Kavaguti, Smirnov win first European pairs title
Savchenko, Szolkowy settle for silver
|Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov used a monster free skate score to propel them to gold. (Getty Images)|
"This is great for us," Kavaguti said. "We didn't expect it. The audience helped us through. They gave us energy."
The couple, who trailed three-time defending champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany by only .20 after the short program, had a total score of 213.15 points, a winning margin of 1.43. This was the first time that they had beaten the German couple.
Kavaguti and Smirnov skated to "Valse Sentimentale" by Tchaikovsky and "An der schönen blauen Donau" by Johann Strauss. They had positive Grades of Execution (GOEs) on all of the elements except for a bad landing on the side-by-side triple toe loops.
Savchenko and Szolkowy scored 137.60 points in the free skate, a personal best, but still placed second in the free skate. With 211.72 total points, they won the silver medal.
"We are a little bit disappointed as we came here to win," Savchenko said, "but the next competition (the Olympic Games) is the biggest and most important one."
Skating to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Out of Africa by John Barry, the German couple had positive GOEs on all but two elements. Savchenko two-footed the landing of the throw triple flip and doubled her side-by-side triple Salchow.
Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, who were third after the short program, maintained that position in the free skate with 128.49 points, just short of their personal best. Their total of 202.03 earned them the bronze medal.
"We didn't skate clean, so we didn't get high marks," Trankov said. "But we didn't think about scores during the program. We just wanted to give our best."
Skating to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Love Story by Francis Lai, the couple had a negative GOE on only one element when Mukhortova put both hands down on the landing of the throw triple loop.
Ukraine's Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov placed fourth in the free skate with 120.23 points, a personal best, even though Morozov had problems on the landings of all of his jumps. High scores on their lifts and throws kept them well ahead of the following teams. Their total of 187.83 points left them in the fourth position overall for the third straight year.
"We did quite well," Volosozhar said. "Stanislav went for each jump, which he doesn't always do. Yesterday I felt we were a little under-marked. The difference in points to the top three shouldn't have been so big."
The couple skated to selections from the motion picture soundtrack of Pearl Harbor by Hans Zimmer.
Russia's Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, the 2006-07 world junior pairs silver medalists, placed fifth overall with 159.84 points after scoring a personal-best 104.00 in the free skate, where they placed sixth, even though Bazarova fell on a side-by-side double Axel.
"For a debut, it wasn't too bad," Bazarova said. "I missed a jump (the double Axel)that I usually never miss."
The couple skated to music from the motion picture soundtracks of Seven Years in Tibet and Tale of Wandering, perhaps symbolizing the couple's two-year banishment from ISU competitions after Larionov failed a drug test.
Italy's Nicole Della Monica and Yannick Kocon placed fifth in the free skate with a personal best score of 104.16 and finished sixth overall with 156.80 points. They skated to music from the motion picture soundtrack of The Mission by Ennio Morricone.