Last week was the first time that Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir appeared on the radar of many armchair Olympic viewers. They became an instant internet sensation for their oozing chemistry during a sultry skate to a Moulin Rouge! mashup of “El Tango de Roxanne” and “Come What May.” The routine was so physical, apparently, that a risqué lift in the program had to be altered at the last minute. Nevertheless, the sexual tension came through loud and clear. “THE CANADIANS ARE ICE FUCKING,” GQ’s Caity Weaver quipped.
The salacious showcase launched a wave of speculation that the allegedly platonic pair was an item. But given that Virtue and Moir (a) have been skating together for 20 years, (b) are both objectively hot, and (c) have occasionally engaged in warm-up kisses, the 2018 Pyeongchang Games are far from the first moment that they’ve been accused of performing moves like this off the ice. In fact, Virtue and Moir are the Leo and Kate of the figure skating community. Some superfans compile threads of feel-good GIFs and quotes from family, coaches, and friends about Virtue and Moir’s relationship. Others write fan fiction about the lingering rumors of an unconfirmed romance. And then there’s a small contingent of conspiracy theorists who have let their imaginations and Google searches run wild, and believe that the pair is secretly married with a baby.
Because I am dedicated to my craft, I’ve taken it upon myself to thoroughly investigate this speculation, and the more general possibility that Virtue and Moir feel some smidgen of romantic feeling toward each other. Drawing from the vast internet archive of Virtue-Moir public appearances, performances, and all seven episodes of their incredibly polite 2014 reality television show, Tessa & Scott, I have compiled a comprehensive history of the finest Canadian celebrity couple there ever was. (Or wasn’t.)
Let’s start with that secret baby rumor. Though it’s difficult to trace where it originated, examining a shantytown of Blogspots indicates that it first appeared in 2010, around the time that Virtue underwent the second surgery of her skating career. Virtue’s explanation for the procedure, and subsequent pause from skating competitions, was that she needed to relieve lingering pain in her shins and calves caused by something called chronic exertional compartment syndrome. According to VM (Virtue-Moir) shippers, though, the real reason she took time away from skating was that she was busy giving birth to her hunky ice skating partner’s child.
The conspiracy theory goes like this: Virtue’s first trimester supposedly took place sometime around the 2010 Calgary Stampede. (I have no idea what this is, but it sounds deeply Canadian.) There, the two performed to the John Mellencamp song “Jack and Diane,” in Western garb, and one commenter noted, “Unlike all other outings of that particular exhibition, Tessa wore an undershirt that handily covered her midriff that was bare in all previous performances. Think it might have been to hide something, like abdominal muscles that were starting to stretch and separate a bit as her uterus rose out of her pelvis?”
From there, the so-called evidence multiplied. Practically every televised interview featuring the two was picked apart by fans in search of hidden meanings. After Virtue and Moir were asked about her injury on a Canadian radio show a year later, a fan who runs the Blogspot Dubemoir posited that the conversation was really about this secret pregnancy, and created a frame-by-frame analysis of Moir’s expressions to suggest he was lying. Abraham Zapruder, eat your heart out.
In another post from 2013, the same author doubles down on the theory:
“Can’t they say the words—not ‘we’re not dating’ but ‘We’re not married’ and, more to the point ‘We’re not parents,’” the post reads. “Can’t they say that? … Hell, they could wank it and say we have no ‘SECRET’ baby as the baby is not a secret to anyone who can work their six degrees of separation down to a reliable source. That would be just semantics.”
(The name Dubemoir, by the way, comes from an old rumor that Moir was dating fellow Canadian skater Jessica Dubé. This is one of several intra-ice skating affairs VM fans have invented over the years. They get after it. )
As far as conspiracy theories go, this one is extremely weak. Unlike the dubious but captivating 2011 rumor that Beyoncé faked her pregnancy, there is no Wendy Williams–narrated play-by-play of footage from an Australian talk show. The explanations for why Virtue never actually showed during her alleged pregnancy are laughable, and bounce between arguments that some women don’t show until their third trimester and that others carry their baby “towards the back.” Cross-referencing the dates of public appearances with a potential pregnancy timeline also proves useless, because Virtue has stayed trim her entire life. Of course, that hasn’t stopped fans from posting conspiracy theory art like this:
I’m going to make the call now: There is no Moir toddler. But given that the pair’s public appearances continue to fuel a Jim-and-Pam level of inquiry, it’s only natural to ask: Will they? Won’t they? Or have they already?
To understand their romantic potential, it’s helpful to know that they first began skating together as kids. As slick an ice dancing couple as they are now, Moir and Virtue haven’t always been dazzling. “We were terrified to hold hands for quite a while,” Moir recently said. Exhibit A: two screenshots of them dancing as teens:
That’s elite, oh-god-I-popped-a-boner-at-a-middle-school-dance-level hand placement, if I ever saw it. And the two did briefly date as kids. Moir was 9 and Virtue was 7. It lasted for eight months, until Moir broke up with Virtue on a phone call. As he put it in a 2010 interview—in which the two also confessed to synchronizing their breathing—“We just left it on the sidelines.”
The chemistry on display in Pyeongchang is perhaps better explained by a scene from the pair’s extremely enjoyable reality TV series, Tessa & Scott. After their coach criticizes their lack of connection, the two call on French Canadian ballroom dancing champion Jean-Marc Généreux for help. He then instructs Moir to run his hands down Virtue’s body in the most seductive way possible while Virtue makes pleased expressions—an exercise they’ve apparently been doing since 2002. “I want you to look at this guy like he’s … a piece of meat. I mean a filet mignon, and you really would like to have a bite,” says Généreux, as Moir caresses Virtue.
My expertise in figure skating may be based only on watching the Olympics every four years and this entire season of Tessa & Scott, but I’m pretty sure feigning attraction is something that every serious figure skating pair (with the exception of brother-sister duos like the Shib sibs) must actively address. Beyond landing the technical moves, selling the story of a performance is crucial to success—and to becoming a meme.
Aside from providing a front-row seat to steamy choreography workshops, Tessa & Scott is a helpful source for discerning other nebulous forces at play. Like any good reality TV show, it’s edited to accentuate the mystery of their partnership, which Moir’s parents compare to a marriage at one point. “People search their whole lives for someone that special, and we have that, and we feel very fortunate,” Tessa says in the first episode. “It’s really tricky to find someone who understands the relationship that Tessa and I have, because it’s unique,” Moir adds in a separate interview.
The most notable part of this series to VM shippers is that, throughout the competition season, Moir never introduces his girlfriend, Cassandra, to Virtue. They’re serious enough to exchange “I love yous” over Skype, and for her to fly to Paris to watch him compete, yet she appears purposefully shielded from his close skating partner. If you ask me, it seems like the kind of thing a person might do if he were secretly in love with someone else. Virtue, however, offers her own theory: “I think Scott tries to separate his personal life and his skating life.”
After sifting through everything, I am ready to present my own theory, which doesn’t involve a secret baby, but is still wildly speculative. I think that Virtue and Moir are physically attracted to each other. I think that attraction enhances their work, but that they find the prospect of mixing their professional lives with their romantic interests too risky while competing. And I think this unresolved sexual tension is what enables them to be exceptional at producing NC-17-rated ice dances to the deeply unsexy Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, and to produce photos that look like this:
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right. I think that Virtue and Moir are great not in spite of being platonic, but because of it. As a newfound VM shipper, I say this with a heavy heart: This may just be the rare instance where abstinence is the better option.
Well, at least for now, anyway.