Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo at practice this week. Credit: Getty Images / David Hecker
By Philip Hersh
Catching up on figure skating news after spending the last week looking at the Winter Olympic big picture:
OLYMPIC PAIRS COMPETITION begins with a bang Sunday. Two-time Olympic bronze medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo are the first team on the ice in the short program.
The Chinese, ancient mariners (he is 36, she is 31), have not competed in a major international event since winning the 2007 world title."To win an Olympic gold medal is a lifelong dream for both of us,'' Zhao said.
They retired for two seasons, got married, then returned at the brilliant level that had made them one of the world's most dynamic pairs since they debuted at the Olympics with a fifth place in 1998."Hongbo persuaded me,'' Shen said. "We were already married, so even if I said no, it's not like he is going to divorce me.''
PAIRS FAVORITES Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, world champs the last two years, haven't been excited with the ice conditions at the Pacific Coliseum during practices.
Savchenko called the ice "weird'' and "sticky'' and figured that was due to sharing the venue with short track speed skaters, who want softer ice.