by Alexandra Stevenson
(23 January 2013)
1.73.23 (37.60+35.63) Tatiana Volosozhar, 26, & Maxim Trankov, 29, Russia, who are the defending champions, skated 13th of the 15 pairs from 11 countries to music from the “Godfather”. They opened with a triple twist which so dazzled the judges, that four of them punched in the maximum Grade of Execution, +3, and the other five gave +2. That meant 1.70 points were added to the element’s base value of 5.8.
The twice world championship runners-up executed fine side-by-side triple Salchows, although he showed slight tension with a landing edge that was a little steep. They received three +2s and the rest of the panel gave +1 for this element. Their throw triple loop was tremendous and received four +3s and five +2 GoEs. (In the warm-up, they had done only a double.)
However, their back outside death spiral was only Level 1 on a scale in which 4 is the maximum. However, the judging panel still voted to add 0.60 to its base value of 3.00. (The Technical Panel, which awards the levels consisted of Veronique Fleury and Alexander Koenig, controlled by Russia’s Alexander Lakernik. On the nine-member judging panel, which give the Grades of Execution, was former East German world champion Jan Hoffmann.)
V&T’s Group 4 lift was secure and received Level 4, with one +3, six +2s and one +1. Their Level 4 straight line steps received seven +2s and two +1s and their final element, the flying change foot combination spin, was rewarded with two +3s, five +2s and two +1s.
The component marks ranged from a high of one 9.75 and four 9.50s down to three 8.35s.
ISU officials excused them from the compulsory mixed zone availability to journalists after they had skated and from attending the later press conference. Their coach, Nina Mozer, said, “Overall, I am pleased. It was a good skate. We want a clean skate in the free program as well. They were very well prepared for the championships but, of course, after the death of Maxim’s father (on Sunday) they are not quite in the right state of mind.”
2.70.21 (36.20+34.01) Their leading rivals, Aliona Savchenko, 29, & Robin Szolkowy, 33, Germany, who are four time and current World Champions, didn’t qualify for the recent Grand Prix Final because illness kept them out of their second qualifier in Paris. They have been European title holders four times but had to withdraw before last year’s championship due to her injury.
When they won gold in Canadian Grand Prix earlier this season, they wore controversially tight one piece jump suits. Here, she wore black tight shorts, not a skirt, and a purple top to interpret their “Kismet” music by Bond. There was a requirement at one point that women must wear a skirt, and there was much agonizing over what comprised a skirt, and what the minimum dimensions must be, but this has now been relaxed. Men, however, must still wear trousers.
Skating first after the warm-up, Savchenko & Szolkowy opened with throw triple flips and side-by-side triple toe loop jumps. Both were rewarded with an extra +1.30 points. Their triple twist was Level 2. One of the nine judges thought it was worthy of the maximum +3 GoE.
Their back outside death spiral had enough feature to earn the maximum Level 4 but two of the nine judges thought it was merely done well enough for no points to be added or subtracted.
Their flying change foot combination jump was Level 4 with 0.50 extra. Their straight line steps were only Level 2 with +0.57 but their final element, their Group 4, lift inspired two of the nine judges to punch in the maximum +3 GoE. Four others gave +2, although three decided it was good enough only for +1.
Szolkowy said, “We are kind of satisfied. We did a mistake in our spin that never happens actually.” (It wasn’t serious enough to affect the Level, but two of the judges gave only 0, meaning no points were added or taken away.)
Szolkowy contined, “Because of our late arrival (due to weather closing Frankfurt and other airports), we didn’t have the chance to train here on the main rink. It is a different feeling if you know the rink before. You feel more comfortable and you have a better orientation. We’re only three points behind. That can be made up.”
3.64.28 (34.77+29.51) Stefania Berton, 22, & Ondrej Hotarek, 28, who represent Italy, placed fifth and fourth in the past two European championships. They skated well but were somewhat of an anticlimax, skating to “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones. They train with Franca Bianconi and American Jason Dungjen.
Hotarek said, “We are ecstatic about our performance. It was the first time for us to come to competition completely ready. We’ve had a great season so far because we were healthy.” His partner added, “We got the small medal for the short program for the first time and hopefully we’ll skate as good in the long program.” They are just under six points behind the Germans and 5.01 ahead of the French pair.
4.59.27 (31.06+28.31) Vanessa James, 25, & Morgan Cipres, 21, France, had unanimous -2s for their first element, the triple twist, in which there were problems with the catch. Nevertheless, James said, “We’re really happy with the skate. When we started, we were a little bit nervous so the twist was almost too high but we continued to skate well after that mistake so we’re really pleased. It’s good to start out that strong at Europeans.”
Cipres said, “We’ve changed a lot of things in the way that we work. We run the Free and the Short in full every day. We work a lot on my lifts because I need to progress more and Vanessa has worked on her jumps.” They performed to “Rhumba D’amour” and music from “Safri Duo”.
5.56.20 (28.28+28.92 -1) YukoKavaguti, 31, & Alexander Smirnov, 28, Russia, won this title in 2010 and were second in 2011, so their low placing is the shock of the event. Skating to Strauss’ “The Blue Danube”, she fell on her triple toe loop and had a problem with the landing of their throw triple loop. They also had trouble with their back outside death spiral. However, one kind judge gave them the maximum +3 for their final move, their straight line steps.
6.55.14 (28.28+28.92 -1) Mari Vartmann, 24, & Aaron van Cleave, 25, Germany, who were fifth last year, presented an interesting interpretation of “The Messiah Will Come Again” but their Levels were low. They executed only a Level 1 double twist and a Level 1 back outside death spiral. She explained, “We went into it with a positive mindset but we felt a lot of stress because we didn’t have much competition practice because of injuries. Physically, we are now fit, but mentally we are not in the best fighting shape.
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