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Volosozhar, Trankov lead Russian pairs sweep

Bazarova and Larionov, Stolbova and Klimov win silver, bronze

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won their first European title together.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won their first European title together. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(01/26/2012) - As expected, the withdrawal of German world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy because of Savchenko's left thigh injury set the stage for Russian pairs to sweep the medals at the 2012 European Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield, England.

World silver medalists Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who placed second to the Germans at December's Grand Prix Final, earned 210.45 points. Skating to the Black Swan soundtrack, most of their elements were brilliant, especially the triple twist and throws, but they had small wobbles on the pairs spin and one lift.

"We did quite a few mistakes," Trankov said. "This was our first complete run-through of the free program following the Grand Prix Final. We are basically pleased with ourselves.

"Physically, we pushed through quite well, but the elements were a little messy; we didn't finish some moves. We didn't chase after a season's best; we just went out to enjoy skating, to show the choreography of the program."

Both Volosozhar, who suffers from ill-defined muscle injuries to her leg, and Trankov, who has a groin problem, had to fight to make it through Europeans. Weeks earlier, the pair withdrew from the Russian championships.

"Tatiana is still recovering from injury. It is hard on the body and for her as she constantly skates through the pain, sometimes more, sometimes less," Trankov said. "My groin injury seems healed, I hope. I think pair skating should not be so technical but go more in the direction of art.

"We do not plan dangerous new throws like [the throw triple Axel] Aliona and Robin try to do, because I feel a strong responsibility for my partner and do not want to ruin her health."

Savchenko was injured two weeks ago training the throw triple Axel.

Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov won the silver medal with 193.79 points. They both stepped out of the second double Axel in their sequence but otherwise skated in an elegant, though not fascinating, style to the soundtrack of Doctor Zhivago.

"We are extremely happy," Bazarova said. "We gave everything we had. It was a little hard to skate last, as we had to wait so long and it was already late in the evening. We had practice in the morning and waited all day."

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, who arrived in Sheffield as substitutes for Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov (who withdrew due to Smirnov's appendix surgery) won the bronze medal with 171.81 points. Although their individual jumps were shaky, their other elements were solid.

"In general, we are quite pleased with our skate," Klimov said. "The jumps were a bit of a problem. It is our first big international senior competition so we are very happy, and we did not feel any pressure. Of course, we are very happy to have a medal."

The Italian team of Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek, who is of Czech origin, had hoped for a bronze medal but instead placed fourth with 158.99 points after they had problems with their individual jumps.

"It was the maximum I could have done and was the hardest program I've ever done," Hotarek said. "This performance was a good achievement. Skating first in the last group was good -- I think it helped us. I had a muscle inflammation due to over-training, so we could not train for two weeks and just got back to training five days before the championships."