2007 European Figure Skating Championships: Pairs Highlights

The 2007 European Figure Skating Championships were held Jan 23-27 in Warsaw at the Torwar Sport Hall. Approximately 128 skaters competed from 34 different countries. This was the first time Warsaw has hosted an ISU event since the 1908 European Championships.

The ISU awarded prize money totaling $350,000 to skaters and couples that placed first through 12th. In addition, the top three skaters and couples per discipline having earned the most World Standing points during the 2006-07 season, were awarded with a World Standings Bonus which totaled $450,000 US Dollars.

By competing at Europeans, the athletes earned points toward the World Standings for the 2006-07 season. Personal best scores were not taken into consideration (in terms of World Standings) as they only apply to Grand Prix competitions.

In the Pairs event, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won their first European title, while Russia’s Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov and Dorota Siudek and Mariusz Siudek of Poland won the silver and bronze, respectively.

Ekaterina Sosinova and Fedor Sokolov of Azerbaijan had to withdraw from the event. According to the ISU, based on a review of their documentation, the pair team did not meet the requirements of Rule 109 paragraph 2 (eligibility) and ISU Communication No. 1420.

Russia’s Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov were unable to compete at the event. Mukhortova injured her landing leg during a throw jump in practice, slicing her tendon with the skate blade of her free foot.

Sweden’s Angelika Pylkina and Niklas Hogner also withdrew due to Pylkina being ill.

Short Program

Savchenko (23) and Szolkowy (27) had a rough start in their Once Upon a Time routine when Savchenko fell on a throw triple flip, however, the team quickly recovered to execute solid side-by-side triple toeloops and a triple twist. The 2006 Grand Prix Final silver medalists also produced an excellent level four lift, two good level four spins, a very good level four spiral sequence, and a good backward-outside death spiral, earning a new personal best of 65.38 points for a first place finish.

“I opened too late and there was no chance of landing the throw,” explained Savchenko on the fall. “You want to skate well, but you don’t always succeed, it’s sport.”

“I don’t care about what placement we will get,” added Szolkowy. “At the moment I’m just frustrated because it did not work out. It was the first time that we did this mistake, or may be once in practice a week or two ago, but we have definitely been having errors on other elements more often. Tomorrow is another day, and we look forward to it.”

Performing to Sarabande by Handel, Petrova and Tikhonov opened with a lateral triple twist and side-by-side triple toeloops, but then Petrova stepped out of a throw triple loop. Nevertheless, the two-time and current World bronze medalists produced an excellent level four lift, two good level four spins, and a good spiral sequence, earning 62.22 points for a second place finish.

“I’m upset about the mistake,” said Petrova of the throw triple loop. “Maybe I was too relaxed. It’s too bad, because I usually do good throws.”

“We don’t care so much about the placements,” added Tikhonov, “but we care about our performance. This is our last season and we want to win here.”

D. Siudek (32) and M. Siudek (34) delivered an inspiring performance to music from the Polish movie soundtrack Nigdy w zyciu!, which included a throw triple loop, a very good triple twist and an excellent level four lift. However, Dorota stepped out of her jump on the side-by-side triple toeloops and the team lost unison during their side-by-side spins. Despite the mistakes, the husband-and-wife team placed third with 57.81 points.

“It’s like if the biggest dream came true now,” said Dorota, on skating in her home country. “It was really worth it to stay for one more year. I am satisfied [with our performance], but in training we did better. Our component score was very low. Tomorrow, we want to do a perfect program.”

“This was our best program in this season,” added Mariusz. “We didn’t make any major mistakes, only the step out of the landing of the toeloop. We were very nervous today. We did not want to disappoint the audience, but the support started the moment we stepped onto the ice. It was great.”

Obertas and Slavnov produced a solid throw triple loop, a very good level four lift, and good side-by-side spins, but Obertas stepped out her jump on the side-by-side triple toeloops and the catch on the triple twist was badly flawed. The two-time and current Russian National silver placed fourth with 57.04 points.

“Tomorrow we’re not just going out to win a medal,” said Obertas.”We have prepared as usual for this event and we’re calmer now.”

Slavnov added: “Of course we’ll fight for a medal. That is what we’re here for.”

Tatiana Volosozhar (20) and Stanislav Morozov (28) of Ukraine produced an excellent triple twist and a difficult lift, however, Volosozhar put her hand down on a throw triple loop, and Morozov stepped out of his jump in the side-by-side triple toeloops. The 2007 Winter Universiade Torino silver medalists earned 53.62 points for their routine to Adagio by Albinoni for a fifth place finish.

“We’ve skated better in the short program at the Universiade (in Torino),” said Volosozhar. She added that due to her leg injury, she was unable to skate for three weeks. “Then I could only practice for 15-20 minutes. Overall, I think I lost a month of training. The leg is fine now.”

Mari Vartmann and Florian Just of Germany were sixth (47.19), followed by Russia’s Elena Efaieva and Alexei Menshikov (45.86 points).

Long Program

Skating to music from The Mission soundtrack, overnight leaders Savchenko and Szolkowy opened with an excellent throw triple flip, a very good side-by-side triple toeloop-triple toeloop sequence, and a triple twist. The reigning European silver medalists also executed side-by-side double Axels, an excellent level three spiral sequence and throw triple Salchow, three very good level four lifts, a good level three straight line footwork sequence and death spiral, and two very good level four spins. The German National Champions earned a new personal best of 134.01 points for a first place finish in the long and overall (199.39 points).

“I just wanted to do the same I can do in practice,” said Savchenko. “I focused on each element, and my goal was to land every single one. I’m very happy that everything worked out as well as it did. We set a goal for ourselves and everything worked out.”

“[The performance] was strong,” added Szolkowy. “It was hard, but it was fun. With each element we did, we started to smile more. At the end, we just felt overwhelming joy. The last two elements were difficult to do for me, because I was so excited. It was the best program we’ve done in our career so far. We don’t want to do extraordinary performances, just what we do in practice. We’re happy that we had so much fun and the audience was so nice to us.”

The German team was the first to win the title at a European Championship since 1995, when Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer took the gold Dortmund, Germany. By winning the title, Savchenko and Szolkowy also broke the eleven-year winning streak for Russian pairs.

Petrova (29) and Tikhonov (35) opened their Moonlight Sonata routine with a good triple twist, but their by side-by-side triple toeloops and side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence had shaky landings and the side-by-side spins were out of synch. Nevertheless, the four-time and reigning European bronze medalists also produced an excellent throw triple loop, three good lifts, and a very good throw triple Salchow to place second in the long (117.39 points) and overall (179.61 points).

“Our performance today was quite good,” said Petrova. “We didn’t cope with everything as well as we could have. After two weeks of hard work and preparation we weren’t recovered enough, but we did well.” “The audience actually made us to concentrate even more on our performance,” added Tikhonov.

“It was hard because it’s the Europeans and it’s always a big pressure in your mind,” admitted Tikhonov. “We are happy with the way we skated. The audience actually made us to concentrate even more on our performance.”

“We were almost dead,” he continued. “it was really hard tonight. Masha helped me through the program. We tried to make it to the end because you have to skate and be strong to the end. We tried to keep presenting the story because if there is no ending, then there is no story.”

“It was [also] nice to see that our friends and competitors (the Siudeks) are loved so much and were received so well, because we have the same in Russia, they love us there, too,” said Maria.

When asked about being ‘old’, Tikhonov replied: “Figure skating made me younger for so many years. It’s totally different from when you are 26 or 27-years-old, really totally different.”

Siudek and Siudek, who were in fourth after the short, opened their long with a side-by-side double Axel-double toeloop sequence and a very good triple throw loop, however, Dorota doubled her jump on the side-by-side triple toeloops. The 2006 Skate America silver medalists also lost unison later in their side-by-side spins, but otherwise produced a very good throw triple twist, a solid throw triple Salchow, and three very good lifts in their routine to selections by Chopin, earning a score of 113.10 for a third place finish in the long and overall (170.91).

“We made one mistake, but it was better than last night,” said Mariusz. “The crowd gave us more energy. Skating here was wonderful. Before we [took] the ice, our coach said, ‘Skate for yourselves’. We did it, but we also skated for the great audience. The best audience is usually in North America, but today the audience here was equally great.”

“I’m very happy that we won the medal here in Warsaw,” said Dorota. “The crowd was just great and skating here in front of them and for them was amazing.”

Mariusz agreed. “Our dream came true to compete here at Europeans in Warsaw and to win a medal. We were pleased to skate in from of such an audience.

“We were ready to finish our career this year,” revealed Mariusz. “Tokyo will just be a saying ‘good-bye’ to fans. Our dream was to skate here and win a medal at home. Each of our medals is important for us and each one has its place, but this one is the most precious and it will have a honorable place in our home.”

Mariusz added that their future plan was to open a skating school in Poland and work with teenagers. “Most of all, we would like to coach pairs and lead them to medals.”

Volosozhar and Morozov had a difficult start in their Phantom of the Opera on Ice routine when Morozov stepped out of both jumps on a side-by-side triple toeloop-triple toeloop sequence. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian Champions went on to produce an excellent triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchows (discounted – third individual jumping pass), three difficult lifts, and a solid throw triple Salchow and throw triple loop. They placed fourth in the long with a new personal best of 101.73 points and fifth overall (155.35 points).

Obertas (22) and Slavnov (24) had a shaky start when Obertas doubled her side-by-side jump on a triple toeloop (in combination with a double toeloop). The team recovered to produce a triple twist, but then Obertas singled her jump on the side-by-side double Axels and later fell on a throw triple loop. The last lift was also very shaky. Despite the mistakes, the 2006 Trophee Eric Bompardee Eric Bompard bronze medalists produced two good lifts, a good forward-inside death spiral, and a throw triple flip to place fifth in the long (99.92 points) and fourth overall (156.96 points).

“Julia just have up,” said Velikova, their coach. “They are very upset because they were well prepared. We’ve worked a lot on the solo jumps. It would have been better to risk it and to fall [than doubling or singling].”

Efaieva (17) and Menshikov (22) showed good attack in their routine to Scorchio by Bond, but Efaieva put her hand down on a throw triple loop, underrotated and fell on the second jump of a side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence, and touched down with her free foot on a throw triple Salchow. The current Russian National bronze medalists, who also lost unison during their side-by-side spins, placed sixth in the long with 95.19 points (personal best) and overall (141.05 points).

Vartmann (18) and Just (24), who were sixth after the short, placed ninth in the long (85.57 points) and seventh overall (132.76). The team topped their personal best scores in both the short and long programs.

France’s Marylin Pla and Yannick Bonheur, who stood in 12th after the short, placed seventh in the long (88.16 points) and eighth overall (130.67 points).

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