best fall to date and this is the best start of a season that we've had. It was a little easier to swallow when we weren't doing the training or Tessa was in pain, but now that everything's a go, it's a bitter pill to swallow."

Virtue and Moir were gunning for their first Grand Prix Final title. They skipped the Grand Prix two of the previous three seasons after Virtue twice underwent surgery on her lower legs.

"There won't be any problem with motivation for the rest of the year," Moir said. "It's bulletin board material now.

"We wanted to win our first Grand Prix Final in Canada and in Quebec City and to not accomplish that is rubbing a little bitter. As you can tell."

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France won bronze by scoring 169.69 overall. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., were fourth, earning 99.83 points for their free dance and 166.07 overall.

Moir had an uncharacteristic and costly fall in the short program that left the Canadians in second heading into the free dance.

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But the 24-year-old was more frustrated with the fact they received lower component scores — artistic impression marks under the old scoring system — than the Americans, whom they train with in Canton, Mich.

Earlier this week Moir called the Canadians' free dance their flagship program. Set to the whimsical music from "Funny Face," Moir is Fred Astaire complete with hair neatly parted on the side, while Virtue is Audrey Hepburn in a shimmering red dress.

"It's tough to get beat artistically when we feel we're the best artistic ice dance team in the last five years," Moir said.

The Canadians will head back to the drawing board ahead of the Canadian championships next month in Moncton, N.B., the ISU Four Continents, and finally the world championships where they aim to reclaim the gold medal they lost to Davis and White last season.

"It will be exciting to get back and review the scores in detail," Virtue said. "If we need to make some major changes we will, this is the time to do it."

Davis and White a flowing waltz to Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss.

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"It felt really good out there, we really like this free dance a lot, it's just comfortable, we don't feel like we have to try too hard in certain parts, or take it easy in anything, it suits our skating style," White said. "I think we're just able to get in the mood and it just comes naturally."

Canada's ice dance medal was the team's third of the event. Patrick Chan of Toronto won the men's singles to cap an undefeated 2011 and junior pairs skaters Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry of Guelph, Ont., won silver.

Chan, along with the other gold medallists, collected US$25,000 for his victory. Virtue and Moir split $18,000 for finishing second. A total of 72 skaters from 11 countries competed for $272,000 in prize money.

Weaver and Poje were big fan favourites at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse, earning a standing ovation for their skate. Weaver erupted in tears when she finished, burying her head in Poje's chest.

"I've never been that way before at the end of a program, I think it's just a testament to how committed we were to the characters and the story, and connected with the music because I felt like I really was living that story," Weaver said. "And then to do everything well. . . and perform the way we did with the audience going every step of the way, that was the utmost sigh of relief.

"I guess that's what just all came out at the end."

The fourth-place Canadians skated to French song "Je Suis Malade," which they chose after receiving the suggestion in an email from a fan. The fan, who remained anonymous, suggested the song would be an appropriate choice given the world championships are in France this season.

"When we listened to it, it's such an extraordinary piece of music and with a very emotional story," Weaver said. "Very thankful of course to that person. They sent me a message back saying who knew that fans or just people interested in figure skating could have some sort of input.

"We're very thankful to that person because they helped to make the season very special for us."

About 10,000 fans attended the Final. Saturday's events drew about 2,800 in the 3,234-seat venue, while 2,400 turned out to watch Sunday's ice dance.

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