Savchenko, Szolkowy win European pairs title

Russians take silver and bronze

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy proved again why they're the world's best pairs team.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy proved again why they're the world's best pairs team. (Getty Images)


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By J. Barry Mittan, special to
(01/21/2009) - Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who were in second after the short program, won the gold medal in pairs at the 2009 European Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

It was the third straight victory at Europeans for the pair, who scored 199.07 total points.

Their 132.32 points in the free program, skating to the motion picture soundtrack Schindler's List and Albinoni's "Adagio," was a season best as it was for the top five couples.

The couple completed a triple toe loop-triple toe loop sequence at the start of the program and a nice triple twist, but Szolkowy doubled his planned triple Salchow on their next side-by-side jumps, their only error.

They also did a throw triple flip and ended with a throw triple Salchow.

"We wanted to attack today and we did that," Szolkowy said. "I was sorry I doubled the Salchow. I was maybe too focused and wanted it too much."

Russia's Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov, who skated to Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci," jumped from third in the short to win the silver medal with 182.77 points, only .70 ahead of third place.

They had a score of 117.39 points in the free program but were marked down on their first three elements.

On the opening side-by-side triple toe loop-triple toe loop sequence, Kawaguchi was leaning forward on the second jump, then they under-rotated the triple Lutz twist lift. She landed the throw quadruple Salchow but it was two-footed.

"That's just what I told Yuko," Smirnov said. "We'll move up one spot each year so it will be even better next year. Once again she landed the quad Salchow and soon it will be on one foot."

Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, who led after the short program, finished with the bronze medal with a total of 182.07 points.

Skating to Shostakovich's "The Lady and the Hooligan," they had 112.45 points in the free skate to place fourth in the segment.

Mukhortova popped the second jump in their triple toe-double toe combination, then stumbled out of her side-by-side triple Salchow and fell on the throw triple Salchow.

The 2008 silver medalists landed a triple Lutz twist lift and throw triple loop and had Level 4s on their lifts.

"It was a big pressure for us because we were first after the short program," Trankov said. "We had to fight for each element right from the beginning."

Ukraine's Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov scored 115.14 points in the free skate while skating to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Pearl Harbor.

They were third in the free program and fourth overall with 171.34 points.

Volosozhar two-footed in their opening triple toe-double toe sequence, and then doubled a planned side-by-side triple Salchow. The pair completed a throw triple loop, a throw triple Salchow, and a triple Lutz twist lift.

"In general, we are satisfied with our performance," Volosozhar said. "I'm a bit sorry for the jumps, usually I never do that."

Russians Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, skating to a selection of music by Edvin Marton, scored 95.42 points to finish fifth in the long program. Their total of 147.84 points placed them fifth overall in their first European Championships.

Iliushechkina missed the second jump in their planned triple toe-double toe sequence, then missed her side-by-side double Axel and fell on the throw triple Lutz.

A nice double Lutz twist lift, throw triple loop and excellent lifts improved their score.

"It is just crazy to miss elements like that," Maisuradze said. "But the mistakes are only on Lubov's jumps, otherwise we do most of the elements more or less cleanly. We can fight on the highest level."

Italy's Nicole Della Monica and Yannick Kocon placed sixth in the free and overall with 89.83 and 135.33 points respectively.

They landed a solid throw triple flip and throw triple Salchow and a double flip-double toe loop combination in their program to Ennio Morricone's The Mission.