Monday, February 15, 2010

Russian Domination Comes to an End

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!
You can read this and all my other blog posts at the One Winter Five Dreams Gold Blogger Site!


Anonymous said...

Glad the Russians fell to 4th. Can't stand their pretensions before and after their short program skate. Shen & Zhao fully deserve their gold. It'll be sad not to see them compete again though.

I wonder what Tamara said to Yuko after the skate. I read that Yuko said "you can divorce me if you want"..... But the $50,000 question is what did Tamara said to her?? Inquiring mind wants to know!

Tracy said...

I was so happy to see Shen and Zhao win the gold. They showed such emotion during their entire performance, and my heart just about jumped into my throat when she slipped on that overhead lift! It definately didn't affect their performance though...a deserving gold for China and the end of the Russian "dynasty".

Stella said...

I am also thrilled that Shen Zhao won. I'm also really happy that Pang and Tong got the scores and the medals they deserved. I always liked them so much better than the totally unelegant and unmusical Zhangs and it was frustrating that the Zhangs often beat them.

I am not a fan of Kavaguti and Smirnov -- Dick Button described them as flailing too much and too often getting into contorted positions. Speaking of overly contrived -- the moment when Yuko ripped open the top of her costume to reveal that sparkly heart (what was that?!?)-- I think that's when everything started to go downhill for me.
I'm wondering if Tamara asked Yuko if she was all right after the fall. She was hitting her wrist just as she got up, as if she were popping it back in place or someting.

Nancy said...

The cartoon swan on Yuko's short program costume was when it all started to go downhill for me. I also thought she hurt her left wrist on the fall during the long. She held it for a minute and I was wondering how she was going to get through the rest of the program.

I was so pleased for the two Chinese teams. Every time I see video of their coach's Olympic debut I cringe; their skating program has come so far.