Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy Withdraw from Europeans

By Alexandra Stevenson

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the defending 2011 European champions, who also won the European title in 2007, 2008 & 2009 but not 2010, withdrew from this yearís event after Wednesday morningís practice.

Savchenko, 28, suffered a left thigh injury falling heavily on a throw triple Axel jump on January 12 on their home rink in Chemnitz in Germany. They lost much training time because their doctor then forbad them to work on this move.

However, they still traveled to Sheffield on Monday hoping to, at least, as Szolkowy explained, "walk through our routine" in this event. "We donít like to give up. We have spent so much time on this move. We want to do something that is difference from the other skaters."

The pair began trying this move only this season. In their first international competition, Skate America, in Ontario, CA, she fell but said she wasnít hurt. Though they were only fifth in that SP, they were still able to advance to take the gold overall.

The first to do this move are former US champions, Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, who executed this spectacular move in the 2006 Olympic Games. However, like Savchenko, Inoue took some very bad falls on the move. On Wednesday, the German team doctor, Stefan Pfrengle, said, "She further hurt herself in practice this morning and is in pain and unable to perform all elements. We will continue intense physiotherapy and I expect her to be able to get back on the ice and possibly resume training in five to seven days."

Their next competition is the world championship at the end of March in Nice, although they are also scheduled to give exhibitions in Zurich next week. Their career long coach, Ingo Steuer, who won silver in the European championship in 1993,1996 & 1997, said, "It was a very difficult decision for us. We came to the European Championships with high expectations but the risk is too high to aggravate the injury further. Alionaís idea to try the move. Both she and Robin were very disappointed with winning only the Olympic bronze in 2006. They want gold and to do that, it will be necessary for them to show some new moves because you have youngsters coming up all the time. They improve so you canít afford not to try also to improve."

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