Winter Olympics - Hongbo Zhao and Xue Shen
A dream that started 18 years ago culminated in Olympic gold, while one of the longest streaks in sports ended.
China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won the figure skating pairs title Monday at the Winter Olympics, capturing the one honor that had eluded them since they first started skating together in 1992. With 216.57 points, they became the first pairs winners from China — and snapped Russia's 46-year reign in the event, a run that spanned 12 Olympics.
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Russia was shut out altogether as Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov finished fourth because of a subpar free skate. China's Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who were fourth in Torino, bumped up to second place with a flawless free skate, while Germany's two-time defending world champions, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, earned the bronze after a mistake-riddled program.
Shen and Zhao weren't perfect— she slipped off a lift — but their compelling and technical free skate electrified the crowd and earned the pair the gold they had yearned for. The two-time bronze medalists, who saw their gold-medal hopes derailed in Torino after Zhao suffered an Achilles tendon injury, retired in 2007 and got married. But the lure of Olympic gold pulled them out of retirement last year at the advanced skating ages of 31 (Shen) and 36 (Zhao).
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When the scores flashed, they screamed and embraced.
History was also made on the snow. Seth Wescott became the first snowboarder to defend Olympic gold in any discipline after patiently executing a come-from-behind victory on the wild and volatile snowboardcross course. His win gave the U.S. its second gold of the games. Canada's Mike Robertson took the silver and France's Tony Ramoin won the bronze.
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Two-time silver medalist Bode Miller, who left Torino empty-handed, nabbed bronze in the downhill for a U.S.-record third career Olympic alpine medal. He was nine one-hundredths of a second behind gold medalist Didier Defago of Switzerland and two one-hundredths of a second behind silver medalist Norwegian Askel Lund Svindal.
Other winners included Korea's Mo Tae-Bum in the men's 500-meter long track, Switzerland's Dario Cologna in the men's 15-km individual cross-country, and Sweden's Charlotte Kalla in the women's 10-km individual cross-country.