Shen/Zhao snagged the gold that has eluded them in their previous three bronze medal performances, with a score of 216.57. Taking silver were Tong/Pang, with 213.31 overall. German world champions got the bronze, at 210.6.
The third Chinese pair, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, ended up in fifth place. The day's results no doubt indicate that China has a strong figure skating program, but most of the media attention focuses on Shen and Zhao--married, retired, unretired, and now Olympic champions. In his report on the couple, The Wall Street Journal's Ian Johnson quotes Zhao as saying, "When I hold her in my arms, I don't have to pretend to love her. I do."
Chinese Skating Pair Breaks the Mold
China's 2010 Winter Olympians: Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, pairs figure skating
Figure skating: Shen and Zhao on top heading into pairs final
Shen/Zhao image: Xinmin.cn
Tags: figure skating, Shen and Xue, Winter Olympics
The veteran couple posted a score of 76.66, beating out the world champions from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who weren't far behind at 75.96. Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "In their 2 minutes, 50 seconds of captivating power and effortless beauty, the Chinese set the bar where no pair ever had been." The score beat Shen and Zhao's previous world record, set just a couple of months ago.
Shen, 31, and Zhao, 36, face a tough field in the final, which takes place at 5:00 p.m. PST on February 15 (9 a.m. Beijing time, Feburary 16). The Two other Chinese pairs are still in contention—Pang Qing and Tong Jian finished Sunday in fourth place, and Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao came in at fifth. Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are in third place with a score of 74.16.
Other Chinese athletes competing for medals on February 15 are free cross country skiers Li Hongxue (women) and Xu Wenlong (men), both long shots; and men's speed skaters Yu Fengtong, Zhang Zhongqi, Liu Fangyi and Wang Nan (all men). Yu is China's record holder in the 500 and 1,000 meters, but his best result is a 13th-place finish in the 2005 World Championships.
Related: Shen-Zhao lead pairs figure skating
Tags: 2010 Winter Olympics, figure skating, Shen and Zhao, speed skating, Winter Olympics, world record