Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao's rendition of "Turandot" at the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships needs little introduction. It is one of the most emotional and beautiful moments in sport. Xue Shen had injured her ankle at the championships, and received injections to relieve the pain. Her courageous battle through this flawless freeskate, and the raw emotions on her face make this performance all the more poignant.
What's interesting is that my sister and I were actually in the arena (the MCI Center in Washington, D.C.) just before the start of the pairs competition. We were there to see the women's qualifying round competition. My uncle knew someone who connected us to getting free seats in one of the suites, and we had a spectacular time watching Michelle Kwan, among others! But anyway, as we were leaving the arena, the crowds started to pile in for the pairs event. We wished we were staying for that competition, and I wished that even more once I saw the wonders of the competition on TV later. Shen and Zhao were extraordinary! Just extraordinary! I gravel at their skates!
I don't think I need to tell you that this performance won them their second-consecutive World Championship. They went on to become Olympic Champions in Vancouver last February!
This performance will definitely bring some cheer and joy on this day in the Christmas countdown! :)