Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia led the short program as they surpassed Chinese Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao by 3.92 points in the pair's figure skating of the 20th Winter Olympics on Saturday.
Totmianina/Marinin started with a flawless forward inside death spiral, following with a throw triple loop, a triple toeloop and a double twist. They were awarded 68.64 points (35,93 element score/ 32.71 component score).
The Russian pair won each event they entered this season, including the ISU Grand Prix final and their fifth consecutive European title in Lyon, France, in January.
Chinese rising star Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao came into the second with a total of 64.72 points and another Russian pair Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhnov conceded to the third by 64.27 points.
"There are small problems in the program, but I felt great. I don't know what will happen in the free skating, so let's just wait," Totmianina told the press in the mixed zone.
Totmianina and her partner withdrew from the 2006 Russian Championships as she was suffering from cholecystitis, an acute inflammation of the gall bladder.
"I did not take medicine just avoid any doping offence," she added.
While competing in the pairs free skating at Skate America in 2004, Totmianina was dropped on her head while attempting an overhead lift and lost consciousness.
"I had no memory of my fall. When I woke up in the hospital, the first thing I said was whether I could continue my figure skating career."
"I have never thought of giving up figure skating even in my hardest time in 2004."
Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, who won the 11th place in their debut in the 2002 Olympics, finished second at the Grand Prix final in Tokyo this season and actually beat Totmianina and Marinin in the technical score.
"We are quite satisfied both in technical and program component.
Comparatively speaking, we are not good at program component, but just now when landing on the ice, I felt I had sensed the right way to express myself. This is the best short program we have ever skated," Zhang Hao said.
"We don't speak about gold, but just about having a perfect performance on Monday," Zhang Dan added.
Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhnov of Russia, the current world silver medalists, produced a good triple toeloop, a double twist, a throw triple loop as well as pare combination spin and forward inside death spiral.
(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2006)