BEIJING (AP) — Sui Wenjing and Han Cong exploded from their seats in the kissing and crying area, and a small, carefully chosen crowd of Chinese fans in the stands did the same, as their scores were read in the pairs event at the Beijing Olympics.
Four years after a crushing disappointment at the Pyeongchang Games, when they lost the gold medal by the slimmest of margins, Sui and Han had turned the script around: they were the ones who walked away as champions by a very narrow margin. slim.
Sui and Han scored a world record 239.88 points with a flawless free skate on a rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, beating their Russian rivals Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov by just 63 hundredths of a point.
“We went through a lot because we didn’t expect (to do well) at the very beginning,” said Sui, who along with Han missed gold by 43 hundredths of a point in Pyeongchang. “So today we really gave our best on the ice.”
The golden difference may have been due to Sui and Han opening with a quadruple twist, a high-scoring element that made up for a sloppy triple salchow and saved them from losing their 16 hundredths lead after the short program.
“We just did what we did before. It wasn’t particularly difficult. We just skated our program while we were training,” Morozov said. “We weren’t very stressed. We feel like we are skating together, so it went pretty well for us.
Tarasova and Morozov, coached in part by the polarizing Eteri Tutberidze, finished with 239.25 points to win the silver medal while teammates Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, the reigning world champions, scored 237.71 for winning the bronze medal and capping a strong – and controversial – Winter Games for the Russians.
“When we skated the program and all the elements went well,” Mishina said, “there was that familiar feeling that if we do everything – if we do well – we’re going to win. Here we understood that it might not work that way, and we were just happy that we managed to do everything well.
The Russian team has won two of five gold medals in figure skating and six medals in all, although the total may change in the future as the nation also dominated the Olympic news cycle with another scandal of doping.
One of the gold medals currently belongs to Kamila Valieva and her teammates, who handily won the team event to kick off the program in Beijing. But that medal was withheld after a positive pre-Olympic doping test by Valieva, who finished fourth in the women’s event.was revealed during the first week of the Winter Games.
The International Olympic Committee refused to award the medals, fearing that a full anti-doping investigation could lead to their eventual redistribution. Team USA lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport early Sunday to overturn the IOC’s decision and force a medal ceremony before Sunday’s closing ceremony; the Americans won silver and Japan bronze in the event.
That meant American pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, and Japanese rivals Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, performed their free skates on Saturday not knowing when they would receive their team medals.
It didn’t seem like they cared too much about it.
Miura and Kihara were nearly flawless in their free skate to Shawn Phillips’ “Woman,” jumping from ninth place after their short program and briefly into first place. Knierim and Frazier made just one mistake, on their triple salchows, and a season-best 138.45 for their short program propelled them briefly to the lead.
It wasn’t enough for either team to get on the podium, but it was an uplifting way to end the Olympics.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy,” Frazier said. “It was a real dream come true – it was our real self there. We didn’t let our nerves get the better of us. I made a technical error on the jump on my part. Everything else we did was solid.
Associated Press writers Aaron Morrison and Sally Ho contributed to this report.
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