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Winter Olympics: Phelps leaves Moir in a spin

Published on Feb 6, 2014 11:01 PM
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Canadian figure skating dance pair Tessa Virtue (right) and Scott Moir speak at a press conference by Canada's figure skating team in Sochi, on Thursday, Feb 6, 2014. It is not often that Olympians forget who Michael Phelps is. But ice dancer Moir was so excited at the rare chance of grabbing two medals in figure skating at the Sochi Games, he got his "Phelps" all mixed up. -- PHOTO: AFP

SOCHI (REUTERS) - It is not often that Olympians forget who Michael Phelps is. But ice dancer Scott Moir was so excited at the rare chance of grabbing two medals in figure skating at the Sochi Games, he got his "Phelps" all mixed up.

"I'd like to be Ross Phelps and get eight medals... who did I just say?" a wide-eyed and red-faced Moir told reporters before covering his face in shame.

As his Canadian team-mates burst into roaring laughter, the 2010 Olympic champion quickly tried to back track: "I meant Michael Phelps. Ross Phelps is a volunteer for Skate Canada."

Michael Phelps scooped a record 18 gold medals at the summer Olympics during a stellar swimming career, with eight of those won at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Forgetting the name of the most decorated Olympian of all time in such a public arena is not something Moir will forget in a hurry.

But what he would like to remember is the feeling of winning multiple medals at the same Olympics - and for figure skaters that has not been possible for 78 years.

Since Germany's Ernst Baier struck gold in the pairs event and silver in the men's singles in 1936, skating has become so specialised that competitors pursue only one discipline.

But the introduction of the team event in Sochi means that for the first time in almost eight decades, skaters such as Moir have a chance to pick up two medals at the same Games.

"It's an amazing opportunity to go out there and get two medals," said Moir who, along with partner Tessa Virtue, is favourite to lead Canada to the team gold.

"We share the (Olympic) venue with (short track) speed skaters and every other day they are going after another medal. That's why we are so excited about this. Going after two medals in figure skating is unheard of."

The team competition begins on Thursday with the men's and pairs short programme. Along with Canada, hosts Russia, the US and Japan are the other medal contenders.