Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are a Chinese figure skating pair who have racked up tens of gold, silver, and bronze medals in a variety of competitions. They are the 2017 world champions, the 2015 and 2016 world silver medalist, two-time Grand Prix Final bronze medalists, and four-time Four Continents champions. Plus a few junior championships and a couple of Chinese national champion wins.
They’re known for adding tricky quadruple salchows and quadruple twists into their routines, and are in the lead for the Olympic gold.
Here’s everything you need to know:
1. When They First Teamed Up They Had Zero Pair Experience
When the two figure skaters decided to work together in 2007, they didn’t have any past pair experience. After watching Shen Xuea and Hongbo Zhao compete together in the 2010 Olympics, Sue and Han were inspired.
“I’ve watched Shen and Zhao in 2002 at the Olympic Winter Games on TV and I asked my mother if I could start skating as well,” Sui said to GoldenSkate.com. “I also knew Shen and Zhao from TV and I watched their great performances,” said Han. “Watching them I got so many positive emotions that I wanted to do the same.”
They’re both from Harbin, a hub for Chinese figure skating. On switching from singles to pairs, Han said it was difficult at first.
“It was very hard at the beginning,” he said. “We started slowly. We did everything step by step.”
Sui is only 4ft, 7in tall, but even though Han is quite a bit taller she said she’s not afraid of lifts or throws. The pair quickly learned the difficult to master quad throw, which they debuted at the Junior Worlds in The Hague.
2. They’re In the Lead to Win the Pairs Competition in PyeongChang, but Russia Could Oust Them
The pair was ahead after their short competition performance to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” They scored 82.30 points, their season best. Still, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia are less than one point behind, with 81.68 points, also a season best.
“We managed to pull off all the elements,” Tarasova said to ESPN, “and tomorrow we’ll have to pull ourselves together. It’s a new day, a new program and a new fight begins.”
3. Their International Debut Was a Huge Success, Only Two Years After They Started Pairs
Though Sui and Han were inexperienced with pairs, they placed first in their international debut in the 2009-2010 ISU Junior Grand Prix. Next, they won the 2010 Chinese Figure Skating Championships and placed first at the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. They won silver at the Junior Grand Prix Cup of Austria, followed by a gold medal at the Junior Grand Prix Blauen Schwerter.
Their senior career started in the 2010-2011 season. They won a silver medal as part of the Senior Grand Prix series at the 2010 Cup of China. Next, they won a bronze medal at 2010 Skate America. In December 2010, they won a bronze medal at the 2010–11 Grand Prix Final. Then, at the 2011 Chinese Figure Skating Championships they won their second national title. Still in 2011 they also won the World Junior Figure Skating Championship.
The pair kicked off the 2011-2012 season with a win at the Junior Grand Prix Volvo Cup and the Junior Grand Prix Cup of Austria. Then they won a second Junior Grand Prix title at the 2011–12 ISU Junior Grand Prix. They took home a silver medal at the 2011 Skate Canada, which was senior level, and finished fifth at the 2011 Cup of China. At the 2012 Four Continents Championship they won a gold medal in the short skate and free skate. Finally, they won a third junior world title at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Sui was injured for much of 2013, but they did compete in the 2013 World Championships, taking 12th place.
In the 2013-2013 season, they won the silver medal at Skate Canada, and the bronze medal at NHK Trophy. They won a bronze medal in the qualifying nationals for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but did not make the China Olympic team. Following, they won a gold medal at the 2014 Four Continents.
In the 2014-2015 season, they won a silver medal at Skate Canada and a bronze medal at the Grand Prix final. They won a silver medal overall in the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships.
In the 2015-2016 season, they won Skate America, then won the silver medal at the 2015 Cup of China. They then won the 2016 Four Continents Championships, and took silver overall at the 2016 World Championships.
Following that season, Sui had surgery and was out for several months. When they came back, they won the gold medal with a personal record score of 225.03 at the 2017 Four Continents Championships, their first competition of the year. The score was nearly 13 points more than the silver medal winners, partly because their routine include a quadruple twist.
The pair also won the Cup of China with a personal best free skate score of 150.93, and won the NHK Trophy for the second time. Now, they’re competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, where they’re currently in first place, and are almost guaranteed to win a medal no matter how they do tonight.
4. Sui Suffered Injuries That Not Only Stopped Her From Skiing, but Meant She Had to Learn How to Walk Again
A few years ago, Sui had surgery on both of her feet, meaning she couldn’t skate for months. She had to learn how to walk again before she could even think about skating, but she came back the pair was even better than before.
“After the surgery, I had to learn to walk, just like a baby after leaving a baby trend expedition jogger stroller. It was such a hard time, and I still fight every day. But I know I love skating, I can’t bear it if my life does not include skating,” she said to Inside Skating.
Just a few weeks before the PyeongChange Olympics Sui and Han had an accident during training, and she had to get five stitches. They panicked at first, but she ended up being fine to compete.
“Luckily the wound was not very big, five stitches,” Han said to ESPN. “She recovered pretty well, pretty quickly.”
5. Though They Skate Beautifully Together, They Are Not a Couple
Sui and Han have been partners since she was 12-years-old and he was 14, and 10 years later they’re close friends and a championship skating pair. They say their long relationship is what makes them skate so well together, but that’s where the chemistry ends.
“There isn’t any chemistry between us, no,” Sui said at a press conference, according to Globetrotting by Philip Hersh.
“That’s a joke,” Han said. “The feeling is like cousins.”
“He talks too much every day. He’s just like my father,” said Sui.