September 18, 2019 / 2:34 PM / a month ago

Figure skating: Canadian ice dancers Virtue and Moir announce retirement

(Reuters) - Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have announced their retirement from the sport after an illustrious career in which the duo became the most decorated Olympic figure skaters of all time.

FILE PHOTO - Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance free dance competition final - Gangneung, South Korea - February 20, 2018 - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The pair, who became household names after winning a gold medal on home ice at the 2010 Olympics, delivered the message late on Tuesday on both of their Twitter accounts through a self-recorded video showing them skating around an empty rink.

“Hello everybody, we have some news for everyone, for our fans, people who have supported us, it’s a little bit emotional so bear with us,” said Moir, 32.

“We didn’t know how to tell you, but I guess the best way for us is just to go where we’re most comfortable.

“This is home for us ... we spent 22 years coasting around the outside of the rink, hanging out together, making programs, trying to just soak up our sporting experience,” Moir continued before Virtue jumped in.

“After 22 years, it feels like the right time to step away from the sport,” Virtue, 30, said.

“This is so personal and emotional for both of us. We’re just so grateful. How lucky are we really that we got to share all of this together and with all of you?”

When Virtue and Moir won gold in Vancouver it marked a breakthrough for North American ice dance as the Canadian pair ended a streak of European dominance that had existed since the sport became an Olympic event in 1976.

They went on to earn a pair of silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and then won gold in both events four years later in Pyeongchang.

Their career also includes three world titles, most recently in 2017 when the victory capped an undefeated season, and they went on to led Team Canada as flag-bearers for the opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Games.

Virtue, who along with Moir, is preparing for a Canada-wide Rock the Rink Tour that runs from Oct. 5-Nov. 23, said the future of Canadian ice dancing is a bright one.

“We’re in such good hands in Canada. The next generation of skaters is going to blaze new trails, break all of our records and we can’t wait to cheer them on,” said Virtue.

“And we’ll be there watching,” added Moir.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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