Vancouver / Canada

The figure skating competition at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games kicked of in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday with the Pairs Short Program. 11, 285 spectators followed a high-level competition at the Pacific Coliseum.

Shen/Zhao (CHN) take lead in the Pairs Short Program
Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao of China took the lead in the Pairs Short Program, followed closely by Germany’s Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy and Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov from Russia.

Shen/Zhao skated first out of the 20 couples and set the bar high with an excellent performance to “Who Wants to Live Forever”. The two-time Olympic bronze medalists nailed a side by side triple toeloop, a high triple twist and throw triple loop and earned a level four for their lift and the spins to score a new personal best and record of 76.66 points (42.42 element score/34.24 program component score). “I was running through all the elements in my head and concentrating on the details. I am pretty happy with how we skated tonight”, Shen said. “We were really excited to be back in the competition at the Olympic Games. We are happy with our performance today. It was a nice Valentine’s Day present”, her partner and husband added.

Savchenko/Szolkowy were the last couple to take the ice and closed today’s competition with another strong performance. Skating to “Send in the Clowns”, the two-time World Champions produced a triple toe, a high throw triple flip and a triple twist. They earned a level four for their lift, spins and the death spiral and picked up a new personal best score of 75.96 points (42.24/33.72). “Today’s performance was very good. We tired to do our best, not only technically, but of course we tried to skate with emotion. We’re looking forward to a good fight tomorrow”, Szolkowy commented. “We have a chance and we will use it”, Savchenko answered when asked about their chance to strike gold in the Free Skating on Monday.

Kavaguti/Smirnov’s balletic program to “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens was highlighted by a triple toe, throw triple loop and triple twist. The European Champions scored 74.16 points (40.92/33.24), setting a new personal best for themselves. “It’s just the beginning of the competition, but we are very pleased with how we placed”, Kavaguti offered. “We’re going to do our very best tomorrow. We want everyone to enjoy our dance and we want to make our coach happy”, Smirnov added.

Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN) came in third with a clean program but had a timing violation as they finished too late (71.50 points). Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang completed a strong showing of the Chinese team with their fifth place (71.28 points). Homecrowd favourites Jessica Dube/Bryce Davison (CAN) are ranked sixth after she fell on the triple Salchow (65.36 points).

The Pairs competition will conclude Monday with the Free Skating.