Brother-Sister Skating Pairs, Too Close for Comfort

"These teams are together day in and day out for so many hours that they pretty much are forced into some sort of relationship and then they move from there," said Sarah Granger, a former national figure skating competitor who writes a column for BlogHer. "An unusually high number of couples end up married."

Canadian figure skaters David Pelletier and Jamie Sale were living together when they won gold at the 2002 Olympics. They married in 2005. They now have a 2-year-old son.

Four-time U.S. pairs champions and three-time Olympians Todd and Jenni-Meno Sand, who met at the 1992 Winter Olympics, are now married and coaching at the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.

Husband-Wife Skating Pairs

One of the most romantic couples from the old Soviet Union, Sergei Grinkov and Ekaterina Gordeeva, won Olympic gold in Calgary in 1988, then went on to marry. He collapsed and died from a massive heart attack at the age of 27 in 1995 at Lake Placid, N.Y., while they were practicing for their Stars on Ice tour.

"She was younger than he, and they fell in love, and were amazing the way that was transported onto the ice," said Granger. "You could see their emotion and their connectedness. They were up there with the best in terms of unison."

Later, Gordeeva married 1998 men's gold medalist Ilia Kulik . They have one child.

"That interdependent dimension is really important for skating, where harmony and grace are so important," said Steven Reiss, emeritus professor of psychology and psychiatry at The Ohio State University, who has written about the mindset of athletes for Psychology Today.

"If they had a strong competitive spirit, that could work against each other," he said. "You don't want independence, you want interdependence. If you are quarreling, that becomes an issue."

"You get angry over something, you get even," he said. "Stress adds up. So you have the stress of competition, and now you have the stress of a relationship. And when you are under stress, you tend to regress and go back to bad habits."

The best paired skaters are noncompetitive, according to Riess. "They are achievement-oriented, but not vengeful or spiteful."

But New York sports psychologist Richard Lustberg is just as cynical about loving couples who do figure eights together.

"Sometimes it's not best to do with business with your own family, and there's a good reason for that old adage," said Lustberg, who works with young athletes.

Skating Pairs 'Emotionally Charged'

"It's an emotionally-charged relationship," Lustberg said. "These routines are very fine-tuned, and to introduce another element doesn't seem wise. But it's not uncommon today with Hollywood film stars dating each other. There are always relationships anytime on the set or working closely professionally -- these things happen."

Though Zhao and Shen -- bronze medalists at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics -- flawlessly executed their spins, throws and jumps as they gazed into each other's eyes, Lustberg wonders how that bliss can last, especially if a baby is on the agenda.

"There's always an exception, but how do you know this couple can handle it?" he told "Arguments over children and money? Imagine when there are coaches and in-laws, all of that on a daily basis. I am not one for complications. Life and athletics should be as simple as possible.

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