Sport

Blades of glory

Comeback-on-ice

Zhao's got his wife under control

There will be many who think the ‘death spiral’ was perfected by Dick Fuld and his management team at Lehman Brothers.

But a Chinese ice skating duo want to lay claim to a perfect spiral of their own.

The death spiral (the woman is swung one-bladed around her partner in a pivot circle, her nose a couple of inches from the ice) takes its place in skating’s sequinned world of Arabian cartwheels and camel spins.

It’s a context in which China’s leading figure skating pair of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo have been dominant.

The duo just took a sixth ISU Figure Skating Final title in Tokyo, winning with a record score.

The husband and wife team actually came out of retirement this year, with a goal of winning gold at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February. They’ve won all three competitions they’ve skated in so far, and upped their score on each occasion.

“The score of 214 was awesome and a surprise,” says 36 year-old Zhao. However, by his own assessment the Zhao’s are only “at eight out of 10 at the moment”. He expects the couple to perfect their routine in the coming weeks.

The pair are three time world champions, but have finished as bronze medallists in previous Olympiads. Their biggest rivals in Vancouver will be the Germans, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, whom they beat in Tokyo by 14 points.

The stats are on the Chinese couple’s side, even if age might be thought to favour the German pair. At both the previous Olympics, gold has gone to the winner of the event Shen and Zhao have just won in Tokyo.

“We never realised that but it’s good news for us,” Zhao told the China Daily. “The Olympic gold medal has always been our dream and we will strive for it step by step.”


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