Wounded Savchenko and Szolkowy in tough spot

Not skating in Sheffield could mean financial loss or one-year ban

Just a month ago, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy triumphed at the Grand Prix Final.
Just a month ago, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy triumphed at the Grand Prix Final. (Getty Images)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(01/24/2012) - World pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany still don't know whether they will compete in the short program at the 2012 European Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield.

Savchenko, who suffered a left upper thigh injury a little over a week ago, skated gingerly at the first official practice. Although she managed a few jumps, she did no throws, lifts or spins.

"It is hard, and I do not know yet if we can skate," Savchenko said. "My left upper thigh still hurts. I cannot go down even for a spin.

"If it does not work tomorrow, maybe we cannot skate or we will skate our program with a reduced level of difficulty. We will do another practice tonight and tomorrow morning and maybe decide only after the six-minute warmup."

Financial matters may be impacting the decision. The pair is scheduled to perform in Art on Ice shows in Switzerland next month, and if they do so after a withdrawal in Sheffield, they could be banned from ISU competitions for one year.

"I asked the ISU, 'If we have to withdraw here, are we not allowed to do the shows in Switzerland?'" said Ingo Steuer, the team's coach. "However, I do not think of the money."

While Steuer might prefer not to make a decision based on financial need, it is well-known that his skaters need to perform in as many shows as possible, because Steuer does not receive any funds from the German skating federation due to his distant past as an East German Stasi operative.

"No matter what, they will not skate unless they can do all of their elements," Steuer said, contradicting Savchenko.

At this point, it is still a waiting game.

Korobeynikova tops in ladies' qualifying

Some 23 European ladies entered the qualifying round, with the top 10 gaining entrance into the main draw.

Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Polina Korobeynikova won in impressive fashion, landing seven clean triple jumps, including a triple-triple combination and double Axel-triple toe. Sweden's current silver medalist Joshi Helgesson was second and Monika Simancikova of Slovakia third.