Volosozhar and Trankov not happy despite lead

Germans abandon throw triple Axel, then falter on throw flip

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were displeased with some of their levels.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were displeased with some of their levels. (AFP)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(12/09/2011) - Maxim Trankov slumped at the press conference, looking much, much crankier than the average skater who had just beaten the world champions in a short program.

Sure, he and partner Tatiana Volosozhar led the pairs competition at the 2011 Grand Prix Final by 1.75 points. Skating to Evanescence's "Bring Me Back to Life," they hit a gasp-inducing triple twist, sterling side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple flip that sailed across the ice. But that same twist, and a closing combination spin, rated just Level 1, and he didn't know why.

"We are not happy about this," Trankov said. "We are very happy -- we have very good scores, it [is good] for our confidence -- but we don't know why we lose levels.

"The [technical specialist] gives us Level 1 pair spin, and I don't know how this is possible. I don't know what features you do for Level 1. Our twist is only Level 1. Our death spiral is Level 3, and I was very concentrated and I checked the revolutions. We have to ask the Russian judges why this happened. We can't lose so many points in our next competition."

Trankov should cheer up; even with the lower levels, he and Volosozhar defeated three-time world pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany on both technical elements and program components, and the Germans weren't half bad.

Maybe Saturday will bring better things.

"Of course, we will fight for everything in our free program," he said. "And I hope tomorrow we have only Level 4s."

Savchenko and Szolkowy -- usually no bundles of joy themselves -- were positively radiant compared to Trankov.

For several days, they debated whether to try a throw triple Axel, the move that gave them fits in two earlier competitions this season, but decided to stick with their reliable throw triple flip. Except today, it didn't look too reliable when Savchenko two-footed and stepped out of the landing.

"Our skating today was, let's say, a little bit better than our last programs," Szolkowy said. "We improve step by step for every competition.

"We had a small mistake in the throw. I think it happened because [the throw] was too good; it was a little bit too high. Maybe it would be better to do this for a quad, not a triple."

The faulty landing was the Germans' only mistake, and they earned 69.82 points for their short to Hans Zimmer's Angels and Demons.

As expected, the top two teams separated themselves from the rest of the field. China's Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang sit third, some 6.39 points behind the Germans.

The three-time world silver medalists, who also won Olympic silver in 2006, are making a successful return to competition after missing last season due to Hao Zhang's wrist and shoulder injuries. They opened with a huge throw triple loop, followed by a big triple twist, excellent triple toes and a solid lift, but their program components lagged behind those of the top two teams.

"I know we had some small mistake [a rough catch] on the twist lift, but generally we are very satisfied and happy with today's performance," Dan Zhang said.

Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are fourth with 61.37 points, 2.06 out of bronze-medal position. The Russians lost ground when Kavaguti doubled an intended triple toe.

Two teams who train in Quebec under Richard Gauthier and Bruno Marcotte -- Canadian silver medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran -- had trouble with their side-by-side triple Salchows, but otherwise skated well. They sit fifth and sixth, respectively.