| SOCHI, Russia
SOCHI, Russia Feb 9 Olympic champion Scott Moir ruefully admitted he and ice dance partner Tessa Virtue "got smoked" by rivals and training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the Sochi Games on Sunday.
The much-anticipated dance off between the North American rivals who have traded world championship titles since the 2010 Vancouver Games failed to materialise as Americans Davis and White obliterated the Canadians in the team competition.
Barely two months after Virtue and Moir were just fractions of points from overtaking the Americans at the Grand Prix final, Davis and White won the bragging rights by finishing almost seven points ahead in the free skate of the inaugural team competition.
"We got smoked today," Moir sighed in frustration after the free programme.
"Not even close ... It was a good skate, but the levels weren't where they needed to be."
The expected toe-to-toe between the couples who train with the same Russian coach Marina Zoueva failed to materialise when the Canadians paid the price for going out of sync in their side-by-side twizzles in the short programme.
That gap widened further after Davis and White charmed the Russian crowd at the 12,000-capacity Iceberg Skating Palace, putting Team USA on the podium when they had been lagging in the debut team competition. Russia took gold, while the Canadian team got silver.
"We sent a strong message today," White told reporters. "We're looking to try to top that record score again in the individual event, so we set the bar high."
In a new twist for figure skating, Virtue and Moir have another shot at besting their rivals in the individual competition when they will be skating for personal rather than team glory. The Canadians intend to make the best of it.
"That is the interesting thing about this event, we are already thinking ahead to next week," Virtue said of their disappointing scores in the team competition.
She will wear a new dress for the occasion, trading the Russian imperial-style red and gold with plunging neckline styled "after a Faberge egg" for a soft-flowing pastel-coloured one.
"We're performing this programme twice and I wanted two dresses," Virtue told reporters.
"I think this one works for the end of the programme and the one I'll wear next time works for the beginning of the programme because it's pastel." (Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Rex Gowar)