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Virtue & Moir ready to gamble

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada skate during an ice dance figure skating training session at the Iceberg Skating Palace in preparation
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada skate during an ice dance figure skating training session at the Iceberg Skating Palace in preparation

By Pritha Sarkar

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir belong to an exclusive Olympic club, having won gold on home ice in Vancouver in 2010, but it has not stopped the Canadians rolling the dice again at this month's Sochi Games.

Only one pair has previously captured two Olympic ice dance titles - Russians Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov in 1994 and 1998 - and it was a feat beyond British greats Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.

Even with the odds stacked against them, Virtue and Moir are prepared to take a gamble which could take the gloss off their 100 percent Games record, with many believing they have more to lose than to gain by competing in Sochi.

"It is really risky but it's also part of the appeal," Virtue told Reuters as the duo fine-tuned their programs ahead of the team competition that begins on Thursday.

"We always want to challenge ourselves and don't think we ever want to back down from something for fear of failure. There is the pressure that if we don't repeat our title it might be seen as a disappointment and we would certainly be upset.

"But that said, the chance to compete at another Olympic Games, represent our country and be part of Team Canada, I'm not sure how we can lose," said Virtue.

Despite putting a positive spin on their Sochi adventure, the duo cannot skate away from the fact they have not beaten closest rivals and training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White for almost two years.

Davis and White have won their last 11 competitions, are unbeaten for 22 months and are favorites to become the first Americans to win the ice dance gold.

Moir, however, is undaunted and has been plotting their downfall.

MAIN FOCUS

"We've had our plans since the beginning of the year and going into the season, that (beating Davis and White) was the main focus for us," he said.

"We don't want to be in a rivalry, we want to separate ourselves (from them). The good thing is we feel like we are on track.

"We feel like we've competed very well in the Fall circuit and now it's time for us to separate our skills and show our strengths."

Virtue and Moir came agonizingly close to snapping their losing streak the last time the couples met, at the Grand Prix final in December.

Both couples produced a 'wow' factor with dazzling free dances and in the end were separated by a mere 0.07 of a point.

Rather than being crushed by that defeat, it has fired up the Canadians.

"It made us very hungry. The Grand Prix final is an event we haven't been able to win our whole career. It's kind of like a thorn in our side," said the 26-year-old Moir.

"We were so happy with the performances we had in the final. We came away from that competition very positive.

"We don't feel like we're behind the eight-ball and if anything we feel like we have an advantage and we're even hungrier if that's possible."

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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