by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(17 January 2014) Volosozhar/Trankov Win Pairs Short Program l
Normally, the European and Worlds Championships begin with the pair competition. But this year in Budapest the pairs were the last to start their event. The reason is TV, German TV ARD has long sport shows on Sunday but no time for figure skating on Thursday evening when the pair free program usually takes place. They want to show especially Germany’s only medal hope Savchenko and Szolkowy on TV. Therefore the pairs short program is on Friday and the pairs free program on Sunday around noon for the first time.
Twenty pairs competed the short program, 16 of whom reached the final. A pair short program looks more attractive than prior to 2010, when the teams still had to perform eight elements in a maximum of 2:50 minutes. Now they have only seven elements in the same time because the second spin was deleted. Therefore the pairs have more time for interesting transitions, and some of them even add small and sometimes innovative elements, for example kind of short dance lifts. On the other hand the step sequence takes longer than years ago if you want to get a high level. This year, the seven elements are a throw, a twist and a side-by-side jump (all three may be double or triple), a backward inside death spiral, a pair combination spin and a step sequence.
Last year’s world champions Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov from Russia are in a comfortable lead with 83.98 points after an outstanding short program. They skated to the Masquerade Waltz by Aram Khatchaturian and were as sovereign as in their Grand Prix. The triple twist is the best and highest in the world and got a + 3 from six of the nine judges. Four other elements had a level 4 as well. Their triple toe loop was very good synchronized. Each of their seven elements go at least one +3, their components had an average of 9.6, with six times a perfect 10.0.
Trankov commented: “Today we skated quite well. We were nervous as we skated towards the end, next to last and the tension was high. But we were able to deal with it and skated with a good mood. In the step sequence we wanted to give everything and to go for a season’s best score, and we did it, we broke our own record. We have improved the choreography. At the Grand Prix Final, we realized that we shouldn’t be overexcited. Our rivals had skated well and we were overly motivated. We just have to enjoy skating, then everything will work.”
The four time world champions Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy from Germany are in second position with 76.76 points. Skating to André Rieu’s romantic music piece “When Winter Comes”, Savchenko stepped out of the throw triple flip which is usually excellent. The six other elements were all very good and got many plus points, but they were a bit slower than the winners. For the first time even their triple twist had a level 4, the other four elements as well and the side-by-side triple toe loop was in very good harmony (two judges gave a +3). Because of their elegance, the components had an average level of 8.9.
Szolkowy said, “We did some small mistakes in our program today and we had a hard time last week to prepare. We didn’t skate with all our power so therefore that was the result of our preparation and I think I can say that we are glad we are sitting here in second place looking forward to the free program and hope we do it better. The throw triple flip was a technical problem for both of us and we’ll analyze it later. Since last night I don’t feel so great but I’m fine.”
Coach Ingo Steuer added: “It wasn’t the best skate today, but they still got a good score and all the levels. Mistakes happen. Obviously they are disappointed now, because the throw flip didn’t work, it’s usually their best element. But considering that we weren’t sure this morning if Aliona can skate at all, it was okay. Aliona’s back problem is better now, but since last night she didn’t stop coughing. It is a beginning bronchitis. Our doctors did everything to help. Now it is about trying to keep her fit.”
Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov from Russia are third, earning 71.70 points. All their elements were safe and clean, but not spectacular, their lift even excellent. Three elements had a level 4, but the death spiral only level 1. Their components reached an average of 7.8. Bazarova commented: “Finally, for the first time this season we did all the elements clean. We can show some more emotion in the free program, the short is more about the technical side anyway and we are pleased with what we showed. We collected our thoughts better and were more focused than in previous competitions this season.”
The third Russian pair of Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov is fourth with 70.90 points. They interpreted the flamenco-style “Surrender” by Jesse Cook and performed seven clean elements. Stolbova commented: “Today it felt like pretty hard work to get through the program, but we did everything we planned to, although it was difficult.”
The Italian champions Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek sit in fifth place with 69.22 points after a flawless and lively performance to the soundtrack of “The Mask”. Their highlight was a spectacular and acrobatic one-arm lift. Three elements had a level 4, the death spiral level 2 and the triple twist a level 3. Berton said, “It’s almost the first time we got a level 3 in the twist. We have been working on this all summer with Jason (Dungjen). It’s one of the first time he has come with us to a competition and we got the level 3, so we’ll bring him with us more often.”
Hotarek commented: “We are honored to skate on Sunday. It is the first time the ISU has given us the opportunity and it means a lot of people can watch this event. We have always been skating on Wednesday and Thursday and it meant many people could not watch it.”
The French champions Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprès got 63.23 points and are sixth. The triple twist was quite shaky, but the other elements clean. Andrea Davidovich and Evgeni Krasnopolski who skate for Israel and train in Hackensack, New Jersey, are seventh with 55.32 points. Their triple twist had a lot of height, but she stepped out of the throw triple Salchow. Maylin and Daniel Wende are the second German pair and also qualified for the Olympic Games. The husband-and-wife team is eighth with 55.19 points after performing to “November Rain” by David Garrett, but Daniel Wende fell on the triple toe loop.