The excitement was palpable, as a large crowd greeted Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir with an energetic singing of O Canada just outside the arrival gates at the London International Airport.
After a 24-hour travel day from Pyeongchang, the local figure-skating pair spent time chatting with the crowd, posing for photos, and signing autographs for supporters both young and old.
“They signed my flag,” exclaimed seven-year-old Ryder McClain.
Clad in a Tragically Hip T-shirt and a red-and-white cap with a maple leaf on it, the young fan clutched a red poster board decorated with the athletes’ names and miniature gold medals.
“What was your favourite event?” Moir asked McClain, as he crouched down to chat with him.
“Which one, the long track or the short track?”
“The long track!”
WATCH: Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue sign autographs, take photos with fans after arriving in London, Ont.
“You did watch! You have been paying attention, that’s awesome!” laughed Moir, as he gave the grinning boy a fist bump.
McClain’s mom, Tara Srigley, beamed as she watched the moment unfold.
“I was trying not to cry,” she said afterward.
“They were very sweet and they were very kind, and they were very concerned about the crowd and they just, it looked like they were just glad to be home and they were surprised with all of us here.”
Srigley said she’s been following Moir and Virtue since before McClain was born, and when she realized the pair would be flying into London, she thought it would be a good idea to come show their support.
“I thought, ‘Lets do something fun, something happy. There’s not a lot of happy stuff going on in the media right now so this was a good way to show him courage and strength.'”
Before spending more than half an hour with fans, Moir, who is from Ilderton, and Virtue, who was born in London, spoke with reporters.
WATCH: Scott Moir says ‘magic’ of Olympics hasn’t worn off
“We’ve been thinking about this moment, being back home, since we won,” said Moir.
“We felt this love and support when we were over there in Korea. We knew we weren’t alone on the ice and to get home and see everyone and share the celebrations is really special,” explained Virtue.
As for the next few days, she says they’ll regroup, spend some time with family, work on choreographing, and then head out on tour.
WATCH: Tessa Virtue calls response from communities ‘amazing’
“We’ll stay busy and we’ll stay on the ice, performing, but in a different capacity.”
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