At Montreal rink, fellow skaters and the Zamboni driver celebrate Virtue and Moir's victory
After Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir captured gold with a record-setting performance in Pyeongchang, there was a special feeling of pride among workers and fellow skaters at the Montreal sports complex where they train.
The pair spent long hours at the Complexe récréatif Gadbois, a community centre in the city's Southwest borough, in the months leading up to the Olympics.
"The man who sharpens their skates said, 'Oh, it's because of me.' And I said, 'No, it's because of my ice,'" Danielle Leblanc, a Zamboni driver at the rink, joked the morning after their big win.
The pair was a near-constant presence at Gadbois leading up to the Olympics in South Korea, Leblanc said.
Their training day would often begin as early as 7 a.m. and continue late into the afternoon.
"They were always smiling," she said. "They are true professionals."
Virtue and Moir moved to Montreal after coming out of retirement two years ago to train with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon at Gadbois, an aging brick building in the shadow of the crumbling Turcot Interchange.
They worked at the centre alongside their rivals, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, who won silver on Tuesday, and other aspiring Olympians from around the world.
Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette, 19, and his partner, Ellie Fisher, 16, also train at Gadbois. Fisher said she cried after watching the amazing performance.
For Malette-Paquette and Fisher, they were the perfect role models.
"They are just great practice mates — whether at 7 a.m. or 4 p.m., they are always so pumped up. You can see their passion for the sport. And it's very, very inspiring to train with them," Malette-Paquette said.
Kess Notargiacomo, a hockey player with the Dawson Blues, a CEGEP hockey team, said they are humble, too.
"Every time I'd see them on Tuesday mornings, because they'd practise at the same time [in adjacent rinks], both of them would go out of their way to ask how I was — they didn't even know me — and ask about our team," she said.
"They were so interested in us. We were so interested in them, but they'd ask about us, when our next game was."