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Zhang Dan, Zhang Hao Mature on Ice
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They hugged, although they rarely did so on the ice. This time, they hugged not for the silver medal, but for the bitter-sweet experience they shared in the Turin Olympic Games.

Chinese figure skating pair Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, who had aimed at a gold, failed in the first and the most difficult move -throw quad salchow in the free skating on Monday.

Zhang Dan fell on the ice and hurt the knees.  After the program was interrupted for two minutes, they decided to continue. Finally, they took the silver ahead of their teammates Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.

"I felt my mind went blank when she fell on the ice, but we did not want to give up," Zhang Hao said.

"I failed in the throw quad salchow, but I was confident to finish the other moves and jumps. Furthermore, the Olympics was such a precious experience and we would not give up so easily," Zhang Dan added.

"We will work harder after the Turin Games and I want to skate again four years later," said Zhang Hao.

Always considered the third-ranked pair in the star-studded Chinese team, after the 2002 bronze medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo and Pang Qing and Tong Jian, the two Zhangs are maturing.

They teamed up at the end of 1997 when Zhang Dan was 12 and Zhang Hao was 13.

The young duo won the title at the World Junior Grand Prix Beijing leg in 1998, which sent them to the national team coached by Yao Bin.

In 2000, they came fourth in the World Junior World Championships and a year later, they executed a first-ever quadruple twist at the World Juniors before they claimed the title, which earned them a ticket to the 2002 Games.

They made an unimpressive debut at the Salt Lake City Games as they finished 11th among 20 skaters.

Zhang Dan, who stands 1.62 meters tall and weighs 42kg, is slim and delicate. Zhang Hao is 1.81m tall and 86kg. Fans would make fun of their differences and call them a combination of "Beauty and Beast".

"It is unfair to call him 'beast'. He is kind and handsome. He takes good care of me," said Zhang Dan.

"Once I was sick, he took me to hospital and fed me medicine. He looks after me just like my mom."

Zhang Hao likens himself to "green leaves" and his partner to "red flower".

"We need each other and support each other all the way," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2006)

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