VANCOUVER, B.C. — 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 Monday 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, but it was good enough for gold — and that was 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, her grin so bright it could light up the entire arena.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany dropped to the bronze medal after a flawed free skate.
It’s the first time since 1960 that a Russian or Soviet couple isn’t atop the Olympic podium, ending one of the longest winning streaks in sports. Perhaps even more shocking, the Russians are leaving empty-handed, with no medals of any color.
Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov were in third after the short program, but she bailed out on their throw quadruple salchow, opening up and turning it into a triple.