I just have to talk for a moment about the really good, amazingly solid
performance turned in by China's pair Shen and Zhao. Despite their history with the Olympic games, they were close to unranked, going basically unnoticed by what media I had managed to read. They were put at the beginning of the program because of that lack-of-ranking. And they blew everyone* away... who was there to actually see it. The stands were barely half full (if that) and no one but the judges seemed to be paying attention. There was no audience love for them. No clapping, screaming fans. They had a nearly silent audience witness their side-by-side triples, their beautiful throw and landing, their perfectly synchronized spins. And they did it anyway.
I bet people will be watching for them tonight. And I hope they blow everyone away again, just to prove that it doesn't matter what kind of an audience, that they are just that darn good.
From NBC Online:
At 31 and 36, Shen and Zhao are senior citizens when it comes to pairs skaters, but they still showed the kids how it ought to be done. http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/assetid=74e0cada-bf1c-4bef-9aa5-f9c4dde553a3.html#shenzhao
"They're the best pressure skaters I've ever seen," American Ladwig said.
Shen and Zhao haven't lost a bit of their athleticism. Their triple twist was so huge he had time to put his hands down -- and probably could have ducked out for tea if he'd really wanted. What makes their comeback so impressive, though, is their joy and passion. The big tricks? They mastered those a few years ago.
What they lacked back then was the artistry and emotion that makes pairs skating so moving. But Sunday, from her gorgeous black and pink lace dress to the way they touched fans way up in the rafters, every second of their performance oozed elegance.
Perhaps it's because of their experience, perhaps it's because they're married or perhaps it's because they're simply that good, but they appear to be one person when they skate. Everything is done in unison and with perfect timing. When they did their side-by-side triple toe loop jumps, they landed them right on a note of music, as if putting an exclamation point on it.
Their elements were matter of fact, not forced, and never once did the audience have that heart-in-your-throat feeling of "Will they? Won't they?"
Asked if it was their best performance, coach Yao Bin said, "Just about."
(Requires Microsoft Silverlight to watch.)
*I went to bed before the broadcast was over, so didn't see Germany's performance that aaaaaalmost touched the Chinese score.
Tonight: Pairs free skate; Men's: snowboarding, downhill skiing, speedskating
I missed the US vs. China blowout in women's hockey. 12 to 1 sounds a little lopsided.