Whether you’re a Winter Olympics connoisseur or, like me, someone who was unsure how to watch the festival of wintery sports until Slate created this useful guide, you may have picked up some of the chatter surrounding Canadian ice-dancing champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Not because they won a gold medal on Tuesday, making them the most decorated Canadian skaters in Olympic history. (What is this, a celebration of athletic achievement?) No, the world has its eyes trained on Virtue and Moir because the longtime skating partners are deeply in love—they just don’t know it yet. But after watching them interact on the ice, you will.
Although the Winter Olympics—and with it, everyday interest in people with blades jutting from their feet—only come around once every four years, the VM (Virtue-Moir) shipping community is a passionate, always active fandom, compete with GIFs, fan fiction, and complex theories explaining how it is that the supposedly platonic pair are actually parents to a lovechild. This year, the once marginal fandom has gone mainstream. VM shipping is no longer the realm of obsessive skating fans: It’s for anyone who lays eyes on them.
After Tuesday’s sensual, gold medal-winning, Moulin Rouge-ified performance, the obsession surrounding the pair reached Harry-Hermione levels.
You don’t need to leap into the annals of the Tessa + Scott Tumblr to get it—the five-minute routine they performed on Tuesday is enough to catch you up on a decade of shipping. To become a lifelong VM shipper, to believe as deeply in their love as you ever have in anything, you only need to see them do the leaping. And the touching, and the gazing, and the twirling, and the singing. That’s right, he sings to her as they dance. It’s Christian and Satine’s “love that will live forever” on ice.
As a newly initiated VM shipper, it’s important to know that the soulmates regularly deny their love for one another, not just to us, but to themselves. The skate-crossed lovers dated in the early days—the very early days, when they were aged 7 (Tessa) and 9 (Scott)—with Moir allegedly breaking up with Virtue over the phone after being teased by his friends. (Their former coach jokes this probably led to “19 or 20 years of regret” for Moir.) But hard as they might try to suppress their feelings, the “friends” can’t help but leave unconscious hints for those of us able to read between the blades. In a recent interview with Macleans about their skating origins, Moir revealed that “we fell in love with the sport and skating with each other.”
Of course, “are they a couple?” is a question commonly asked of platonic ice dancing duos—unsurprisingly, considering that part of the art of the sport is creating the impression of passion between partners. But no one could possibly “act” as well as these two (who claim they are only doing their job.) Though they do not know it, it’s clear to me, someone who has now spent a total of five minutes watching ice dancing, that their unrealized feelings are what make them such electrifying performers.
An NBC Olympics report foolishly speculates that the champions are about to announce their retirement. Although Moir’s “we’ll probably make an announcement in the coming days” is thought to be a reference to their departure from the sport, it’s obvious—any moment now—that they are about to announce their love to the world. After all, retirement would be too cruel, considering we have only just found each other.