As the Steven Stamkos news rippled through the athletes village at the Olympics Thursday morning, Canadian figure skater Scott Moir offered up a solution for hockey coach Mike Babcock.
“Me,” said Moir, who is going for two figure skating gold medals at these Winter Olympics, and wouldn’t mind contending for a third.
“I know Stamkos isn’t coming so maybe Babsy will throw me in,” he said. “I’m ready. I brought my gear.”
Moir was joking of course, but it spoke volumes about the Stamkos bombshell, that Canada would be without a key piece of its top line next week when the hockey begins.
Canadian athletes woke up to the news Thursday, and if Moir’s comments were any indication, word that Stamkos’s broken leg had not fully healed in time for Sochi had clearly generated some buzz around the breakfast table in the athlete’s village.
Moir, 26, is an ardent hockey fan, and played until he was about 14 before concentrating on figure skating. He smartly avoided answering the singular question now on every Canadian hockey fan’s mind: Claude Giroux or Martin St. Louis?
“Oh, I don’t care,” he said of who should replace Stamkos, sidestepping the potentially contentious debate. “Maybe they’ll throw me in there.”
Quips aside, the ability to win multiple medals at an Olympics is something Moir said many figure skaters have wanted but have never had the chance.
They will get that opportunity in Sochi, when the figure skating team event is competed for the first time at an Olympics. Each country will put forward skaters for every discipline, and the nation with the most points added together takes the gold.
The new event adds some camaraderie to what has historically been a sport based around individual performances, or pairs.
Moir said he’s often envied other sports, such as swimming or short track speed skating, where athletes are competing for multiple medals throughout the Olympics in different distances.
“It seems like every other day they’re going after another medal, and we are a little bit envious of that, so I guess that’s why we are so excited by this extra event,” Moir said of the team event, which begins Thursday night in Sochi.
Men’s skater Patrick Chan kicks off the event for Canada, along with pairs skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Though Canada may split some events between it’s top two skaters – for example having Chan skate the short program for the men and ceding the long program a few days later to Kevin Reynolds to preserve energy for their individual events – Moir said he and ice dance partner Tessa Virtue are hoping to skate both ice dance programs for the team.
Moir is the captain of the Canadian team, and Virtue is the assistant captain.The two said they had no rousing speech prepared for the rest of the squad, along the lines of what Babcock may deliver in the Canadian hockey dressing room.
“Not really,” said Moir. “You just try to create the right atmosphere, and our strategy is going to be to let everybody do their own job. You’re here for a reason you know what you’re doing and we’re just here to support you. That’s going to be my message… We have a chance to have an Olympic moment, and you go out and enjoy it.”