Archive for the ‘skating comebacks’ Tag

“That’s Huge”: Shen & Zhao Are Back

Thanks to the Susan over at Lifeskate (both are huge), I came upon this video, which provides an enticing glimpse of pairs team Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao in training for the Vancouver Games. What a sight for sore eyes they are, helping to brighten my skating perspective this week, after the deeply sad Bobek news! (And, btw, they’re “huge” too.) This shows them at work on their Long Program, to Albinoni’s “Adagio”. I’m not terribly excited about this selection, as it’s too played and rather dreary, but I trust they will make it their own and breathe new life into it. It’s very reassuring to see them already seemingly in top form, as best I can judge from this brief segment.

 

jcm was one of the earliest online voices to focus the comeback spotlight on them, with this poll, and this post. With all the talk of Cohen, Kwan and Plushy/Zhenya they continue to get unfairly lost in the shuffle…at least in the US.

They’re pretty much guaranteed a spot on the Chinese Olympic Team since there is no true fourth contending team at this time. For them to skate well would alone make the trip to Vancouver worth it. But, for them to take gold, or a medal of any color would be a triumph for all “mature” (yes, even in their 30s!) skaters and athletes…a reminder that it’s not just a sport for little girls (although they’re “huge” too…but I didn’t mean in THAT way…apologies to Jenny Kirk), and that sometimes maturity and experience can prevail. This is a message our sport dearly needs.

I’m hoping they add to their already amazing legacy, as 3-time World Champions, and 2-time Olympic Bronze Medalists! At ages 31 (Shen) and 36 (Zhao), this would be their fourth Olympic Games, which surely only a handful of pairs teams have accomplished. If they medal, they’ll be the second pairs team in history to do so three times. Andrée Joly (later Brunet) and Pierre Brunet (FRA: 2 golds, 1 bronze) were the first and only other team to reach this competitive milestone. All other Olympic pairs teams achieved theirs with at least two partners: Artur Dmitriev (RUS: 2 golds, 1 silver) with Mishkutenok and Kasakova, Irina Rodnina (RUS: 3 golds) with Ulanov and Zaitsev.

Here are the full details on their announced programs for this season:

 Short Program               Long Program              
Who Wants To Live Forever
by Queen
performed by David Garrett
choreographed by Lori Nichol
Adagio
by Tomaso Albinoni
performed by Eroica Trio
choreographed by Lori Nichol

They are slated to compete in this season’s Grand Prix circuit at both Cup of China and Skate America. They would not face their main competition, German’s Savchenko and Szolkowy until the Grand Prix Final, if they both make it there. So, the truest suspense of how those two teams will match up will be saved for then, or at the Vancouver Games themselves. Savcheko and Szolkowy have momentum on their side, but both teams promise some MAJOR competition!

"That's Huge" “That’s huge”!

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Hallelujah! Shen & Zhao Return

icenetwork.com verified what the ISU Grand Prix09 season lineup first revealed! Chinese pair Shen & Zhao are back in the game! They will appear at Cup of China, and Skate America, and are aiming for a ticket to Vancouver in ’10. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they beat out their compatriots Zhang & Zhang, their biggest competition, to win both titles.

Shen & Zhao

Out of all the comeback news (officially announced to date, that is), this is arguably the most welcome, and they are arguably the most loved skaters attempting this return to competitive ice. They are among my favorite pairs teams of all time, and made My Desert Island Skates list, with their inspirational Turandot long program, at ’03 Worlds. That performance will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Watch it here, if you missed it.

Shen & Zhao off iceWhen they made their competitive exit after the ’07 season (with 3 World titles and 2 Olympic bronze medals in their cache), they were still in top form, and on top of the competitive field. Only Hongbo’s achilles injury and recovery threatened their future viability. Hopefully, although they’ve been very busy with skating shows and off-ice commitments, with a break from the demands of competition they will return to top form. Thankfully, China is guaranteed three berths at the Vancouver Games, so this return will not rob Pang & Tong, or Zhang & Zhang an opportunity to have their moment.

I extend to them (and their fans) a sincere “Welcome back!” and, “GO GET ‘EM!”. As much as I love Savchenko & Szolkowy, I’d love to see Shen & Zhao take the gold in Vancouver. They will easily be the sentimental favorites, but hopefully more. I feel it’s their turn, and were it not for the extensive training they missed, due to Hongbo’s injury, would have been theirs in Torino.

Take me!