Shen and Zhao set new world record in short program

It was the perfect Valentine’s gift.

China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo set the tone of the whole competition after breaking their own world record with an astonishing performance on the pairs short program Sunday night at Pacific Coliseum.

“It was a gift for Valentine’s Day,” said Zhao to CTV. “Tomorrow will be more important. Hopefully tomorrow will be as good as today.”

Skating to the theme “Who wants to live forever” the Chinese couple scored 76.66 points, putting aside their mark of 75.36 from December.

Shen, 31, and Zhao, 36, executed perfect triple twists with no collapse on the catch and had an excellent posture during the program. Being so close to each other in the jumps was worth the high mark as well.

Right behind them, Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy finished in second place at 75.96.

Wearing clown costumes, Savchenko and Szolkowy performed a program full of elegance and expression although they have problems with the side-by-side spins being a little bit out of rhythm.

In third place, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov from Russia were at 74.16. They have the chance Monday to continue with the dominion that Russia has had during the Olympics.

Canada’s champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison finished sixth at 65.36. Sunday’s night wasn’t as great for the Canadian couple as Dube fell to the ice trying to land her triple Salchow.

The 22 year-old from Drummondville, Quebec was having problems with the same move days before during training.

“When I was in the air I thought I was going to land it,” said Dube. “For sure the error on the side by side Salchow is costly.”

The surprise of the night was Canada’s Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay who had a clean performance and showed a formed bond that helped them to finish seventh.

Langlois and Hay played safe with a less challenging program but well executed with good speed and good ice coverage.

Overall, China had a good night with a first, fourth and fifth place. Russia tries to keep the fight with a third, eighth and twelfth place whereas the United States remains a little behind in tenth and fourteenth place.

Pairs competition will finish Monday with the free skating where the couples will have the chance to give a better performance in the fight for the gold.