I have to be honest with you: the Pairs Olympic Final left me emotionally drained. I shared the joy and the enthusiasm of Ksenia and Fedor at the end of their free program (this was definitely the performance of their lifetime), I was relieved that Tatiana and Maxim were able to handle the pressure and rise to the expectations of an entire nation – but I was torn apart knowing that Aliona and Robin had to do the impossible, in order to have the slightest chance to grasp the brightest medal of all. Skating last, it must have been unbelievably hard for the Germans to start their program with this particular thought on their minds – and their strategy was definitely “all or nothing”. In the end, it was the second Olympic bronze for the skaters coached by Ingo Steuer – and seeing Aliona on the podium, crying, her head in Robin’s palms, made my heart cringe; that much I wanted them to succeed. But, actually, they did succeed: the Germans ended their career literally on a higher note, showing the same artistry, strength and determination that made us love them in the first place. The figure skating world will lose a part of its charm with them stepping out of the competitive arena.
by Florentina Tone
A gold medal for Aliona and Robin would have been the perfect end to a wonderful skating career, the best way to say farewell to the skating world – not to mention that Ingo Steuer would have finally experienced the joy of an Olympic crown, through his students; he and Mandy Wötzel only managed to get the same Olympic bronze medal in Nagano, 16 years ago. But looking at the Russians’ scores – 152.69 points for the free and a total of 236.86 points – Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy knew they needed a miracle for the gold medal to actually happen. So they went for the throw triple Axel at the end of the routine– but though the Axel seemed fully rotated, Aliona couldn’t hold the landing; this and Robin’s fall in the middle of what should have been a combination of jumps dropped them on the third place. Like 4 years ago, in Vancouver, the Germans had to settle for bronze, leaving the first two podium placements in Sochi for the Russian pairs.
And if Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov managed to capture the gold with a good, but a little cautious routine, taking back the Olympic gold in the pairs’ event (Russia lost the gold in Vancouver-2010), the night actually belonged to the surprise winners of the silver medal, also trained by Nina Mozer: Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. What an edition of the Olympic Winter Games this has been for them: in the individual event, but also in the Team Event, Ksenia and Fedor have been sure, determined, not putting a foot wrong. As if the European silver – three weeks ago they won the free program in Budapest and were second in the end – brought to light an inner force, an inner strength that they didn’t even know they have. For me – and I’m sure, for many others – Ksenia and Fedor were the highlight of the Pairs Olympic event: a force to be reckoned with in the forthcoming years.
One final note: I wish there were more medals to be awarded in the Pairs’ event. I had surely given one to the Chinese Qing Pang and Jian Tong (I’m always impressed with their sensibility, with their finesse), but also to Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch. The Canadians were a joy to watch both in the short and the free – what a wonderful set of programs they showed in Sochi and what a glowing smile on Kirsten’s face. I need to say that: hats off to you, Kirsten and Dylan. You were absolutely great when it mattered the most: at the Olympics.