China has made history tonight with its first gold and a silver in figure skating at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, ending Russian dominance in this event.
Specifically coming out of retirement for the Olympics, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo skated a romantic routine to Adagio with a few mistakes, but overall technically good. When they got their score of 216.57, they realized they had won gold and hugged each other. At 36, Zhao is the second oldest Olympic champion in figure skating, Shen at 31, is the 10th oldest.
Their compatriots Pang Qing and Tong Jian also made their best performance skating to The Impossible Dream from The Man of la Mancha, nailing a series of difficult jumps and lifts. They gained confidence as their routine progressed, and at the end got a standing ovation from the 11,350 audience members. Tong was so swept up in the moment that he knelt down and kissed the ice. It was also their last Olympics.
However, the third Chinese pair, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, who had won silver in Turin in 2006, had to settle for fifth place as Zhang Hao had a big spill on the opening jump.
Regardless, their results are redemption for their coach, Yao Bin.
He had competed in the 1980 World Championships and 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, and he and his partner's routine was considered so crude, that they were practically booed and laughed off the ice.
Yao has shown the world that determination, hard work and of course money brings Olympic gold.
Now who's laughing?
At the press conference after the competition, Shen hopes their win will help promote their sport in China.
"We hope that by winning this gold medal, we can inspired not just the young people of Harbin, but young people everywhere in China to like figure skating."
Zhao was also elated by their historic win.
"I am thrilled that we have finally realised our dream. We have won many medals at other competitions and when we hear our national anthem and see the Chinese flag being raised, we always wished that it was at the Olympic Games."
And now that they have achieved their goal, it may be time for the husband and wife team to move onto other pursuits.
"We are too old to continue skating, so maybe it's time to have a baby," Zhao said.