Skating legends to hit the ice Saturday

Thank you, Canada, signed: Tessa, Scott, Patrick, Meagan, Eric, Kaetlyn, Kaitlyn, Andrew and Elvis.

Each of them is showing their appreciation for their country's support, one city at a time from one side of this landmass to the other. Tonight, it's Prince George's turn.

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Not satisfied to keep their sentiments on the ice, the two headliners - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - talked to The Citizen to pass on their feelings of gratitude personally to the community, on behalf of the cast.

And what a cast. It is almost the entire set of current Canadian figure skating royalty, plus a past superstar whose name still rings with global resonance.

"We still have to pinch ourselves when we look at who we're standing on the ice with," said Virtue.

"It's an interesting process. It's the first time we've been a part of that side," said Moir. "We kind of had an idea on the way home from the Olympics that we wanted to do a tour like this where we got to go into every corner of the country and take our friends along with us, so we tried to pick people who had as much hardware as possible, but we also grew up with all of these skaters, and we have personal relationships. We won the Olympic team events with a lot of them, and that makes it a very personal connection as well. I think you can see that in the show."

"We are thrilled to have Elvis Stojko on board," Virtue added. "The energy that he brings, the wisdom, the maturity, the experience, is of course unmatched. This tight-knit group, there is only nine in the cast, but there is so much variety in everyone's performances. I think we've all tried to express ourselves differently with this show and push beyond our comfort levels. That's what's thrilling and that's what's neat as an artist away from competition, to have the freedom to do so."

The two darlings of the Winter Olympics talked about how the pressure of competition is different than the pressures of putting on a skating show like this one. True, the panel of judges is gone from their minds, but instead are the thousands of judges sitting in the audience seats. At competitions, the public is there for the event but in an exhibition like this one the public is there for the names on the marquee.

The numbers you'll see on the frozen stage are some of those competition favourites that earned these superstars their medals, but most of the material will be new choreography and entirely different styles of dance and athleticism. Some of the acts will be the solo and duo acts we are familiar with, as fans, but they also do group numbers and collaborations that are never seen in the competitive arena.

"We have tried to allow each and every cast member to shine in their own way, but with the support of the rest of the cast," said Virtue.

"Weaving that thread throughout has been really special. Keeping the energy up, I think it's a high-impact show, and I hope the people are right there with us dancing the whole way."

Just because the show is different and there is no gold on the line doesn't mean they aren't giddy with butterflies in the stomach, they admitted. Doing anything in front of thousands of watching eyes will give you nervous tension, but Moir said that is the best feeling for a performance art athlete to have.

"They are different types of nerves. We still have the nerves," he said.

"Luckily we still have each other we can rely on, we've always had that in competition, but we have seven other cast-mates, so we build a little bit of a team atmosphere. We are all passionate about putting on a good show. We know people are spending their hard-earned money to come see us so that creates a little bit of nerves. We feel responsible for that."

The Thank You Canada Tour cuts across the CN Centre ice on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online via the TicketsNorth website, or in person at the CN Centre box office.

The skating stars featured tonight are a who's who of current Canadian superstars, including:

Virtue and Moir (five-time Olympic Medalists, three-time World Champions and eight-time National Champions).

Patrick Chan (three-time Olympic Medalist, three-time World Champion, and 10-time National Champion).

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (three-time Olympic Medalist, four-time World Medalist, seven-time National Champions).

Kaetlyn Osmond (three-time Olympic Medalist, three-time National Champion, World Champion).

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (two-time National Ice Dance Champions, three-time World Medalists and two-time Olympians).

The legendary Elvis Stojko (two-time Olympic Medalist, three-time World Champion, and seven-time National Champion).

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