Tessa Virtue on forg­ing her own iden­tity

Ice dancer on defin­ing her­self out­side of golden duo

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - News - Genna Buck

Af­ter tak­ing home two golds from the Win­ter Olympics in Pyeongchang with on-ice part­ner Scott Moir, Cana­dian ice dancer Tessa Virtue is one-half of the most dec­o­rated fig­ure skat­ing duo of all time.

But since we caught up with the 28-year-old on the eve of In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day, we thought it fit­ting to talk to her about her­self, not be­ing part of “Tessa and Scott” — al­though he did come up quite a bit.

Virtue was gear­ing up for her vic­tory tour with Moir: a me­dia blitz across the morn­ing shows, a he­roes’ wel­come at a Toronto Maple Leafs game, plans in the works to update their 2011 book.

The two are get­ting mobbed for self­ies and au­to­graphs every­where they go, and slob­bered over in the me­dia — so­cial and main­stream — by peo­ple who are quite open about their de­sire to smash their faces to­gether and make them kiss.

“I’m still not sure that I have per­spec­tive on that,” Virtue said.

Be­sides, she said, Cana­dian fans are so po­lite, and she ex­pects them to move on quickly from Olympic hype.

Still, she says she’s “for­tu­nate to have a plat­form,” and she plans to use it to talk about self-con­fi­dence and find­ing the beauty in quirks — ideas that his­tor­i­cally haven’t been at the fore­front of fig­ure skat­ing.

Virtue doesn’t think that when it comes time to re­tire she’ll have any trou­ble forg­ing an iden­tity apart from Moir. For one, their par­ents have al­ways en­cour­aged them to de­fine them­selves sep­a­rately from skat­ing.

Se­condly, “We’re such dif­fer-

The older you get, the eas­ier it is to un­der­stand who you re­ally are and feel com­fort­able in your skin and present that to the world au­then­ti­cally. tessa Virtue

ent peo­ple. Off the ice it’s been quite natural to have dif­fer­ent paths and fol­low our pas­sions, which are kind of at op­po­site ends of the spec­trum.”

The pair will be tour­ing with Stars on Ice for a few months. Then Virtue hopes to fin­ish her un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in psy­chol­ogy and pur­sue an MBA. Af­ter that? She’s pas­sion­ate about fash­ion, beauty and the busi­ness world. She al­ready has lines of eyewear and jew­elry.

“We’ll still be there for one another; it will just take a dif­fer­ent shape,” Virtue said.

When asked whether she’s un­der more pres­sure to con­duct her­self flaw­lessly in pub­lic than male athletes, in­clud­ing Moir, who cel­e­brate with aban­don, pound beers and chew out refs, she said, “I don’t think we al­ways have to be ‘on.’”

It’s not that Moir has more li­cence to be goofy be­cause he’s a man — it’s just who he is. Virtue, on the other hand, de­scribes her­self as “in­her­ently pri­vate” and “calm and re­served.” Her speak­ing style is for­mal, her an­swers

care­fully phrased.

But when she talks about whether her sport has be­come a bet­ter place for girls in the nearly 21 years she’s been in it, her face falls a lit­tle.

“It’s tough,” she said. “It’s hard to put your­self out there to be judged, not just by the judges on the panel, but crit­ics every­where.”

In con­trast to the ca­ma­raderie of a team sport like hockey, fig­ure skat­ing at the ju­nior level is so com­pet­i­tive that skaters’ fam­i­lies of­ten don’t swap tips about train­ing or cos­tumes or skates, or find a way to be happy for one another for their suc­cesses, Virtue said.

“The un­for­tu­nate thing is it’s not al­ways the friendli­est of en­vi­ron­ments. I hope this land­scape is chang­ing ... that skat­ing can be­come a place of com­mu­nity and kin­ship.”

So many elite sports for young girls are in­di­vid­ual, she said, and the hard thing about get­ting so good, so young, is that you’re “too young to make those de­ci­sions” that set the tone for ev­ery­one.

That’s why her sup­port team has been so vi­tal, she added.

“I think it’s get­ting bet­ter. When I look at our coaches in Mon­treal (Cana­dian hus­ban­dand-wife team Marie-france Dubreuil and Pa­trice Lau­zon), the en­vi­ron­ment is so mo­ti­va­tional. What a re­ally spe­cial way to cap off (our) ca­reer.”

Cap off ? Does that mean they will re­tire from com­pe­ti­tion?

“This come­back was al­ways geared to the 2018 Games,” Virtue said, adding they’re in too much of an “emo­tional fog” to make a de­ci­sion now.

“I can’t imag­ine a bet­ter way to end.”

Eduardo Lima/metro

Metro spoke to Tessa Virtue at a beauty event for Nivea on March 7.

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