A Chinese couple in a comeback from retirement 3 years ago took the gold in Olympic pairs skating last night, breaking a Russian winning streak that stretched back to 1960. China won gold and silver, Germany bronze. Russia's Kavaguti and Smirnov placed fourth. “We were prepared for this sad moment,” says former Olympic champion from Russia “Still, it hurts the heart.” Shen Xue, 31, and Zhao Hongbo, 36, were the oldest skaters in the competition, notes Sports Illustrated.
China's rise as a figure skating powerhouse tracks Russia's decline. The collapse of the Soviet Union left a generational gap in Russia's famed sports program. “We went through a messy situation," says one coach. The result, he says, is "a weak generation.” China, of course, is more than happy to jump in. "Records are set to be broken,” Zhao tells the New York Times.