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my secret summer

During the 2010 Winter Olympics, the country held its breath as Canadian ice dancer Scott Moir hoisted his partner, Tessa Virtue, into a precarious pose known as The Goose - their signature lift and the pinnacle of their gold-medal-winning performance.

Six months later, the skating stars from London, Ont. are back in the rink, immersed in the less glamorous rituals of training and learning new choreography. One way they blow off steam? With a swing.

In an interview from their year-round training base in Canton, Mich., Ms. Virtue, 21, and Mr. Moir, 22, talked about their growing love of golf.

Let's get this out of the way: who's the better golfer?

TV: Scott is. I don't even keep score, if that tells you something.

SM: You're being modest. That was our big accomplishment this summer, getting you to start keeping score. But, yes, it's pretty obvious that we're both beginners. If we can get 100, we're happy.

When did you take up golfing?

SM: About three years ago, when we started getting a lot of opportunities to go to charity golf tournaments.

TV: I wanted to make it through a round without embarrassing myself. It's not a team sport like we're used to. We can work on our own games. Being competitive, we both got addicted.

Are you trash talking each other on the course?

TV: It's actually really good for the two of us to get out of our regular setting and to talk as friends. Funnily enough, it does transfer onto the ice because that part of the relationship is taken care of.

Is it hard to decompress when you come off the ice?

TV: Summer is our most intense training period and the most frustrating. Everything is new and not automatic yet, not in your body already. It's nice mentally and emotionally to have this other hobby.

SM: People always think we have the summer off, but it's the opposite. From our rink you can see through the glass to the weather outside, and on a nice day that's really tough.

What's a typical summer day for you?

SM: We start around 7 or 8 in the morning and do about four hours on the ice, with some breaks. Then we grab a snack and split up to do our off-ice training separately. We go to the gym, do some kind of dance practice. Usually we're done around 5 or 6, and then maybe we'll play a quick round.

You go from the rink to the course. Do you ever just lie on the beach?

SM: I think golf is more demanding when you're actually good at it. For us, it's relaxing.

TV: And we take a cart. We don't walk!

You seem drawn to sports that are often ridiculed for their fashion. Do you like them because of the clothes or in spite of the clothes?

TV: I love golf clothes. I have a lot of fun with the little golf skirts and vests. Oh yeah, I look the part.

In ice dancing, the scoring can be subjective. In golf it's more straightforward, but you can't blame the French judge for your performance.

TV: Part of the attraction to golf may be that it's just a score on the sheet and there's not much you can do about it.

SM: It's just about who can get the ball into the hole first; there's no judging. But we love the artistic side of skating, putting on a show and sharing our feelings with the audience.

Do you think the athleticism and grace of ice dancing make you a better golfer?

SM: There are a lot of similarities. When you're hitting a shot over the sandpit, you're always trying to positively visualize the perfect shot. Before we go out on the ice, we're doing the same thing, thinking about how we're going to execute the routine. Golf has taught me a lot about patience and keeping my temper.

TV: He's gotten so much better. His instinct used to be to throw the club.

Now, there's something you can't do in ice dancing.

SM: No, you shouldn't throw things from the ice.

TV: It's funny that I love golf so much because I'm not usually drawn to things I'm not so good at. It's all about practice and working and not getting discouraged.

What's the secret to a good swing?

SM: I'm always getting up behind the ball and trying to muscle through it, and that never works out. For me, it's about learning a nice, easy swing. I think about accuracy, getting the head of the club right behind the ball. It does translate to ice dancing, where accuracy is so important.

TV: Someone once told me that, because we're athletes, when we line up and visualize our shot our athleticism will guide our bodies. We have that body awareness and know how the body is moving through space.

It must be nice to play a sport with both feet planted firmly on the ground, as opposed to hurling through the air.

SM: Usually hurling means we're not doing our jobs very well.

TV: We might not be able to do all these crazy things like The Goose when we're older, but we'll always be able to golf.

Special to The Globe and Mail