Olympics-Figure skating-Chinese pair banish fraught Games with home gold

Figure Skating - Pair Skating - Free Skating
2022 Beijing Olympics – Figure Skating – Pair Skating – Free Skating – Capital Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China – February 19, 2022. Sui Wenjing of China and Han Cong of China in action. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

February 19, 2022

By Chang-Ran Kim and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong made sure the Beijing Games’ controversial figure skating competition ended in celebration on Saturday by winning the pairs title for the sport’s final gold medal to the rapture of local fans.

Fevered cheers and thunderous applause filled the Beijing Capital Indoor Stadium as the pair’s free skate score was announced in Mandarin, giving China its first figure skating trophy since pairs Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo in 2010.

Sui and Han, partners for 15 years – their entire career since they were children – were clearly in their element on home ice as they executed a series of high-scoring elements.

Their opening quadruple twist lift in their free skate to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” sent spectators into a frenzy, with cheers erupting between hushed moments as they performed most of their jumps and throws with clockwork precision.

Their final score of 239.88 beat the world record of 239.82 held by Russians Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, who won bronze with 237.71.

Fellow Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took silver with 239.25 points – just 0.63 point shy of Sui and Han.

But the emotions of finally getting an Olympic medal following their near-miss four years ago caught up with Morozov as he knelt on one knee at the end of their captivating routine and began sobbing while a tearful Tarasova skated around him.

Sui also lost her composure as soon as she wrapped her arm around Han’s neck for the final pose of their routine and started crying – perhaps fearing that her botched landing on the side-by-side triple Salchows would rob them of the gold.

It was a happy ending for host-nation China after the Games’ figure skating competition became embroiled in turmoil over Russian teen Kamila Valieva’s doping case.

The 15-year-old, now back in Russia, was cleared to compete in the women’s singles event despite having tested positive for a banned substance prior to the Games. She finished in fourth place amid all the drama.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Additional reporting by Muyu XuEditing by Toby Davis and Andrew Cawthorne)

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