It has been a long time running for ice dancing duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but after a 22 year figure skating career, the pair are hanging up their skates as they officially announce their retirement from competitive figure skating.
This is a bittersweet moment for Canadians and figure skating fans across the world as they say farewell to ice dancing duo Virtue and Moir. After returning to the world stage one last time for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Virtue and Moir end their 22 year skating career together on a high with one more gold medal, making them the ‘most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history.’
The retirement video posted simultaneously by Virtue and Moir was trending within minutes on Twitter and flooded both, news and media outlets across the internet. Although the pair’s retirement announcement came as no surprise, Virtue and Moir’s parting words sparked a highly emotional reaction from fans across the globe as the ice dancing duo expressed their gratitude for the unwavering support they have received throughout their entire career. As Moir states, “we feel like the most fortunate kids in Canada still.”
Results from studying retirement from competitive sport seem to unfold as somewhat of a paradox. Indeed, sport sociologists have suggested that some athletes welcome retirement inasmuch as it may “allow them to pursue alternative activities more conducive to personal growth and development,” whereas other times, athletes retiring from competitive sport “are described as unwilling victims of circumstances causing them trauma, identity crises, loss of economic status, and the loss of meaningful social support from friends and fans.”
Having been placed in the figure skating spotlight at such a young age, it will be of interest to sport sociologists to continue to follow Virtue and Moir and the challenges they may or may not face following their retirement from competitive ice dancing. This is especially true considering that their 2018 Pyeongchang appearance was a comeback after a two year break from the skating world. Following the announcement of their return in 2016, Virtue stated: “After Sochi, we took time to do everything, step outside the skating world, and have lives — and it was wonderful, […] But there was a certain void that we tried to fill. And then over time, just realized we missed the structure of training and waking up with a purpose, and having goals in mind, daily goals, weekly goals, seasonal goals.”
Virtue’s comments concerning their previous ‘retirement’ seem to suggest that the pair may have struggled with a loss of meaning and purpose in their lives. Now retiring for a second time, it will be interesting to see how Virtue and Moir experience and cope with their exit from the rink this time around in comparison to their two year leave in 2016.