guest of scott moir

as the tip of my pen hovered over the document i had to sign to acknowledge that i had received my stars on ice pre-show pass, i took the time to read what it said and grinned. i glanced up at the curly haired-air canada centre teller and told her, "this is so cool". she laughed. clearly written on the envelope were the words, "guest of moir".

a few days before that, i'd arrived home at midnight to find an email from stars on ice, which said that the registration for the toronto meet and greet closed at 5 p.m. i raised my dark eyes and stared out my window, wondering what to do because i wanted to meet tessa and scott. most the time, they're in another country, but on friday, they were going to be in my city, nine rows away, under the spotlight. i refocused and sent a reply to stars on ice, explaining who i was, what i did and why i wanted this chance. "is anything possible?" the next day, an img exec sends me an email saying that his team will leave a pre-show pass for me at the will call booth and "tessa and scott will try to catch up with you then." but as i stood in front of the booth, i was just so surprized to see the pass attributed to scott. i was kind of stuck on the try part. a meeting wasn't exactly guaranteed but with this neat little personal touch, i started to feel like maybe, just maybe it was possible.

still, at the even the slightest chance that i could meet the greatest canadian ice dancers of all time, i knew that i had to do something, for them and for their other fans. i typed up a post on fsu, letting everyone know what was going on, and finally pressed submit, giving fans about 36 hours to write something and submit it to me. i tagged certain people on twitter and linked them to the post. i knew that that would be enough to spread the word. and then cherub was inspired to finish her epic quote collection. basically, we know that tessa and scott have fans, not only in the audience, but in their figure skating community. fellow skaters, coaches and journalists have praised them over the years and she has been collecting those quotes for months. eventually, you'll get to read it here on the blog, but we wanted to give it to tessa and scott. the editor in me knew that it'd be best to keep both projects separate so i did. i ended up creating a book of letters and a book of quotes.

both books, right after they were created

this project, from the get-go seemed like a pretty big job, a worldwide endeavour with fans done in the shortest possible time. i actually gave 24 hours notice at first, but that seemed cruel so i extended it until i was working on the books till the last minute. but i just couldn't not share. that said, i didn't put as much pressure on myself as i could have. i didn't end up saying that i wanted to record what was going on. i knew that i'd try, but i wasn't exactly sure if it'd work. i only had a camera on my phone and for the life of me, i couldn't figure out how to connect my android to my computer. and no associate at telus knew how. two days before stars on ice, i went to a session with a telus learning specialist and made it happen. i experimented with recording things all morning on friday, but when you watch the videos below, keep in mind that i've a way with words, not cameras -- at least not right now. i also made sure to clear the memory on my phone because who knew how much this would take and i charged it the night before. my phone at least was ready.

still, as i walked out of the tunnel that connects the historic union station with the air canada centre and stood in skinny jeans, flats and a trench coat to stare for a second at the billboard of glowing lights which announced that stars on ice would be playing tonight at 7:30, i didn't know what would happen in the pre-show. but no matter what, i'd make sure tessa and scott would get the two books. i adjusted my bags and moved my hair out of my face before going to the right, where the will call booth is located.

about an hour later, i walked down the concrete steps in the arena and looked out to the ice, where the first set of skaters were warming up. i immediately saw tessa skating by, looking focused. scott was at the other end. i also saw an immediate problem: i'm here. they're there. and, according to a security guard, row 11 was as far as the fans were going to get. i looked at what was going on around me and realized that it wasn't going to just happen so i focused on what i wanted before taking a few people aside, shaking a few hands and talking to more people to follow up ... in the end, i think i ended up talking to someone from img, which was great because the stars on ice team didn't know anything about this. he assured me that once tessa and scott were done with their practice, i'd get to see them.

for the next ten or so minutes, i sat in my chair, legs crossed with my bags at my feet, fiddling with the camera on my phone as the practice went on. my camera recorded when i thought it wasn't. it didn't when i thought it did. the footage i did get looked dark and far away when i reviewed them ... i resolved to get this filming thing together before i saw tessa and scott, but i did manage to capture these moments:


practising the split lift in "stay"

 taking a break during practice


"misha," the stars on ice coordinator called out from a few rows down. i looked up as she waved me over. i saw tessa behind her, stepping off the ice and unto the on-ice platform, ready to talk to me. once i reached that area and i put my bags down by a chair, i straightened up and saw that tessa was just staring at me with a smile on her face, so calm. i smiled back and said, "hi! i'm a big fan". she smiled brighter. "is it misha or mischka?" she asked, curious about how to say my name. "misha," i replied. i shook her hand and told her that i've been a long time fan. i knew about them back with valse triste and i've followed them ever since. tessa seemed delighted. i thought that, in the end, i would only talk to tessa, but then scott skates over, steps off the ice and gives me a hug.

i think scott was the one who asked if i figure skate and that's why i keep the blog. i told him, no. so they wondered how i became interested in figure skating. the answer is relatively simple. i've long followed canada's ice dancing greats. first, bourne and kraatz then dubreuil and lauzon and now them. then they started to tell me how amazed they are with my blog. i know more about them than they do. they consult it sometimes when they have to remember something. they couldn't imagine the amount of hard work that goes into it. amused, i told them that now, because they introduced me to rihanna's "stay", i use it as a soundtrack while i work. they laughed. we chatted a bit more, but i'm standing there, looking at them in disbelief. first, they're really tall, especially in skates. i'm not a short person and i felt like i was looking up to them, literally. also, they look exactly like how they do in photos. that should seem obvious but as i looked at them, it felt like i was looking at an off-ice photo. they looked picture perfect (photoshop perfect, really) but this time, the image was actually real. and my god, they're absolutely gorgeous. picture are true to form, but pixels on a screen can't really do them justice. they were radiant. they were also incredibly articulate and relaxed, with each other and me.

i grinned then looked at the books in my hands. glancing up, i told them that when i knew that i had even a chance to meet them, i couldn't keep it just to myself. i worked with other fans so that we could have something to give them. their faces just lit up. tessa received cherub's book of quotes and scott received our letters. i know this moment wasn't just for me so i took my camera and started to record their reaction. i hope they're used to this ... that someone can't just talk to them as tessa and scott. they've become a hero for many and capturing their moments of joy and appreciation becomes really important because all the people who'd want to see this aren't standing here with them.

 tessa and scott when they first received the books

once again, they couldn't believe that i'd put something so special together for them. scott was impressed with the book of letters. i told them about the 2011 finlandia photographs i'd chosen for the cover and they gushed about the photographers from finland. tessa and scott already know how amazing they are. tessa deeply appreciated the book of quotes and i told her who was responsible for putting it together. "wow. that's really special. thank you for taking the time to do that." then i told them about the questions. i had put a page full of questions at the end of cherub's book and we turned to that section. i asked them if there was a question they wanted to answer now. tessa thought about it and said that the "stay" question was okay. so i asked if i could record them answering it. they agreed. scott was pretty excited for this, waving to the camera. he's as loveable and fun loving in person as he seems on camera.

q and a with tessa and scott
tessa explained what their new exhibition means. "two broken people. two people who love each other, but just can't get their timing coordinated so they keep missing each other for whatever reason, for whatever circumstances. they're just two very vulnerable, emotionally disturbed people. it's kind of dark in that sense and there's a bit of angst. but the underlining theme is definitely that longing to be together." scott adds, "our story relates directly to the lyrics and we're kind of playing off that." and they mentioned how much they enjoyed choreographing it with jennifer swan, though they collaborated with marina a bit. "we delved into the meaning, not just skating, which is fun for us as performers."

tessa loved the costume question so picked it next. though she knew scott's answer, she couldn't think of one costume she regretted. scott said that she probably regretted the ones other people made her wear, but when she creates them herself, "you pretty much have a good sense of style".

tessa then answered the question about what it's like to work with jean marc généreux. they met him initially ten years ago when he and his wife, france, did a seminar in waterloo. "they made such an impact on us. i remember just taking to heart all the little lessons. and at that time for us, learning about leading and following." but tessa, laughing, said that she didn't think she learned that lesson very well. scott teased her, saying that she learned how to lead from jean marc and he learned how to follow from france. tessa loves his energy and recounted how special it was to work with him now. she then explained how jean marc puts together a program. "he has a great vision. it was also neat to work with him because, first things first, we wanted to figure out what costumes? who's your character? what kind of hairstyle do you have? is it late at night? are you walking in the park? are you inside or are you outside? where's the music coming from? all those questions before we even started moving. he really painted a picture before he saw the movement come together. that was kind of fun and different for us."

tessa then wanted to answer the gift question: "what's the gift given by the other that you like the most?" scott once gave her a marvin the martian body pillow for christmas gift, which he had wrapped in newspapers. they used to spend a lot of time in the car so she took that thing everywhere with her. "in training, we often reference marnie mcbean and she talks about filling your jar of rice. so every good thing you do, you're adding rice to the bucket." that metaphor, which marnie explains in her book, "the power of more", is described here as something that happens "beginning early in the process -- that is, in our preparation for a task. mcbean likens preparing for a goal to filling a cup with grains of rice, with each grain representing some time and effort that we contribute toward that goal. the contributions could be in the areas of physical conditioning, mental awareness, emotional well-being or health. the more grains of rice we add to our cup, the greater the likelihood of meeting our objective." tessa continued, "sometimes, when you have bad days, you're not necessarily taking rice out, but you're not adding any ... but you still have the bowl of rice."

when she brought up the a three-time olympic champion in rowing and her advice on adversity, i had to ask about how they deal with it. scott answered: "it's the path that makes us so strong ... i always think back to tessa's surgeries as really dark times but now that we've come through it, it's given us a lot of strength. we needed it definitely this year, going back, what to look for in terms of something to give us strength in the hard times and we were lucky that we were able to come together and do that." then tessa goes back to her rice analogy and the strength they needed to handle the 2012 worlds. "before the world championships last year in nice, my doorbell rang and i went downstairs and there was no one there, but there was this ginormous bucket full of rice. it was from scott and it basically said, look at how much rice we have kiddo. we have so much training behind us and we knew that we were ready. i thought that was probably the best gift that anyone has ever given me."

my dark brown eyes linger on the video for a moment, right now. i find it fascinating that they indicated how tumultuous the last two worlds were for them, but said it with such grace and perspective, getting to the point without belabouring it. when they finished, you understood their strength and their will to win ... and their determination to hold on to each other and preserve their own relationship in the midst of it all. these two have one of the longest lasting partnerships in figure skating.

now at this point in our meeting, i'm fascinated by tessa. i feel like having some fun so i decide to tell her about the recent polls for the best female ice dancer at fsu, that she wins them all and we all sit down to write down exactly why she's amazing. we mention it in the books they now have but i want to tell her right now. i know tessa is hard on herself when it comes to her skating, but i was surprized at how shocked she became but i wasn't surprized at how proud scott looked. i then looked at him, telling him how much we adored him, on ice and off. i stopped filming then, but immediately after scott started to tease me about why only the ladies get a poll. i paused to think of when we've had that poll last, while tessa laughed and scott grinned, "you don't have to answer that!"

around this time, i felt like i just wanted to put down the camera and talk to them. i also realized that they probably stayed for a long as they could. i asked them a few last questions, including what they were doing next and scott said that they'd finish the tour and get back to training. he could have said something about a vacation, but i don't recall that he did right then. anyway, they're quite serious about getting back to training. i took a few photos and then they were gone.

tessa as she's about to leave

scott as he's about to leave

i made my way back to my seat and spent the next half hour replaying those videos. i wanted to see if i could hear anything. i hoped i could. then i realized that you could hear me on the playback and threw my head back in embarrassment before brushing a dark lock of hair from my face. honestly, i wish i'd just let them talk on the videos and then spoke to them privately. i wondered if i could have asked better questions or mentioned more interesting things. i started to wish that i'd actually prepared to meet them on a personal level, not just put together a literary project while in the middle of a million other things. i would have done a few things different, like let them choose another and final question themselves. maybe i could have worn heels and stood high enough to look them straight in the eye.

i was so caught up in my little world that didn't even pay attention the second group of practice skaters, though that included kurt and patrick. but even i had to notice that long after every other skater had left, patrick was still out there, practising his "i need a dollar" exhibition. he's repeating moves over and over, making sure they're perfect. then my phone beeped and lights came on to tell me the battery was nearly dead. i turned it off, tucked it away in my bag and went out to the concourse, the show an hour or so away. i've a few thoughts on it, but i'll save that until another time.

to end this, though ... i'd like to thank the team at img who made this possible. stars on ice, as well. and, of course, tessa and scott. thanks for taking the time to come and talk to me. you seemed as fascinated with me as i was with you. as i stood and looked around the air canada centre, random people passing by, i couldn't help but think of all the other fans who were a part of this and, tonight, i hope that this gave you what you had hoped for.


Anonymous said...

You don't know how giddy this post made me! I'm so happy! I especially needed this with all the craziness going on lately. Thank you so much Misha for doing this! I've already read the post twice and now I'm going to watch the videos.

sybil branson said...

WOW tessa is so strong and amazing! i can totally picture them dancing to girl on fire by alicia keys for SOI because that song perfectly describes tessa!

bk said...

You are an amazing writer, you know, Misha/Iggie. That was so enjoyable to watch and to read. I felt like I was there. I didn't get around to sending you questions or quotes, but I want you to know, as a rabid V&M fan, I truely appreciate what you have done here. Thanks, Betsy