Sui Wenjing (R) and Han Cong of China compete during the pair skating short program of figure skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, in Gangneung Ice Arena, South Korea, on Feb. 14, 2018. Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won the first place in the pair skating short program with 82.39 points. (Xinhua/Wang Haofei)
China's medal hopeful Sui Wenjing/Han Cong finish the first place in the figure skating short program at the PyeongChang Olympics on Wednesday after posting a personal best of 82.39 points.[Special coverage]
Another medal favorite Evgenia Tarasova/Valdimir Morozov of the Olympic Athletes of Russia won the second with 81.68 points, followed by Canadian veterans Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford with 76.82 points, who just won a gold medal at the team event on Monday.
Sui/Han, multiple world champions but first-time Olympians, are hopeful for becoming the second Chinese tandem to win the Olympic gold in this event, after their coach Zhao Hongbo paring his wife Shen Xue won in 2010.
The pair showed their strength in the music of Hallelujah with a clean and complete program, earning them the highest technical score of 44.49 points among the peers.
"We're in good shape and we have fully show today what we are trained for. I hope we can do better in the final," said Han.
Unlike Han, Sui admitted that she suffered a mental crash before the game.
"I kept crying while doing my makeups. I don't know why, maybe because of pressure. But it turned out to be a good thing. I could skate into the rink, composed and focused," said Sui.
Another Chinese combination, Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao, who have paired up for less than two years, took their personal best 75.58, redeeming themselves from the disqualification into the team event final.
Skating into a re-arranged Swan Lake, the pair presented a high-quality routine featuring airy triple toeloop jumps and steady triple twist lift.
"I'm very happy (with the score). I could barely hold back myself from smiling after the first successful triple toeloop jump, but I did, after all, the role white swan I was playing is supposed to be sad," said Yu.
The 33-year-old Zhang, the silver medalist of 2006 Turin Games and five-time Olympian, are also confident with the following free skating.
"We have made plan B, plan C or even plan D (for the final), regarding different situation on the ice. But most important of all, it's a mental game and we should have confidence in ourselves and each others," he said,
One of the game's highlights came when Ryom Tae-ok/Kim Ju-sik from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) made their Olympic debut at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Despite an unsynchronized combination spin, the confident pair scored their personal best 69.40 points and were qualified to long program event by finish the short program before a loud, adoring host audience and a DPRK female cheer squad, all in conspicuous red uniforms.
"First of all, there have been no inconveniences whatsoever to life in South Korea. We could really feel the power and the energy of the Korean people," said Kim.
"We are very happy to skate in our first Olympics and compete with pairs from other countries," said the 19-year-old Ryom.
Despite the fancy beginning for China in event, a third Chinese pair Peng Cheng/Jin Yang ended their first Olympics with pity after held back into the final as Peng stumbled on their opening triple toeloop jump and fell onto the ice, which cost them one point to finish the 17th.
Sixteen out of 22 pairs are qualified into the free skating scheduled on Thursday.