Tessa Virtue opens up about life after ice dancing: 'I can be Tessa'

Tessa Virtue is reflecting on her career as a professional athlete, one that lasted more than two decades. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)
Tessa Virtue is reflecting on her career as a professional athlete, one that lasted more than two decades. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

Tessa Virtue is reflecting on her career as an athlete.

The retired ice dancer and Olympic champion reflected on her career on the latest episode of Toronto podcast, "Power in Heels." In an episode released on Monday titled "Life Off The Ice," the 33-year-old opened up about her current professional pursuits and looked back at her life as a figure skater.

"I'm so fortunate that the first chapter of my life, the first 30 years, that I get to retire and then redefine what success looks like for me, what I want to pursue, who I want to be," Virtue explained, adding that she gets "a lot of joy and excitement" thinking about the future. "I know people are changing career paths more and more frequently now, but I feel so fortunate to have cultivated this certain platform and skillset that allows me to unabashedly say 'yes' to new things and dive into new challenges."

Born in London, Ont., Virtue is a three-time Olympic champion and five-time Olympic medallist, having won gold at the 2018 and 2010 Olympics, as well as silver in 2014 with 35-year-old retired ice dancer Scott Moir.

While Virtue admitted she misses skating and competing, she added that she finds satisfaction through an "exploration" of her own curiosity as she studies business and positive psychology.

"I really love being a student, I love learning, I love challenging myself," she said. "And I'm trying to embrace all of that. I'm trying to take that lesson and embrace all of that now, even if it's messy or confusing or uncertain, because that kind of flexibility and freedom to grow, I think it's a really beautiful place to be.

"While I feel like I'm drinking from the fire hose at the moment, I'm also so intellectually stimulated and engaged and interested. I feel like it's this confluence of all of the things that I'm passionate about... It feels like I'm kind of where I should be."

After spending 22 years in a professional partnership with Moir, the Canadian figure skating duo announced their retirement from the sport in September 2019.

Even though Virtue and Moir are Canada's most successful ice dance team in history, Virtue revealed that her athletic career wasn't as easy as it appeared.

She explained how she "never really minded" people criticizing her skill or appearance as an ice skater, but knew she was always being watched.

"I knew I was putting myself out there to be judged," she said. "The interesting thing about our sport, in particular, is that there are always eyes on you... In that world, you're always on, and that got to me a little bit. And then the inevitable rumours... When you put yourself in that place, people then make inferences or assumptions about the rest of your life and who you are. Reconciling that took some time."

Virtue shared that early on, she had to start ignoring other people's opinions.

"If I get too wrapped up in being conscious of how I'm seen or perceived, then I can't show up as my authentic self," she added. "Part of it, I just had to learn to let it go and realize that I'm in a new domain and I no longer have to be this master of a craft. I can be the rookie and I can be a sponge and just take it in, and I can be Tessa."

Towards the end of the podcast, Virtue gave a tidbit of advice for people entering a new chapter of their professional lives — just like she is.

"Just go for it and trust that you have the ability within you and the skillset to earn that place at the table," she challenged. "So often we hold ourselves back because of this imposter syndrome thing, or feeling like we don't have the right qualifications. If there's an opportunity, I think it's important to just seize it and run with it.

"No one else has it all sorted either, even if it looks like that from the outside."

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