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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chinese pair skates to gold

 •  Cool, calm Miller wins bronze in men's downhill

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won China’s first gold medal in figure skating.


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

American Lindsey Vonn

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Mo Tae-bum

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — This is why Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo came back.

The Chinese pair finally won the Olympic gold medal that eluded them for so many years last night, a prize so compelling it lured them out of the cozy life of a happily retired married couple. It wasn't the best skate of their career — she tumbled onto his back during a lift — but it was good enough for gold.

That's all that mattered.

Their score of 216.57 points was more than three points ahead of teammates Pang Qing and Tong Jian. When Shen and Zhao finished their routine, Zhao knelt to the ice, burying his face in his hands while his wife patted his back. He pumped his fist several times while she beamed.

"It's been so many years," Zhao said. "To finally get this gold today is so exciting."

Shen and Zhao won bronze at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics, then retired in 2007.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, winners of the last two world titles, dropped to the bronze medal after a flawed free skate.

"I think everyone knows we're a little disappointed," Szolkowy said.

The gold is the first in figure skating for China. The more shocking stat is that it's the first time since 1960 that a Russian or Soviet couple isn't atop the Olympic podium.



American Lindsey Vonn was the headliner coming into Vancouver, then all the hype seemed for naught when she revealed a shin injury that made it painful to even wear a ski boot.

But the bad weather was a blessing for her recovery and in her first training run early yesterday, on the upper section of the course, she had the fastest time in the field.

Then there was a downturn. A bumpy afternoon run on the lower section left her hobbling again and hoping for more weather delays.

But the most important thing about Vonn's training run wasn't her time. It was simply finishing, which fulfilled the requirement of running the course on the same day at least once.

With a starting spot waiting for her, Vonn will turn her attention to being there. The race is scheduled for tomorrow and there's another training session today, although she's now eligible to skip it.

"It was a fight just to make it down the whole way," Vonn said.



Problems with ice-resurfacing machines caused a delay of about an hour during the men's 500 meters. But that's not why American Shani Davis dropped out.

Davis finished 18th in the first race, then withdrew, skipping the second heat to save his energy for the 1,000 tomorrow night. He's the defending champion and the world record-holder at that distance.

Gold went to Mo Tae-bum of South Korea, a country better known for its short-track speedskaters. Tucker Fredricks was the top American, taking 12th.



Switzerland's Dario Cologna collapsed across the finish line after winning the men's 15-kilometer freestyle cross-country race. Sweden's Charlotte Kalla led from start to finish to win the women's 10-kilometer freestyle race.

In the men's race, Italian Pietro Piller Cottrer won the silver and Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic took bronze. James Southam was the top American finisher at 48th.

In the women's event, Kristina Smigun-Vaehi of Estonia, who won two golds in 2006 but has struggled this season, took silver and Marit Bjoergen of Norway got the bronze. Caitlin Compton finished 30th, the best by an American since 1984.



Sweden beat Slovakia, 6-2, which wasn't as painful as the 18-0 beating by Canada in the opener. The Canadians won, too, also less harshly — 10-1 over Switzerland.