So yesterday, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China won gold for the ice skating pairs competition. Um...what? For those of you not keeping track, since 1964, Soviet or Russian skaters have won the pairs competition. This year, no Russian pair even won a medal. Oleg Vasiliev, a 1984 Olympic pairs champion, has some thoughts as to how this could have happened:
"The breakup of the Soviet Union essentially cost Russia a generation of pairs skaters... The pipeline of government funding — free flowing in the sports-as-propaganda time of communism — began to dry up. Rinks closed to be transformed into other businesses, like car dealerships and shopping malls. Some top coaches left to work in the United States, where they could be assured of teaching private lessons and getting paid."
It is the end of era.