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Chinese couple takes lead in pairs

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo are sure to remember this Valentine's Day. The married couple broke their own world record with a mesmerizing performance to open the pairs short program competition last night, and it took until the very last pair - about three hours later - for anyone to come close to topping the Chinese duo. With a score of 76.66, Shen and Zhao lead two-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany by just .70 points.

That's nothing going into tonight's free skate, a margin that can be made up with one flourish of a hand.

Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are in third.

Shen, 31, and Zhao, 36, retired after winning their third world title in 2007. But the couple, winners of the bronze medal at the last two Winter Games, couldn't resist one last run at elusive Olympic gold.

Frenchman takes biathlon

Lashed by sheets of rain and snow, Vincent Jay of France won a biathlon gold medal in his Olympic debut. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won the silver medal, 12.2 seconds back. Jakov Fak of Croatia got the bronze, finishing another 1.8 seconds behind.

Tim Burke, hoping to become the first American to win an Olympic medal in biathlon, missed three shots and finished 47th. Jeremy Teela was the best American, in ninth place despite missing two shots.

Czech woman breaks through

Martina Sablikova gave the Czech Republic its first Olympic medal in speedskating with a gold in the women's 3,000 meters in Richmond, British Columbia. Sablikova, 22, finished in 4 minutes, 2.53 seconds, more than 2 seconds ahead of silver medalist Stephanie Beckert of Germany (4:04.62). Canada settled for a bronze from Kristina Groves (4:04.84).

- AP

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