Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are a step closer to ending their Olympic careers with gold medals around their necks.
The three-time world champions and ice dancing partners for two decades scored 83.67 points in Monday’s short dance to "Sympathy for the Devil," "Hotel California," and "Oye Como Va," to sit first at the Pyeongchang Games. The score topped their own previous world mark of 82.68 set at Skate Canada International in October.
"That’s something we are really proud of," said Moir. "That is every athlete’s goal here and to come out and do the best you can. And to do it on this stage, we’re really, really proud of that. We know our work isn’t over. It’s a long event. The biggest chunk is tomorrow and we have to stay on our game."
French rivals Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron scored 81.93 for second.
Virtue, a 28-year-old from London, Ont., and the 30-year-old Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., won Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010. They lost to Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White four years later in Sochi, and then took two seasons off, returning in hopes of reclaiming gold.
Virtue and Moir, who will retire after Pyeongchang, were undefeated in their return until losing to Papadakis and Cizeron in the Grand Prix Final in December.
Canada’s other duos also qualified for the free dance, with Andrew Poje and Kaitlyn Weaver sitting eighth with 74.33 points and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirer earning 69.60 for ninth. The free dance is Tuesday.
"We tried to go there and really soak in the environment and the energy that is the Olympics," said Poje. "It’s an amazing experience to be part of the team here and the great environment of all the athletes."