- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

It’s the final chapter of Canada’s most successful ice dance story.

So when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir touch down in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, they intend to soak up every second of it.

“I think we might just strap GoPro cameras to our heads,” Moir joked. “We’re going to try our best to be present. That’s really our goal. We want to take in every moment. It really is a beautiful ride, and we’re going to enjoy every single little bit of it.”

That ride began in 1997 when Virtue was 7 and Moir was 9, and now, after an Olympic gold medal in 2010 and two world titles, they’re expected to retire after Sochi, closing the book on a partnership that has spanned nearly two decades.

When Virtue and Moir triumphed in Vancouver, becoming the first North Americans to win an Olympic ice dance title and ending more than three decades of European domination, they were the youngest ice dancers to win gold.

But the hours and days that followed were a blur.

“People ask us, ‘What was it like?’ Some parts I don’t even remember, it was such a whirlwind,” Moir told The Canadian Press. “Especially right after we won, there are about five days there that have gone missing. You look at photographs and kind of go, ‘Oh, that was there?’”

Added Virtue: “It is overwhelming, absolutely. I wish that I journaled more. I remember getting back to the athletes village and thinking, ‘You can either sleep for half an hour, take a shower, or write in your journal.’”

She chose sleep.

The night after their gold-medal free dance, they met family and friends to celebrate at a Vancouver restaurant, and then were loaded into a car and whisked to the top of Grouse Mountain for a 3 a.m. television appearance and photo shoot.

“At some point, and nobody really asked us, they said, ‘We want to take a photo with your medal now.’ And it’s 3 a.m. Bags under my eyes. Those pictures were beauties,” Moir said.

Mixed with the exhaustion were feelings of relief. Virtue later revealed she was far from 100 percent healthy in Vancouver and had competed in pain so severe that just the 10-minute walk from her room at the athletes village to the cafeteria was excruciating.

She suffered from compartment syndrome in her legs, a condition caused when muscles can’t expand within the tissue that contains them.

Virtue had undergone surgery in 2008 on her shins. During her recovery, Moir practiced alone in Detroit, often using a hockey stick or a sandbag as a stand-in for Virtue.

She had a second surgery on her legs in the fall of 2010, which proved more successful.

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