The veteran couple posted a score of 76.66, beating out the world champions from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who weren't far behind at 75.96. Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "In their 2 minutes, 50 seconds of captivating power and effortless beauty, the Chinese set the bar where no pair ever had been." The score beat Shen and Zhao's previous world record, set just a couple of months ago.
Shen, 31, and Zhao, 36, face a tough field in the final, which takes place at 5:00 p.m. PST on February 15 (9 a.m. Beijing time, Feburary 16). The Two other Chinese pairs are still in contention—Pang Qing and Tong Jian finished Sunday in fourth place, and Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao came in at fifth. Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are in third place with a score of 74.16.
Other Chinese athletes competing for medals on February 15 are free cross country skiers Li Hongxue (women) and Xu Wenlong (men), both long shots; and men's speed skaters Yu Fengtong, Zhang Zhongqi, Liu Fangyi and Wang Nan (all men). Yu is China's record holder in the 500 and 1,000 meters, but his best result is a 13th-place finish in the 2005 World Championships.
Related: Shen-Zhao lead pairs figure skating
Tags: 2010 Winter Olympics, figure skating, Shen and Zhao, speed skating, Winter Olympics, world record
Zhang is drawing comparisons to Liu Xiang and Yao Ming as a trailblazing Chinese athlete. And with both the hurdler and the basketball star nursing major injuries, Zhang is undoubtedly China's top active sportsman (sorry, Yi Jianlian). Look for him on ice cream commercials and city bus advertisements soon. He swims again Sunday in the 1,500, an event in which he placed 7th at the Beijing games. In a rare case of collar-popping by a Chinese coach, his coach is predicting another win Sunday, according to Hong Kong newspaper The Standard
Getting less press is Zhao Jing, who took the gold and set a new world record in the women's 50-meter backstroke (27.06 seconds). China's women have won four medals at the games—Liu Zige's silver in the 200 butterfly, a one-three finish for Zhao and Gao Chang in the 50 backstroke, and a gold medal for the four-by-200 backstroke relay team.
Here's a look at a few more Chinese newspapers that highlighted Zhang's win.
Tags: Gao Chang, Liu Zige, swimming, swimming world championships, world record, Zhang Lin, Zhao Jing