The Rise and Fall and Rise of a Skating Superpower

When Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao took to the ice in the pairs figure-skating final in Torino last week, most Chinese knew the song they skated to by heart. The Offspring of Dragons celebrates the glory of a mighty civilization. "There's a dragon in the ancient East, its name is China," go the folk song's stirring lyrics. By the time the final standings were tallied in the Olympic competition, the Zhangs' choice of music seemed particularly prescient. Although Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin won the 12th consecutive pairs gold for Russia (or, previously, the Soviet Union), the Chinese nabbed the silver...

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