Savchenko, Szolkowy dominate pairs at Nebelhorn

Castile, Okolski end competition in fourth

Despite some hitches in their free skate, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy came away with gold.
Despite some hitches in their free skate, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy came away with gold. (Getty Images)


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By J. Barry Mittan, special to
(09/25/2009) - Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won their fourth gold medal at the 2009 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, further cementing their position as number one in the world rankings.

All of the pairs in the final flight had significant errors in their programs, but the Germans' strength overall kept them on top.

The two-time world pairs champions fought through their free program to "You'll Never Walk Alone," scoring 113.19 points in the long and 185.99 overall to win the competition by a margin of 20.24 points.

Szolkowy doubled the first jump and Savchenko doubled the second jump in their opening side-by-side triple toe sequence, and Savchenko landed awkwardly on the throw triple flip. Their side-by-side triple Salchows were also doubled.

"In the back of our minds, we knew we had to win this competition," Szolkowy said. "It was a test for us. Now we know what we have to work on."

Ukraine's Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov took the silver medal by placing second in the free skate with 106.29 points and scoring 165.75 points overall.

They skated to music from the motion picture soundtrack Pearl Harbor by Hans Zimmer, the same as last season.

The program started poorly as Morozov fell on their opening side-by-side triple toe-triple toe sequence, and Volosozhar fell on the side-by-side triple Salchows.

"Some things worked and some did not," Morozov said. "It was better than we did here last year.

Canada's Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay skated to "Grand Canyon Suite" and scored 98.13 points for fifth in the free skate and third overall with 155.61 points.

Langlois fell on their opening side-by-side triple Salchows and the throw triple Lutz, singled the second jump in their triple toe-triple toe combination and lost speed on the side-by-side spins.

"It was our first competition in 18 months since Anabelle broke her ankle," Hay said. "We felt nervous but our goal is to build on each experience."

"It felt good to be out there, but I have a lot of work to do on my jumps," Langlois admitted.

U. S. pairs skaters Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski finished third in the long program with 100.25 points. The couple, who were fourth in the short program, earned 151.95 total points to finish fourth overall.

The Americans skated to Debussy's "Claire de Lune."

Castile fell on the first double Axel in their side-by-side sequence and the throw triple flip. The couple also had problems with their last lift.

Anais Dorand and Antoine Dorsaz of Switzerland made their Olympic dreams come true by placing fourth in the free skate with 100.17 points and fifth overall with 151.49, both personal bests.

Skating to Ennio Morricone's motion picture soundtrack of Once Upon a Time in America, the Swiss couple had the cleanest program in the top five although they had a negative GOE on their throw triple Lutz and one spin late in the program.

Russia's Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh, seventh in the short, withdrew before the free skate because Bezmaternikh had sprained his right hand when he hit it against the boards during the couple's side-by-side triple Salchows in the short program.

In addition to Switzerland, countries winning spots at the Olympic Games included Estonia, Italy, and Poland.