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Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir named CBC Sports Canadian Athletes of the Year

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Everything that can be said about Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir pretty much has already been said — and deservedly so.

The iconic ice dancers who enthralled Canadians for years concluded their illustrious careers with not one, but two gold medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The subsequent celebrations and farewell tour gave their many admirers one last chance to see Tessa and Scott — their fans always call them by their first names — and to reflect on a partnership that has spanned two decades.

Now it’s our turn. Naming Tessa and Scott the CBC Sports Canadian Athletes of the Year gives us another opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to relive a moment that captivated an entire nation in 2018.

Take a look back at Tessa and Scott’s career together:

A look back at Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s figure skating legacy, set to Jim Cuddy’s “Pull Me Through”.​ 4:32

It could have all ended much differently at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

Tessa and Scott entered the free dance with an incredibly slim lead over France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, despite breaking their own record score in the short dance the night before.

That, plus two American pairs within striking distance, left every conceivable outcome in play — from gold to missing the podium outright. Things only became more tense when Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, skating before Virtue and Moir and seemingly unfazed by a costume malfunction that marred their short dance the day before, set a new world record in the free program.

The French team’s performance, set to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, mesmerized the judges, who gave them the highest overall score ever.

In that moment, the chance of a golden send-off for Tessa and Scott seemed to be slipping away. To eclipse their French training partners — how’s that for additional intrigue? — they would need to surpass their previous personal best in the free skate and shatter a freshly minted world record.

No matter what, it would still be a fine farewell for the venerated Canadians, who had won a team-event gold in Pyeongchang to go along with their ice dance title from Vancouver in 2010 and a pair of silvers from Sochi. Tessa and Scott took the ice as fans around the world watched in quiet anticipation. That silence would not last long.

Watch Tessa and Scott’s full free dance:

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s free program from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. 9:07

The Moulin Rouge free routine was a perfect fit — a dance exuding the raw passion the duo became famous for.

As the spectacle unfolded on the ice, any feelings of doubt or uncertainty among their fans gave way, replaced with a sense of awe and an appreciation for what was happening.

The intimacy Tessa and Scott brought to that final routine made it seem as if everyone had a front-row seat to their performance — from those watching in their Ontario hometowns of London and Ilderton, respectively, to Canadians nationwide and fans glued to their screens at home or at viewing parties.

When the final note sounded, a roar erupted from the crowd in South Korea as the two embraced on the ice. The final scores came shortly after — Tessa and Scott would cap off their Olympic careers with gold around their necks and a new overall world record.

Watch highlights from Tessa and Scott’s farewell Olympics:

A look back on the final Olympic Games for Canadian figure skating legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. 5:46

The year 2018 was filled with remarkable performances by Canadians, and Tessa and Scott were far from the only ones considered for our Athletes of the Year.

Golfer Brooke Henderson, with her entire career still ahead of her, secured her place in the pantheon of great Canadian athletes by becoming the first woman in 45 years to capture the national title — against an immensely talented field of competitors, no less, at the CP Women’s Open.

Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond, another member of the Canadian squad who won Olympic team gold, went toe to toe with a pair of Russian titans to capture women’s bronze in Pyeongchang and later followed it up with a world championship crown.

On the subject of royalty, 2018 Lou Marsh Trophy winner Mikael Kingsbury captured a long-coveted Olympic moguls gold to go along with a pair of Crystal Globes from the World Cup circuit and is showing no signs of slowing down. He recently surpassed 50 career World Cup wins and has kept adding to his haul since then.

These impressive feats emphasize the elite company that Tessa and Scott found themselves in this year. Their final free skate will be remembered fondly as a moment that transcended sports and made Canadians feel united, however briefly, by the grace and power of two of their finest champions.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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