Living

Olympics ice dancer Tessa Virtue shares her pre-games superstition

Canada’s sweetheart and gold-medal-winner gives us a peek into her stunning new house and talks Sochi jitters.

 

Olympics ice skater Tessa Virtue

Tessa in the freshly decorated living room she designed at her new home in London, Ont.; Photo, Sian Richards.

Age: 24

Occupation: Ice dancer

Hometown: London, Ont.

For the past three years, ice dancer Tessa Virtue has been living a version of Groundhog Day. From Monday to Friday, she’s on the ice for three hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. Then she swaps skates for runners and hits the gym or is in the studio practising daring new lifts. “Then it’s physio, massage, school, rinse, repeat,” she says. “There are very few moments when I’m not thinking about the Olympics. I imagine what it’s going to feel like when I put my skates on and step onto the ice.”

For the London, Ont., native, it’s a dream that’s been in the making for over 16 years. Tessa paired up with partner Scott Moir when she was just seven and has been with him ever since, a rare feat considering how many skaters jet across the world, even change citizenships, just to find the perfect partner. “We grew up 10 minutes from each other,” she says. “He’s been my one and only partner. Our bodies move together without us even having to think about it.” But, no, they are not a couple, Tessa emphasizes (no matter how much their fans want them to be).

Tessa Virtue's books and photos, including a shot from the Vancouver Olympics

Tessa’s books and photos, including a shot from the Vancouver Olympics; Photo, Sian Richards.

Tessa grew up in an extremely sports-oriented family. “My dad is really athletic, and my mom is a great dancer, which turned out to be a good mix for me.” As the youngest of four, she’s not the only one who benefited from those athletic genes: Her two older brothers played competitive hockey, baseball and football, and her sister was a gymnast.

Her sense of style was inherited from her mother. “My mom taught me how to make things classic and timeless. I used to follow her around when I was little and pretend to be an interior designer, sharing my opinions. When we had a party, I would set the table and make little candle displays.”

Tessa-Virtue's-Chanel-inspired-glam-black-and-white-bathroom

Tessa’s bathroom was inspired by Chanel’s iconic packaging; Photo, Sian Richards.

Tessa was finally able to flex her design muscles when she recently renovated a 100-year-old house in London. She kept the home’s original charm intact, transforming the space with pops of modern art amid French antique furnishings and family heirlooms.

She’s as much of a traditionalist on the ice. Before every competition, Tessa sleeps in her grandmother’s worn green T-shirt, puts her left skate on first, then fastens a safety pin to her costume for luck. “I’m very superstitious!” she says, laughing.

So far it’s been a winning formula. At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Tessa and Scott twirled their way to the podium — the first time a North American pair had ever snatched the coveted top spot.

And while the pressure’s on again for the duo, Tessa just wants to enjoy the amazing electric buzz of the Olympics. “There’s a real sense of pride of getting to wear Canada on your back. That’s the best.”

 

Tessa’s telling details . . .

I define downtime as . . . not having anything scheduled!

I wish I had more time for . . . friends.

My favourite quote is . . . “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me” (Ayn Rand).

I wish I was better at . . . cooking.

My favourite moment of the day is . . . that first sip of coffee!

My perfect day would be . . . waking up in Paris, window-shopping and indulging in a Nutella-banana crepe.

My guiltiest pleasure is . . . Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt.

Tessa-Virtue's-home-white-bedroom

The headboard was made by her grandfather, Tessa painted it white; Photo, Sian Richards.

 

Five things Tessa can’t live without

My grandmother’s necklace “Nonee and I were extremely close. Wearing her gold chain makes me feel like she’s always with me.”

Fresh flowers “I love treating myself to peonies, hydrangeas or tulips. They make me so happy!”

Covergirl Clump Crusher Mascara “If I could have only one beauty product, this would be it.”

Coffee-table books “No e-reader for this girl!

Jenny Bird Netted Bucket Purse “This is my everyday must-have accessory right now.”