Savchenko/Szolkowy repeat as World Champions
The 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships continued in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA, on Wednesday with the Pairs Free Skating.
Pairs, Free Skating
Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy of Germany cruised to the gold in the Pairs event with China’s Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang and Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov of Russia coming in second and third.
Overnight leaders Savchenko/Szolkowy had drawn to skate next to last in the final flight. They looked composed and ready when they took their opening pose. Skating to “Schindler’s List” and “Adagio”, the defending Champions nailed a beautiful triple toe-triple toe sequence right out of the gate followed by a high throw triple flip and a side by side triple Salchow. The Germans went on to produce difficult lifts, a triple twist and level-four spins and spiral and when they landed a throw triple Salchow on the last beat of their music, the crowd cheered loudly and rose for a standing ovation.
The only glitch in the otherwise flawless performance was Szolkowy’s fall in the footwork, but he went right back into the program as if nothing had happened. When they finished, the couple hugged each other for a long time. They knew that they did enough to take their second consecutive World title. Savchenko/Szolkowy earned 131.18 points (68.10 element score/64.08 program component score) and racked up a total score of 203.48, which was a new personal best score for them. “It was a perfect feeling to win a second time. Our skating was as good today as it was yesterday. Yes, we had a little mistake – I struggled with a step sequence, but in the end it was good enough”, Szolkowy commented. “I can’t say what happened. I just lost my weight (balance) somewhere. It was an easy fall, so it didn’t hurt, and it wasn’t a problem to get back to the program”, he added when asked about the fall. “Last year was our first time being World Champions. This season, it was hard again. We had to defend our European and World Championship.
It was hard to both get the first one and to defend. You can’t really compare the two things”, he explained.
Zhang/Zhang landed a throw triple Salchow and loop, a big triple twist, difficult spins, steps and spirals in their routine to “The Yellow River Piano Concerto”, but Dan Zhang struggled with the solo jumps. She stumbled on the back end of the double Axel-triple toeloop combination and doubled the Salchow. The Chinese scored 119.10 (62.58/57.52) and moved up from third to second to claim their third World silver medal with 186.52 points, edging out Kavaguti/Smirnov by just 0.13 points.
Kavaguti/Smirnov skated last out of the 20 teams in the final. The Russian went for a triple toe-triple toe sequence, but he doubled the second jump. They hit the next element, a triple twist, but then Kawaguchi took a hard fall on the throw quadruple Salchow. Nevertheless they went on without any further major mistakes and reeled off a Axel Lasso lift, a hand to hip lift, a toe Lasso lift, as well as a side by side double Axel and a throw triple loop. The European silver medalists from St. Petersburg were awarded a level four for their lifts and the spins and a level three for the footwork and the death spiral. Kavaguti/Smirnov picked up a new seasons best of 117.45 (59.81/58.64) points and collected a total of 186.39 points. They won their first World medal.
The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2009 continue Thursday with the Original Dance and the Men’s Free Skating. For more information, full entry lists and results please see: www.isu.org and http://www.isuworlds2009.com/.
photos Janos Schmidt