A whistle went up from the crowd when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took their starting pose and Virtue ran her hand provocatively up Moir’s thigh.
Virtue and Moir captured gold at Skate Canada International on Saturday, and earned rave reviews for their debut of their “Carmen” program — displaying a much more mature side to the cute twosome that became Canada’s favourite couple at the Vancouver Olympics.
“It’s impossible to do anything too sexy,” said their coach Marina Zoueva. “Is it sexy or is it not sexy? It is sexy because it is ‘Carmen.’ It’s different. I really wanted to show, especially for Tessa, a new way to go, show different aspects of her talent as a performer.
“It is a drama, it is a sexy drama.”
The 23-year-old Virtue, wearing a black backless dress with plunging neckline, and the 25-year-old Moir, scored 104.32 points for their free dance, bringing the crowd at the WFCU Centre to its feet. They finished with 169.41 overall.
Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who trailed the Canadians by just 0.01 points after Friday’s short dance, won the silver with 160.06.
Russians Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko won bronze with 143.39.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., finished fourth, while Toronto’s Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill were eighth.
Barely a year out from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Virtue and Moir stressed the importance of always pushing the envelop. They worked with modern dance teacher Jennifer Swan, who helped them develop their Pink Floyd program several years ago.
“Obviously, our take on ‘Carmen’ there is some sexuality to it,” Moir said. “It kind of really spoke to us. It’s one of those programs were we kind of make the storyline with meaning behind it. But people kind of interpret it their own way, which is good.
“I don’t think you can do Carmen without that element,” Virtue added. “There’s such a sexuality and also just the rawness of it. That’s what we tried to portray. None of our movements are without purpose.”
None of their movements are simple either. Virtue said every spin and lift in their program is new to the sport.
That can hurt them in the marks early in the season — they botched a difficult list in Friday’s short program and lost major marks.
“We’re not doing the same things we’ve done year after year, absolutely every element was brand new, and we’re trying to push it,” Virtue said. “It’s a risk that we wanted to take and we believe we’re strong enough to train through that.”
The Canadians aren’t afraid to take risks to further their sport.
“It was tough [Friday], but we talked about that this morning, we would rather be pushing the sport, pushing ourselves to do new things. . . ,” Moir said. “We want things to be different, we want to be original, and it’s about building us as better skaters toward our goal which is in March, which is winning another world championships.
“It’s also a better legacy, that’s how we want to be remembered, we don’t want to do the same tricks four years in a row, we want every year to come out with something new.”
The opera “Carmen” tells the story of the soldier Don Jose, who is seduced by the Gypsy Carmen. He leaves his childhood sweetheart and the military to pursue Carmen, but kills her in a jealous rage after she falls in love with a toreador.
The music is one of the most-used pieces in figure skating. There were three performances on Saturday alone — the others were by Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, who won gold in women’s singles, and the Italian runners-up in the dance.
Virtue and Moir will be gunning for their third consecutive world figure skating title in London, Ont., in March.