Iconic Canadian sports with similarities and striking contrasts, the worlds of figure skating and ice hockey have recently collided with the emergence of Canada’s latest power couple: Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly.
Born in London, Ontario, Tessa Virtue began skating at the age of six, becoming inspired to take up the sport after a class trip to a local arena. At the age of seven, she was partnered up with Scott Moir, and the pair went on to become the duo that would transform the sport of ice dancing. Tessa and Scott skated together for over 20 years until they both retired in 2019, making them the longest, and most decorated, ice skating partnership in Canadian history.
Turning down an opportunity to study at the National Ballet School as a child, Tessa dedicated her entire life and career to figure skating, and her dedication and commitment to the sport clearly paid off. By the time she retired, Tessa was named one of the world’s most famous women athletes, the highest-ranked Canadian female athlete, and the second-highest ranked women’s winter-sport athlete. Along with her partner Scott, she became the fourth-most decorated Canadian Olympian ever, the first and only figure skating team to win gold in their Olympic debut, and the first North American ice dance team to win Olympic gold, ending Europe’s 34-year streak. In 2020, Tessa and Scott were inducted into the Order of Canada for their “athletic excellence and for inspiring a new generation of figure skaters.”
Since retirement, her career has taken a slight, highly-inspirational turn. Tessa is currently in the process of completing her Executive MBA degree from Queens University, after working through her Bachelor’s degree in psychology part-time throughout her skating career. She also recently started working at a global consulting firm. Balancing school and work is an accomplishment in and of itself but doing so after you’ve had one of the most decorated figure-skating careers in the world? Impressive.
Figure skating and hockey fans alike spent months during the early-pandemic days speculating on Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly’s relationship status, playing detective on social media and going as far as comparing kitchen sinks featured in Instagram stories (the fans needed to know). After making a quick appearance together on an Arkells’ Instagram live, questions were answered.
Drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft, defenceman Morgan Rielly has become a Toronto fan-favourite. Though he was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Morgan grew up a Leafs fan himself, thanks to some Ontario-based family members. Prior to his career in the league, Rielly played in the WHL and most notably, represented the country at the 2016 World Championship, where he brought home a gold medal for Team North America.
Late last year, Morgan Rielly signed an eight-year contract extension with the Leafs, making him the longest-tenured player on the team. Scoring 371 points in 651 games played throughout his regular-season career and 25 points in 39 playoff games, Morgan ranks seventh in all-time Maple Leafs defensemen in points and is tied for eleventh in goals and fifth in assists in the history of the team. His commitment to the team and his dedication to growing as a player is part of what drew the Leafs’ coaching staff to the idea of offering Morgan an extension. “There’s a reason why the organization has gone through a number of changes over the years but he’s the one guy who has lasted. That passion and commitment he has to the organization comes through in the way he conducts himself every day,” remarked head coach Sheldon Keefe.
When he isn’t serving as an alternate captain on the ice, Morgan Rielly takes pride in serving his community, having worked with various organizations throughout his time in Toronto, and pre-NHL, back in Vancouver. As a couple, the pair have been taking part in charitable events and helping with organizations together since they met, with their first “official” appearance together in early-2020 at an MLSE charity event. After confirming their relationship in 2020, the duo teamed up to donate over 1000 lunches to local Vancouver healthcare workers to kick off that year’s Nursing Week, as a way to show their appreciation for the work that healthcare workers have put in since the pandemic started.
On the ice, the two are some of Canada’s most beloved, decorated, and celebrated athletes. But as a pair off the ice, Tessa and Morgan are working to build an altogether more impactful, sustainable legacy.