VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 15: Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China react in the kiss and cry area after they competed in the figure skating pairs free skating on day 4 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at the Pacific Coliseum on February 15, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

China's Shen-Zhao Wins Gold In Pairs Figure Skating

China's pairs figure skating team of Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao ended decades of Russian dominance with their gold medal win Monday night in Vancouver.

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China's Shen-Zhao Wins Pairs Figure Skating Gold, Ends Russian Dominance

China's pairs figure skating team of Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao came out of retirement in hopes of winning an elusive Olympic gold medal. On Monday night in Vancouver, they accomplished just that.

The win by Shen-Zhao, a married couple who previously had won two bronze medals in the Olympics, ended decades of Russian dominance in Pairs Figure Skating -- Russia had won gold in the event for the past 12 Winter Games.

Another Chinese team, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, won silver, and Germany's pair of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy took bronze. It is the first time Russia has not appeared on the Pairs Figure Skating medal podium since 1964.

In the end, it was Shen-Zhao's record setting Short Program score of 76.66 that propelled them to gold.

The top American finish was 10th, turned in by Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig.

More: SB Nation’s full coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Tracker.

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Shen-Zhao Leading By 0.7 Points After Pairs Short Program

China's team of Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao was the first to skate Sunday night in the Pairs Short Program, and they quickly showed why they are the gold medal favorites, turning in a record score of 76.66.

For most of the night, it looked like their lead would be insurmountable. But then the final five pairs skated, and suddenly it is a logjam at the top heading into Monday night's Free Skate for the gold medal. Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are just 0.7 points behind the Chinese, and Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are in third, just 2.5 points back.

In all, there are five pairs within 5.38 points of each other. The Free Skate portion will be broadcast live Monday night on NBC, beginning at 8 p.m.

Our figure skating blog, Required Elements, offered her quick reaction to tonight's Short Program.

Shen and Zhao (China): YES TRIPLE TOES, perfect. Nice triple twist. I got scared just before the throw triple loop but there was obviously no reason for that. She seemed a tad behind on the spin ending but that is very much a nitpick. Great lift, great energy and speed ... 76.66, RECORD, WAHHOOO. [...]

Savchenko and Szolkowy:  Throw triple flip - no problem!!!  Wow, she seemed a bit over eager on that side by side triple toe, but LANDED perfectly, this is great.  Triple twist not as good as they can do - more of a collision.  Spins are so fast but not perfectly on ... 75.96, personal best, JUST BEHIND Shen and Zhao.

I guess the much-predicted podium of Shen and Zhao, Savchenko and Szolkowy, and Kavaguti and Smirnov is on target right now.  I cannot believe how great the skating was tonight from some of the top pairs.  I can also not believe some of the scores ...

More: SB Nation's full coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Tracker.

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