February 22 marked Canadian sports history, as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won Canada’s first gold medal for ice dancing at the Vancouver Olympics Games.
Meanwhile, another young Canadian duo finished the competition with little fanfare.
Vanessa Crone, 19, and Paul Poirier, 18, skating at the Olympics for the first time, represented the Scarboro Figure Skating Club. Their score placed them 14th and they ranked 12th in the free dance portion of the competition.
“I don’t think they were disappointed with where they ended up,” said Martha Finerty, office manager at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club. “Their gold medal this year was getting to the Olympics.”
The Scarboro Figure Skating Club has seen a spike in membership following Crone and Poirier’s success. The club may even have to begin offering an adult program to accommodate interest.
“Membership has gone up tremendously,” Finerty said. “It’s just clearly inspired everybody.”
That inspiration has also touched other skaters at the Scarboro Club.
“The dancers that skate with Paul and Vanessa every day, they’re even more motivated now to know what’s achievable,” club board member Jo-Anne Desveaux said. “Before it was all these people in other clubs and other places in the world that made it to the Olympics and now it’s their teammates who have made it. It’s just inspired them to work even harder for their goals.”
The local community has encouraged the young athletes throughout their Olympic journey.
“Before they left we had an Olympic send-off for Paul and Vanessa and I was shocked at how many people in the Scarborough club and their friends and family that came out to support [them],” Desveaux said. “I think everyone here just feels more bonded.”
Desveaux expects the pair to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“They’re so young, they have another three Olympics left in them,” Desveaux said.
Crone and Poirier will return to the international ice dancing circuit with renewed competitive hunger.
“They’re going to the world championships in March in Turin, Italy,” Finerty said. “And they’re aggressively going after that top 10 finish.”