Shen and Zhao capture 2010 Olympic gold

In what turned out to be a nail-biting event, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China won the 2010 Olympic gold medal, while teammates Qing Pang and Jian Tong captured the silver. Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy settled for the bronze.

Shen and Zhao opened their  emotional routine to Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor with solid side-by-side triple toeloops and a double Axel-double Axel sequence. However, during a Axel Lasso lift, Shen slipped while in the in the air, sliding down her partner’s back for a safe return to the ice.

The two-time Olympic bronze medalists recovered to produce a triple twist, throw triple loop, and throw triple Salchow. Though the mistake on the lift cost the team a of couple points, they more than made up for it with the positive Grades of Execution (GoE) they earned for all other elements.

Shen (31) and Zhao (36) placed second in the long with 139.91 (67.51/72.40) points, but with total score of 216.57, maintained first overall to become the first Chinese pair team to win Olympic gold.

“This is our fourth Olympics,” noted Shen. “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.”

Husband and partner Zhao added: “When the music finished, I said ‘thank you’ to my wife. Today we did it! We finally won an Olympic gold medal!”

Teammates Pang and Tong broke a world record for the pairs long program after placing first with 141.81 (70.53/71.28) points. The 30-year-olds skated an endearing routine to  Impossible Dream by Hisaishi which featured solid side-by-side triple toeloops, a throw triple loop, a throw triple Salchow, and a double Axel-double Axel sequence.

The four-time Four Continents Champions also produced three level 4 lifts as well as a level 4 spiral sequence and pair combination spin. With a total score of 213.31, Pang and Tong were able to move up from fourth to second place overall to capture the silver.

“We had this impossible dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games, now we have a silver. It’s amazing!” said an elated Tong.

“I was just happy that we had finished our program clean,” added Pang. “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.”

Savchenko  and Szolkowy  also produced a good program which featured difficult lifts and very good spins, however, Savchenko doubled her first jump on the opening triple toeloop-triple toeloop sequence while Szolkowy fell on a double Axel.

Nevertheless, the Germans earned positive GoEs for their solid throw triple flip and throw triple Salchow, placing third in the long with 134.64 (65.98/70.56) points for their Out of Africa routine. However, with a  total score of 210.60 they slipped from second to third overall.

“I’m glad that we, in spite of everything, at least got a medal,” Savchenko later told the press. “That is important. We are sad, because we didn’t manage to take the gold medal, but third place is better than nothing.”

“There were errors,” agreed Szolkowy. “The little something that we had yesterday was lacking today.”

Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia placed a disappointing seventh in the long with 120.61 (57.13/64.48) points after making several costly mistakes.

The European Champions had a shaky start when Kavaguti put a hand down on the opening throw triple Salchow, which was a planned quadruple. The Russian Champions recovered to nail their side-side triple toeloops and triple twist, but then Smirnov stepped out of his second jump on the double Axel-double Axel sequence and Kavaguti fell on a throw triple loop.

With a total score of 120.61 points,  Kavaguti and Smirnov slipped from third to fourth overall, making It was the first time since 1964 that a Russian pair team did not win an Olympic medal in this event.

China’s Dan Zhang  and Hao Zhang   maintained fifth place overall with a total score of 194.34 despite placing fourth in the long with 123.06 (65.42/58.64) points.

Hao Zhang fell on the second jump in the opening side-by-side double Axel-triple toeloops, but the 2006 Olympic silver medalist quickly recovered to nail their side-by-side triple Salchows. The team also produced a triple twist, a solid throw triple Salchow and throw triple loop, and received level 4 on both their spins.

Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison placed sixth in the long (121.75) and overall (187.11). The Canadian Champions nailed their double Axel-double Axel sequence, but Dubé fell on a triple Salchow and stepped out of a throw triple Lutz. The team otherwise landed a throw triple loop and displayed good lifts and spins.

Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov of Russia moved up from eighth to seventh overall (185.79) after placing fifth in the long 122.35 (61.27/62.08) points. Mukhortova fell on the side-by-side triple Salchows, while Trankov put a hand down on the second jump of their triple toeloop-double toeloop combination. The European bronze medalists were otherwise solid throughout the rest of their routine, delivering three level 4 lifts and a solid throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow.

Ukrainians Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov placed eighth (119.64) in the long and overall (181.78). Morozov stumbled on the landing of the second jump in the opening side-by-side triple toeloop-triple toeloop sequence and turned out a triple Salchow. The team otherwise had a good skate which was highlighted by a solid throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow, a triple twist, and level 4 spins and lifts.

Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay of Canada finished ninth in the long (115.77) and  overall (179.97). Langlois fell on a triple Salchow and double-footed the landing of a throw triple Lutz. The team otherwise produced a solid throw triple Salchow as well as good spins and lifts.

USA’s Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig made minor errors on the side-by-side triple toeloop-double toeloop combination and double Axel sequence, however, their throw triple Lutz and throw triple loop were solid. The team placed 10th in the long (114.06) and overall (171.92).

Russia’s Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov finished in 11th place overall (163.50), followed closely by Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Yannick Kocon (161.60).

U.S. Champions Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett were 13th overall.

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