Silver Medals, Golden Hearts

Silver Medals, Golden Hearts

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What a treat we all received during the pairs figure skating competition at the Olympics. The first night was nothing to write how about. The second night of the event was pure inspiration and courage.

On the second night, skaters showed their true grit. Maxim Marinin of Russia fought demons from a mistake in 2002. Hongbo Zhao of China had everything riding on his torn achilles tendon. He had only started jumping a week or so before the Olympics. Hongbo and partner, Xue Shen, got their program with only minor errors. The tendon held up. Marinin and partner, Tatiana Totmianina, were flawless if a bit conservative. By the time the last pair took the ice, the Russians were in first and the Chinese were in last.

The last pair, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang took the ice. They had a new move in their repertoire, something no one had ever tried: A throw quad solchow. The music started and almost immediately they made their attempt. Hao Zhang flew through the air, but she slammed to the ice, smashing her knee and contorting her legs. She crashed into the side of the rink. Her partner helped her slowly hobble off the ice. She could barely move her leg.

It seemed their Olympic dreams were over as they exited the rink. Pain was written all over Zhang’s face. Then a few minutes later, the couple got back on the ice. Zhang decided she would give it another try. At least, they could say the finished their program. The glided over the ice trying to get back into their music. And, then they began. From there it was pure magic. The skated, jumped, and twirled as if there was no tomorrow. Hao Zhang floated over the ice as if she hadn’t even fallen minutes before. She landed her throws better than many of the earlier skaters. Their performance was flawless and when the music ended, they were greeted to a standing ovation which included the other performers and coaches.

When their scores came up, everyone cheered. Zhang’s courage earned them a Silver Medal. She could have walked away from the ice and no one would have faulted her for it. But, she decided to give it a second try. She gave it her all and it turned out to be the performance of their lives.

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