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PopWatch on Ice: Gold medalists Virtue and Moir renew our faith in ice dancing

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If you don’t get ice dancing, please watch the gold medal-winning performance from Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. It will erase all memories of Sunday’s occasionally ridiculous original dances. Theirs was by far the best free dance of the night. (“Free dance” means the skaters can use any music, as long as it has a beat.) It had emotion, speed, stunning lifts, perfect unison on the twizzles (I’ve accepted that I’m now someone who applauds “twizzles”), and above all, the feel that they were actually dancing on ice. So many of the pairs, including Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (3rd, watch) and America’s Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (4th, watch) tried to be so dramatic that my mind just processed their performances as a series of stops and starts because of all the tension. (Also, as boring.) To be fair, I couldn’t even concentrate during their skates because I was too busy deciding that Moir was my Olympic crush. Could he have appeared any sweeter when he held Virtue’s hand, looked into her eyes, and talked to her as they skated around the ice preparing to begin their program? He made me feel like they were the only two people in that arena. I melted. (Also, could he have been any more Canadian when he tried to quiet the crowd after their scores so the focus would be on Belbin and Agosto, who had the unenviable draw of skating right after them?)

America’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White, training mates of Virtue and Moir, took home the silver with a Phantom of the Opera program that was intense but still connected with the audience (watch). Their energy and total abandon was thrilling but also kind of nerve-racking — did anyone else feel like their turning lifts were going so fast they might derail? By the end of their skate, I was about as out of breath as White, but because I’d been holding mine. Props to them for that lift in which he flipped her over and she stood on one leg, balancing herself on his raised calf. Which do you think is more difficult: That or Virtue and Moir’s lift where she balanced herself on one leg on his thigh while he’s in a spread eagle?

As for the rest of the field, memorable moments included:

Great Britain’s siblings Sinead Kerr and John Kerr skating to Linkin Park’s “Crawling.” (Watch them at the European Championships.) She plays his savior in the number and brought the house down when she lifted him.

• Realizing France’s Fabian Bourzat’s hands were made to look like the hands of a clock for his time-themed program with partner Nathalie Pechalat. They took that a little too far, no?

France’s Isabelle Delobel lowering the top of her tube dress to reveal a sparkly bodice. Like, I knew she’d have something on under it, but it was still alarming seeing her make that motion. I’ll miss her and her partner Olivier Schoenfelder for the little shows they put on before their programs to get into character (last night’s was the horseplay of children about to dream the impossible dream of growing into glittering adults).

• The “Firebird” and Elvis costumes on Russia’s Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski.

Your turn. What did you think of the podium? (In a PopWatch poll yesterday, 66 percent of readers thought Virtue and Moir would win North America’s first gold in ice dancing.) Anyone else crushing on Moir? (Watch this. I’ll share.) Which was your favorite performance?

P.S. Annie Barrett will be penning your figure skating recaps for the ladies’ competition, which begins tonight on NBC. I’m sad to go, but it’s time: During this morning’s commute, I was choreographing exhibition skates to every song that shuffled onto my iPod. Virtue and Moir really should skate to Eva Cassidy’s “Danny Boy.”

More PopWatch on Ice:

EW’s Olympics hub

After watching ice dancing, does anyone else think ‘Avatar On Ice’ could be super chill?

Ice dancing original dance recap: Culture clash!

Ice dancing compulsory recap: Competition to have more tension than a night of Tango Romantica

Which is dorkier: Olympic Ice Dancing or Dancing With the Stars?

Men’s recap: Lysacek defeats Plushenko in cold war

Men’s recap: Villains, heroes, and fashion victims in the men’s short programs

Pairs’ recap: Shen and Zhao win pairs gold following collective gasp

Pairs’ recap: Good music, bad costumes, and questionable scoring in the pairs’ short programs

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

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