Sui, Han earn Olympic gold at last in pairs figure skating

BEIJING ( Associated Press) — Sui Wenjing and Han Cong captured the Olympic gold medal that eluded them by a razor-thin margin four years ago, edging Russian rivals Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov by less than a point on Saturday to win the pairs figure skating competition at the Beijing Games.

Sui and Han, the two-time world champions, were last to take the ice and had to follow spectacular programs by Tarasova and Morozov and fellow Russian skaters Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov. And they did so with aplomb, scoring a world-record 239.88 points to take the top step of the podium by 63 hundredths of a point.

It’s the step Sui and Han lost out on by 43 hundredths of a point at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Tarazova and Morozov, coached in part by the polarizing Eteri Tutberidze, scored 239.25 points while Mishina and Galliamov, the reigning world champions, scored 237.71 to earn the bronze medal and cap a strong — and controversial — Olympics for the Russians.

The team won two of the five figure skating gold medals and six medals in all, though that total could change in the future because the Russians also dominated the news cycle with another Olympic doping scandal.

One of the gold medals currently belongs to Kamila Valieva and her teammates, who handily won the team event to start the Beijing program. But that medal is being withheld after a positive pre-Olympic drug test from Valieva, who finished fourth in the women’s eventcame to light during the first week of the Winter Games.

The International Olympic Committee has refused to award the medals at all, but the American team filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to hold a medal ceremony before Sunday’s closing ceremony. The US won the silver medal and Japan took the bronze in the event.

That meant the American pair of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, and Japanese rivals Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, performed their free skates Saturday still unsure of when they would receive their team medals.

It didn’t look as if they were too worried about it.

Miura and Kihara were nearly flawless in their free skate to “Woman” by Shawn Phillips, leaping from ninth after their short program and briefly into first place. Knierim and Frazier made only one mistake, on their triple salchows, and a season-best 138.45 for their short program briefly sent them into the lead.

It wasn’t enough for either team to land on the podium, but it was an uplifting way to finish the Olympics.

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Associated Press writers Aaron Morrison and Sally Ho contributed to this report.

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More Associated Press Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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