By sportswriter Li Jia
SAPPORO, Japan, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- China dominated the pairs figure skating competition at the eighth Asian Winter Games with a 1-2 finish here on Saturday.
Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao, who just paired up nine months ago, delivered a stellar free skate performance, picking up a season best 145.98 points for a winning total of 223.88.
Another Chinese pair Peng Cheng/Jin Yang took the silver with 197.06, while DPR Korea's Ryom Tae Ok/Kim Ju Sik came third in 177.40.
Danced to "Cavatina", Yu and Zhang nailed the triple twist, the triple toeloop and double toeloop, the double Axel and the throw triple loop and salchow. Their jumps were neat and their sequences were smooth.
"I want to prove myself today, because I made several minor errors in the free skate during the Four Continents Championships. At that time I thought too much, so today I wanted to skate a smooth performance," said Yu, 21, who ranked second in short program with Zhang at the Four Continents Championships but slipped to the fourth after their free skate last week.
"I gave all myself in the free skate," she added. "Physically we are very tired but we made it today, and we didn't have big mistakes. I want to applaud for myself."
Zhang was dripping with sweat. "The program is exhausting," said the 33-year-old. "We didn't feel good this morning in training, but we adjust ourselves soon. Before our free skate, when I held her hands, I knew both of us have faith to win."
Before pairing up with veteran Zhang, Yu had skated with Jin Yang for nine years, while Peng used to dance with Zhang. The two Chinese pairs switched partners nine months ago and after a hard time it seems they are both in good condition.
"It's difficult at first," said Yu, who was a two-time world junior champion with Jin. "I had skated with Jin for nine years, so I was upset to dance with a new partner. But I know it's a good thing for both of us, so I accept it."
According to veteran Zhang, who won a silver at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics with his first partner Zhang Dan and had an eighth place with Peng at the 2014 Sochi Games, Yu shared the same dream with himself.
"We want to take part in the 2018 Olympic Games, and we want good result," said Zhang. "We will realise our dream step by step. First, we will try our best at the coming World Championships, and then the Grand Prix next year."
The 2018 PyeongChang Games will be Zhang's fifth Winter Olympics, but the first for Yu.
The pair performed throw quadruple jumps at the Four Continents last week, but the sequence with high difficulty degree also goes along with mistakes.
"We only practiced a few times, maybe 30, so it was still hard for us," Zhang said.
"But we have to increase the difficulty degree at the World Championships, which is only about 20 days to go. It's a trend in the world," Zhang said. "If we can score the same as we did today, I'll be very happy."
The other new pair Peng and Jin were also getting along better and better.
"When I first skated with Jin, there were so many things needed to be changed, so it was a hard time," said Peng. "But now we are good."
Skated to "I Will Wait for You", Peng and Jin scored 129.82 in the free skate and collected 197.06 in total.
"I am satisfied with our overall performance, though there were some errors at first," Jin said. The pair took a fifth finish at the Four Continents Championships last week where China's come-back duo Sui Wenjing/Han Cong won the gold.
China boasts of a glorious pairs team in figure skating. In the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, comeback stars Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won the gold, becoming the first ever non-European couple to be crowned in the Olympic pairs figure skating history.
Another famous pair Pang Qing and Tong Jian took the silver in Vancouver.