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Ice dancers Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir named team of the year

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TORONTO — The pressure at Gangneung Ice Arena was palpable. The world was watching. But in what was among the most memorable four minutes of the Pyeongchang Olympics, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir delivered the skate of their lives.
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  • TORONTO — The pressure at Gangneung Ice Arena was palpable. The world was watching. But in what was among the most memorable four minutes of the Pyeongchang Olympics, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir delivered the skate of their lives.

    A world record total score, and a third gold medal that made the Canadian ice dance darlings the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history. Virtue and Moir perfectly executed a golden plan they’d announced — to mixed reviews — when they’d returned to the sport 18 months earlier.

    “When we announced our comeback, no one was happy, competitors, skaters, family, friends, even our governing body, everyone was surprised, because it was such a risk,” Virtue said. “Maybe because we believed in ourselves and believed in what we could pursue, we felt there was so much more to do.”

    On Friday, Virtue and Moir were rewarded for their historic comeback performance by winning the The Canadian Press team of the year award for 2018. The ice dancers picked up 39 of 54 votes (72.2 per cent) in a poll of writers, broadcasters and editors from across the country.

    “Virtue and Moir … it’s up there with Torvill and Dean now,” said Wayne Chamberlain, sports editor of Postmedia’s Editorial Services. “They captivated a global audience with their swan song performance and made many a Canadian eye tear up.”

    The Canadian junior hockey team that won gold at the 2018 world junior championships in Buffalo was second with five of 54 votes (9.3 per cent), while Laval’s football team that went undefeated and captured the Vanier Cup was third with four votes (7.4 per cent).

    “It’s so incredible, I was looking back at the history of this (award) to get some perspective and just trying to understand how 10 months later people still seem to care, or remember us, and it’s a great moment to reflect,” Virtue said. “Of course it’s the end of the year, but 10 months after the Games, it’s a nice chance to just take a moment and reflect on the impact at the Olympics had across Canada.”

    Golfer Brooke Henderson captured the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award on Wednesday as the year’s top female athlete, while freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury won the Lionel Conacher Award as the top male athlete on Thursday.

    Partners for two decades, Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., had been melting hearts since they claimed gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. They stepped away from the sport for two seasons after their silver in Sochi, returning with a single-minded focus of gold in South Korea.

    Virtue and Moir held a slim lead over Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France after the short dance, despite the fact Papadakis skated most of the program with the clasp of her dress broken.

    The next night, when Papadakis and Cizeron recorded a world record in the free dance, Virtue and Moir were waiting in the wings fingers in ears. They purposely didn’t look at any television monitors.

    Then Virtue, in a gauzy backless red dress, and Moir, channelling his inner Ewan McGregor, brought the crowd to its feet with their breathtaking performance to music from “Moulin Rouge,” a movie they’d loved ever since they saw it together as kids.

    “We knew we were trained, we were fully confident in our preparation. We had never been in better shape mentally. We were laser focused,” Virtue said. “But that doesn’t take away the nerves and it certainly doesn’t take away the gravity of the pressure.

    “There were so many times throughout that day, and especially that half an hour leading into our final skate, where Scott just looked at me and reminded me: ‘You know, this is exactly what we asked for. This is what we wanted when we decided to come back to competition,’ . . .  a ‘bring it on’ sort of a thing. And it was terrifying and unsettling, daunting, and yet also really exhilarating.

    “That thrill of taking the ice on the world’s biggest stage, the pressure mounting, I think that’s the sort of exhilaration we’ll be chasing for the rest of our lives probably.”

    The duo were among the Games’ most popular athletes. Fans swooned to their chemistry and lapped up the Canadian “love story,” which wasn’t so much a love story as a tale of friends and business partners.

    “Virtue and Moir saved their best for last and captured Canada’s hearts with a flawless Olympic finale in a sport where judging means that is sometimes not enough,” said Dave Peters, the Montreal Gazette’s sports and photo editor.

    Virtue still hasn’t watched her performance from South Korea. She’s too much of a perfectionist. But millions of people have. Just one YouTube video of their Olympic free dance program has almost three million views.

    Virtue and Moir are the second figure skating duo to win the award, which was first presented in 1966 to the Montreal Canadiens. Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won it in 2001.

     

    Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press


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    Alberta’s Parker Thompson in pole position in first of 2 weekend races! – details and link to live racing here

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  • Photos courtesy – RMAC Motorsports Photography

    Parker Thompson Teams Up with Speedstar Motorsport to Race the Canadian Touring Car Championship

    Parker Thompson has been enlisted by adventurous Canadian race team, Speedstar Motorsport (SSM), to pilot the #1 Audi R8 LMS GT4 race car in the Canadian Touring Car Championship GT Sport class. The season opens this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park as part of the Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest. Thompson will start race 1 from pole position after setting the fastest time of any CTCC entrant during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session.

    Speedstar Motorsport has a rich history in the Canadian Touring Car Championship. With connections that extend all around the world, the team has also participated in China Formula Grand Prix, the infamous Macau FIA GT World Cup and recently challenged the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

    Parker Thompson

    “I want to express my gratitude to Albert Au and Frank Law of Speedstar Motorsport, and Michael Croxon at New Roads Automotive Group for this opportunity. I have a lot of respect for what they have accomplished in racing and look forward to building a relationship with their team. It is a dream of mine to get behind the wheel of an Audi GT car.  I’m excited about my future with the team and manufacturer as I put my mark on sportscar GT racing.”

    Frank Law – SSM Project Director

    “We are thrilled to have Parker joining us for the 2019 CTCC season. We’ve been very keen and have been following Parker throughout his outstanding open-wheel racing career. Ever since our initial conference with Parker, we have been very enthusiastic about the prospect of having him join our team. We have heard great passion from Parker about our team accomplishments and future goals. Additionally, partnering with Parker is in line with our team vision to develop young, talented Canadian drivers within the GT car family. Great to welcome Parker, and have him represent our team, sponsors and manufacturer!”

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND LINKS

    Speedstar Motorsport – https://speedstar.com/motorsport/
    Canadian Touring Car Championship – https://touringcar.ca
    Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest  – Full Event Schedule (PDF)

    CTCC Event One Schedule at Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest

    Race 1– Saturday May 18th, 2019, 08:00 – 08:40 EST – LIVE STREAM HERE
    Qualifying 2 – Sunday May 19th, 2019, 09:00 – 09:30 EST
    *Race 2– Sunday May 19th, 2019, 17:35 – 18:15 EST – 
    LIVE STREAM HERE


    About Parker Thompson

    Red Deer, Alberta native Parker Thompson is regarded as one of Canada’s premiere racing drivers. He started racing karts at age 8 and his natural talent and competitive drive quickly elevated him to international level competitions. By age 13 he was ranked 3rd in the world in Rotax Max karts. Now 21 years old, Parker continues his successful career racing on the Road to Indy, and in multiple sports car series.

    About SpeedStar Motorsport (SSM)

    Based out of Markham, Ontario, Speedstar Motorsport has a background in motorsports that dates back to 2006. The team has a winning history in the Canadian Touring Car Championship, Porsche GT3 Cup,  China Formula Grand Prix and Macau FIA World Cup. SSM recently partnered with Belgium based WRT to contend in the Rolex 24hrs of Daytona. The team took their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to a 3rd place finish in GTD.


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    The hardest choice of this long weekend: Raptors or ‘Game of Thrones’?

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    TORONTO — As a “Game of Thrones” fanatic who is also a devoted Toronto Raptors fan, Oriana Di Nucci finds herself weighing the pros and cons of what to watch this Sunday when the fantasy saga concludes at the same time her beloved team h…


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  • TORONTO — As a “Game of Thrones” fanatic who is also a devoted Toronto Raptors fan, Oriana Di Nucci finds herself weighing the pros and cons of what to watch this Sunday when the fantasy saga concludes at the same time her beloved team hosts its first home game of the NBA Eastern Conference final.

    Despite the ubiquity of on-demand viewing, watching event programming live on a traditional television is still the preferred mode to experience mammoth meme-able moments, says the pop culture junkie. But she is still kicking herself for switching to “Game of Thrones” last Sunday just before Kawhi Leonard scored an astonishing buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the playoffs’ second round.

    This Sunday will feature a similar double-draw, when the most critical moments of the Raptors’ Game 3 will almost certainly overlap with the first half-hour or so of the “Game of Thrones” 80-minute finale.

    But Game 3 is a much different proposition than a deciding Game 7, says Di Nucci, who will risk missing another Raptor moment to watch “Game of Thrones” live with her family.

    “I’m really bad at accidentally spoiling things a lot. It’s not good for me and my friends who hadn’t watched it yet,” she explains, expecting both social media and traditional media to be awash with GoT details Sunday night and Monday morning.

    Despite pronouncements that event television is dead, Di Nucci believes the fear-of-missing-out drives many to the tube, often with friends and family in tow.

    And anyway, the advent of time-shifting and on-demand viewing has addressed remote control battles that would have split family viewing just a few years ago, adds sports fan Keith Morris.

    “I’m in my thirties and I remember back then Dad would have been downstairs watching the game and somebody else that was into the show would have been upstairs,” he says, noting screens are also more likely to run simultaneously in the same room.

    “But now with technology you can kind of do it all.”

    This Sunday, Morris will be at his friend’s condo with about 10 others for what’s primarily considered a GoT finale party. But the game will be on, and he expects most guests to trickle in during the second quarter.

    It’ll be especially hard to avoid Raptors fever when they return home Sunday, even with a “Game of Thrones” finale, he predicts.

    “The city is definitely on fire. We have a chance this year,” says the Missouri-born Morris, also devoted to watching the St. Louis Blues chase the NHL’s Stanley Cup.

    Raptors fan Heba Habib of Pickering, Ont., says the choice isn’t hard for her, since Crave makes “Game of Thrones” available as soon as it airs on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. Generally speaking, she ignores linear broadcast.

    “I’ve never really watched television live. I normally watch on-demand, or I watch whenever I have the time. It’s only live games that I normally watch (live),” says Habib, who’ll join a dozen friends to watch Sunday’s game, followed by “Game of Thrones.”

    She says her parents will stay home to focus on the game. 

    Indeed, the proliferation of mass media has actually made the notion of mass consumption less and less the reality, says York University film professor John McCullough.

    “That’s the contradictory thing,” he chuckles. “It seems we have more mass media at our disposal nowadays but in fact the way that mass media (and) content is produced is actually (encouraging) fragmented audiences.”

    That was certainly the case last week for Di Nucci, who watched the Raptors with her sister and parents on the living room TV until she and her father commandeered the set for “Game of Thrones.”

    Her mom and sister were relegated to an upstairs bedroom to finish the game between the Raptors and visiting Philadelphia 76ers. Di Nucci soon realized that was a mistake “based on their yelling and running around.”

    “The timing was not great, right? sighs the 21-year-old.

    “I wish I saw Kawhi’s last shot live. I wish I saw it in the moment, but it happens. It happens. I’ll be there for the next one. I’ll be there for the next big win.”

    Bell Media says “Game of Thrones” has been averaging 2.5 million viewers each week in its Sunday 9 p.m. ET time slot, with no indication that fans delayed viewing habits for the Raptors.

    Sportsnet says last Sunday’s Game 7 attracted an average audience of 2.2 million viewers, a big jump over a typical game. A peak audience of 3.8 million tuned in to catch Leonard’s buzzer-beater.

    If Di Nucci had another screen available at the time, she expects she would have caught Leonard’s shot but she was using her phone to text a friend during “Game of Thrones,” which was being streamed to the television via her laptop.

    There’s no escaping spoilers when a popular entertainment juggernaut captivates social media, says Meg Wheeler of Toronto. For that reason, “Game of Thrones” trumps all viewing, and did so last Sunday when she convinced her partner to switch from Game 7 to watch the series live.

    “We are both so active on Twitter that we know it’ll get spoiled if we don’t watch it live,” says the 28-year-old, admitting to some regret for missing Leonard’s shot.

    “I don’t feel it was that big of a deal — I’ve seen it now so many times replayed — but there is something special about seeing it happen live. It’s one of those things where you would remember where you were when it happened.”

    Habib, meanwhile, has worked out key house rules for watching a delayed “Game of Thrones”: “Nobody can go on social media.”

    “We’re good. As long as it’s not a blowout, we will always watch Raptors first,” she says.

    Being respectful is key, adds Morris, citing past experience in asserting the difficulty of reading online leaks without spoiling the fun for others.

    “If they’re searching through Twitter or people are live tweeting and they’re reading it and they’re getting spoiled, you can kind of read on their face what’s going on,” he says.

    “That’s when we decided to say: ‘Everyone put your phones on the table and turn them over and for 20 minutes let’s just watch the rest of this game and be present in this Toronto moment.'”

    Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


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