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Moore-Towers, Moscovitch commit to another four years after fifth-place finish

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany leave the ice after competing in the pairs free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

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Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany leave the ice after competing in the pairs free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

SOCHI, Russia - Minutes after their program came to a smiling, giggling conclusion, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch were spontaneously committing to another four years.

"This is far too much fun," Moore-Towers said through a wide smile. "Yeah. Hell yeah. We say we're going to take it one year at a time, but why not, right? Dream big."

The Canadian skaters finished fifth Wednesday in pairs at the Sochi Olympics on a night Russia returned to its old ways, utterly dominating the discipline. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the gold, while teammates Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov captured the silver.

Four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany had to settle for the bronze for the second straight Olympics.

Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., world bronze medallists last year, dropped from fifth after the short program to finish seventh. Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers of Kipling, Sask., were 14th.

Skating to "Fellini Medley" and looking elegant in all black, Moore-Towers — her golden hair pulled back with a pale pink rose — and Moscovitch skated virtually flawless save for their side-by-side triple Salchows. He doubled his.

And by the time they completed their last lift — a breath-taking move where Moore-Towers is upside down in the splits, her nose touching her knee, and Moscovitch is spinning her overhead — Moore-Towers was in fits of giggles.

"She was like 'Hahahaha!'. . . actually laughing," Moscovitch said.

Moore-Towers, a 21-year-old from St. Catharines, Ont., and Moscovitch, a 29-year-old from Toronto, were already silver medallists from the new team event earlier in the Games. He admitted to sleeping with the medal that's as heavy as "a dumbbell" on his bedside table the first night.

They'd had a couple of setbacks in Sochi — Moore-Towers threw out her back in practice last week while Moscovitch had a painful infection in his foot that required daily injections to freeze it.

Still, the Canadians who are celebrating their fifth anniversary as a team this week say their Olympic experience was everything they'd hoped for.

"There were no hiccups, there was no forcing it, it just felt like a five-minute moment for us," Moscovitch said of Wednesday's free program.

"I'm so excited," Moore-Towers interjected, to much laughter in the press area. Her shiver was visible.

Why would they quit now?

"I think we're just starting to hit our stride, and I'm really excited to see what more we're capable of," Moscovitch said. "We're very lucky.

"Why would we stop while we still can do this? Because we're going to miss it one day for sure."

Russia, or the former Soviet Union, had won gold in 12 straight Olympics in pairs before the streak ended four years ago, when the Russians failed to take home any pairs medal from Vancouver.

They announced their return in dramatic fashion Wednesday. Volosozhar and Trankov, who had been shouldering the mammoth weight of their country's immense expectations, skated an almost flawless performance to Jesus Christ Superstar. With the red-and-blue Russian crowd on its feet, Trankov slid on his knees across the ice, hands raised in celebration, and Volosozhar buried her face in her hands.

"I think tonight all of the country will celebrate this beautiful victory," said Trankov, who with Volosozhar, also won gold with Russia in the team event. "To win it here is more special than anything.

"But there was pressure. We were nervous, very nervous. It was huge for us to skate in front of this audience in our country, but it was hard, and to do this make us very happy now."

Stolbova and Klimov also skated nearly flawless to the "The Addams Family, " Stolbova landing a beautiful throw triple Salchow to end the program.

Savchenko and Szolkowy were uncharacteristically sloppy, Szolkowy falling on a triple toe loop and Savchenko crashing to the ice on a throw triple Axel, their final element.

Duhamel and Radford, skating to "Alice in Wonderland," also had some uncharacteristic mishaps. Duhamel fell on a triple Salchow, then put a hand down on their throw triple Lutz.

"I think we know what our potential is and our potential is a lot higher," Radford said. "When you don't reach your potential for any athlete, it's going to be a bit disappointing."

"It happens to everybody, we see athletes in all sports at the Olympics not even qualifying for the final, these great great athletes," Duhamel added. "It's the story of the Games, there's triumph and there's heartbreak."

The two said there was solace in the silver medal they won in the team event.

"I'll be looking at that medal and wearing it around the house for awhile, and that will be a moment that nobody can take away from us and we'll always have from these Olympics," Radford said.

The one negative on Moore-Towers and Moscovitch's day is that one of their coaches — Kristy Sargeant-Wirtz — wasn't able to be with them in Sochi. At practice earlier, Kris Wirtz — Kristy's husband, former dance partner, and the Canadian pair's coach here — skyped Kristy on his phone and propped it up on a Kleenex box.

"She has been such an integral part of who we are as skaters and as people," Moore-Towers said.

They skyped Sargeant-Wirtz again after the skate. The coach was cheering them on with a group of skaters at their training rink in Waterloo, Ont., and the cheers from home were loud enough from anyone in the press area to hear.

Now the skaters are looking forward to cheering on their Canadian teammates in Sochi.

"We're going to walk around like Canadian sandwich boards and lose our voices," Moore-Towers said.

Added Moscovitch: "We are going to get gold medals for being the best cheerleaders for Canada."

Lawrence and Swiegers, skating to "Oz the Great and Powerful," had a couple of mishaps. The most notable was Lawrence's fall on their throw triple loop. But the crash landing couldn't crush their Olympic moment.

"I've had so much fun," Lawrence said. "When I got off the ice, I was like 'I don't want to get off,' that's why I kept curtsying, that's all I could do, I would have stayed out there and curtsied to every person.

"I was having so much fun, it's been the experience of a lifetime."

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