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10 December 2023

Chinese pair breaks Russian skating gold run

Husband-and-wife duo Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo came out of retirement to clinch the gold. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Reuters

Swiss Didier Defago dashed out of the shadows of more fancied rivals to win the showcase men's downhill at the Winter Olympics on Monday as China gracefully broke Russia's astonishing 46-year grip on pairs skating gold.

Canada failed to build any momentum from Sunday's first gold on home soil and America's megabuck NHL ice hockey players were rapped on the knuckles for sporting politicised slogans on their helmets during training on the eve of the men's event.

China broke Russia's remarkable domination of pairs figure skating dating back to the 1964 Games in Innsbruck.

Husband-and-wife duo Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo came out of retirement to lead a mesmerising Chinese 1-2, their first gold medal in the event.

"Today's medal is a completion of a dream after so many years," gushed Shen, who had kissed the medal in unison with her husband while on the podium.

Job done, a grinning Shen immediately set her sights on their next goal: "It's hard to continue skating; maybe it's time to have a baby."

South Korea's Mo Tae-bum celebrated his 21st birthday by winning the men's 500 metres speedskating in a contest interrupted for more than an hour after problems with the battery powered machine that resurfaces ice.

For hosts Canada, a poor showing in the downhill, a last-gasp loss to the Americans in snowboard cross, and an out-of-the medals performance from speedskating hopeful Jeremy Wotherspoon brought locals back to earth after their first home-turf Olympic gold on Sunday.


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