Pairs Figure Skating is synonymous with the Russians. Since 1964, the Russians (or Soviets) have won (or shared as they did in 2002) the Gold Medal. It's just understood in Pairs Figure Skating...the Russians win.
But the last four years, after the retirement of 2006 Olympic Champs Totmianina and Marinin, Russia has struggled to produce a top form team. Last season, however, the Russians finally had a team that could go toe-to-toe with the best. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov won the Bronze Medal at the 2009 World Championships and put everyone on notice...the Russians weren't going down without a fight.
In the short program here in Vancouver the Russians were on, and they gave two Chinese Teams, Pang and Tong & Shen and Zhao, as well as Germans Savchenko and Szolkowy a run for their money. The Russians were third after the short program daring their competitors to deny them their legacy.
But everything changed in the free skate where the Russians made critical mistakes and ended a dynasty of Russian and Soviet Champions. In fact, they failed to even make the podium, finishing an unimpressive 4th.
Instead, a new legacy was born. A legacy that has been in the making since 2002 when Shen and Zhao finished third in Salt Lake City. They finished third again in 2006 just behind their teammates Zhang and Zhang. This time, however, China took the top two spots with Shen and Zhao finally winning Olympic Gold and their teammates Pang and Tong taking the Silver. World Champions from Germany, Savchenko and Szolkowy, backed into a Bronze Medal.
Now it's understood in Pairs Figure Skating...the Chinese win.
Panasonic's Olympic slogan is "Sharing the Passion" and I can think of no other team that has done that more than Shen and Zhao. It took four Olympic attempts to win the Gold Medal (they were 5th in 1998) and they have worked so hard for it. It's nice to see hard work and a journey well traveled pay off!