Throwback Thursday: Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao

The Olympics are upon us! Hooray! This post marks the last Throwback Thursday post for the Sochi Olympics. The next Throwback Thursdays will come if this blog is still alive in 4 years for Pyeongchang 2018.

Shen and Zhao - Olympics SP

For my last Throwback Thursday post, I wanted to feature skaters who I thought exemplified the best of the Olympic spirit.

Firstly, it must be said that Shen & Zhao’s success grew out of someone else’s resolve after their own personal failures. That person, is their coach, Bin Yao. Bin Yao’s story is a favourite among commentators: back when Bin Yao was a pairs skater himself, China was still quite closed off to the rest of the world and figure skating was indeed a very foreign sport in China. Yao could only learn about pairs skating elements through photographs in books. In all their competitions, Yao and his partner never did very well – in fact, the audience was laughing at them at the 1980 World Championships. However, 30 years later, Yao established himself as one of the foremost coaches in pairs skating and he has single-handedly turned China into a pairs powerhouse. At the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, his students placed 1st, 2nd and 5th. Now, Shen & Zhao coach alongside Bin Yao, inspiring and improving the next generation of Chinese pairs skaters.

Shen & Zhao is a beautiful team not only because of their love for each other but for the love of their sport. At the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, they were aged 31 and 36 respectively. In terms of pairs skating, that is considered to be very ancient since the competitive life of a figure skater is short. The sport is dominated by teenagers and skaters often retire by age 25. Injuries are not unusual and in a discipline that requires athletes to throw or be be thrown around, being young is always helpful. Yet, despite all of this, Shen & Zhao persevered, set records throughout that season and became Olympic Champions.

For showing us that the impossible was possible, for showing us that age does not always prevent you from triumphing in a sport ruled by teenagers and for inspiring a new generation of skaters with their resilience, love of sport and ambition, I present to you Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, the last athletes for the Sochi 2014 Throwback Thursday posts.

Gold medallists China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo pose during the medals ceremony after the pairs figure skating finals at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

The Olympics are here! Are you excited?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Pure Love: Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao… dancing

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao were the first ones to make me tear up after watching a skating program. (2003 Worlds – Turandot LP) The program was so well choreographed and skated to perfection with the most beautiful emotions behind it. Their love for each other and the trust between both partners was so evident and everything just fell into place despite Shen’s injury.

Aunt Joyce recently posted a video of the pair on a dancing show:

I only have a basic grasp of Mandarin so forgive me for any mistakes in the translation. The fluff at the beginning was about how they usually dance on ice but they’re transferring skills on the floor. I think Xue said something about feeling safe because she’s with her husband. Both of them expressed a wish to win the competition. So they danced and right off the top, the first judge tells them they should leave the competition because they’re just too good. Shen and Zhao said that they feel that they would like to learn about how to move on the floor. The transvestite/transgendered judge complained about Xue’s dress and how she reacted at one point even before Hongbo touched her. The rest of the judges, though, told them that they’re too good for competition and that they’ve basically won without having to compete because they’re just that good. They ended up dancing one more time and one of the judges noted that no one’s ever gotten a standing ovation and that is a testament of how good they are.

So, I guess we can interpret this as, they’ve won the competition without having to go through the entire thing. Pity we can’t see them dance some more though.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Moment in History: HAPPY NEW YEAR~! (Part II of yesterday’s post)

So, today on the lunar calendar, Shen and Zhao set a new world record at the Olympics for their short program. (I did yesterday’s post a day too early.) The day after that last year, something even more magical happened:

Mother Russia’s reign over the pairs discipline was completely shattered – they weren’t even on the podium – and China came out on top with the gold and silver medal. I remember that night as if it were yesterday…

The evening was full of splatfests: on the fashion front and on the skating front.

Shen and Zhao had never skated their long program clean and they unfortunately couldn’t skate it clean at the Olympics. It was still a valiant effort and their scores from the SP held them up for gold. (Please ignore the lady commentating, it’s true that they made mistakes but the lady commentator was just being a bitch.)

Shen and Zhao’s LP

However, if it makes you feel better, no team skated clean that night except for Pang and Tong. It was such a refreshing thing to watch:

Pang and Tong’s Olympic LP

And of course, the one who is probably proudest of this moment was this man:

I don’t think anyone is laughing at him now.

Just a correction, I messed up the dates for the lunar new year. So this day last year on the lunar calendar would be the pairs SP while the pairs’ LP would have been tomorrow. >_< I did everything a day early. Oh well.

Happy New Year~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Moment in History: This Day Last Year… sort of (Part I)

***Correction: I wrote this post a day too early so pretend it was published the next day.

So last year, on this day on the lunar calendar, something super special happened. You don’t remember? Well, first of all, it was the first day of the year of the Tiger.

The special thing happened in Canada. And on the Gregorian calendar, it was Singles Awareness Day Valentine’s Day.

Still don’t remember what happened? More

The Highlights of 2010

2010 has been a great year for figure skating. The Vancouver Olympics were absolutely amazing and it’s sad that the year is about to end. Let’s hope that 2011 will be just as amazing. For now, let’s stroll through memory lane and think of a few good times in 2010.

(More under the cut since this is a bit of a long post…)