Vancouver / Canada

The figure skating competition at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games continued in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday with the Pairs Free Skating. 11, 350 tickets were sold for the Pairs Free Skating at the Pacific Coliseum.

Shen/Zhao (CHN) take Olympic title, make history
Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao of China made history when they struck Gold in the Pairs event on Monday,  winning China’s first gold medal in Olympic figure skating and ending Russian dominance in the discipline. Qing Pang/Jian Tong skated to the silver with a spectacular performance while Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy of Germany earned the bronze medal.

Shen/Zhao’s romantic routine to “Adagio” featured a side by side triple toeloop, a double Axel- double Axel sequence, a high throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow as well as a triple twist. The only glitch in their performance came when they run into trouble with the Axel Lasso lift, ending it prematurely. The lift was graded only a level one, but the other two lifts, the side by side spin and the rarely seen forward outside death spiral garnered a level four. The husband-and-wife team scored a seasons best of 139.91 points (67.51 element score/72.40 program component score) and racked up a total of 216. 57 points to take the gold. Shen/Zhao had won two bronze medals in 2002 and 2006. “This is our fourth Olympics. We made a comeback to give it our last shot at gold. Words cannot describe how I feel right now. I just want to cry. It is a dream”, Shen said. “When the music finished, I said ‘thank you’ to my wife. Today we did it! We finally won an Olympic gold medal!” Zhao added.

Skating to “The Impossible Dream” from “The Man of La Mancha”, Pang/Tong proved that there is no such thing as an impossible dream. They nailed the double Axel-double Axel sequence, the triple toe, throw triple loop and Salchow and produced difficult lifts. The crowd gave them a standing ovation and he knelt down and kissed the ice. Pang/Tong posted a new personal best of 141.81.31 points (70.53/71.28) and moved up from fourth place to claim silver at 213.31 points. “We had this impossible dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games, now we have a silver. It’s amazing!” Tong said. “I was just happy that we had finished our program clean. It wasn’t until we were waiting for our scores that it dawned on me that we might have achieved our dream that I started to get excited”, Pang commented.

Savchenko/Szolkowy skated beautifully to “Out of Africa”. Their program was highlighted by their throws and lifts, but the Germans struggled with the side by side jumps. Savchenko doubled the second jump in the planned triple toe-triple toe sequence while Szolkowy fell on the double Axel. The two-time world champions earned 134.84 points (65.08/70.56) and slipped from second to third at 210.60 points. “I’m glad that we, in spite of everything, at least got a medal. That is important. We are sad, because we didn’t manage to take the gold medal, but third place is better than nothing”, Savchenko told the press. “There were errors. The little something that we had yesterday was lacking today”, Szolkowy admitted.

Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) opened the final flight. The European Champions made an error right on their opening throw triple Salchow. She touched down and then later fell on the throw triple loop. Smirnov stumbled on the double Axel. The Russians dropped from third to fourth at 194.77 points. For the first time since 1964, no Russian couple stood on the podiu at the Olympic Winter Games. Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang (CHN) came in fifth with 194.34 points. He crashed on the double Axel-triple toeloop combination, but they made no other major errors. Jessica Dubé/Bryce Davison (CAN) finished sixth. They hit the double Axel-double Axel sequence and the throw triple loop, but she went down on the triple Salchow.

The figure skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games continues Tuesday with the Men’s Short Program.