Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China prevailed over Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy by 1.02 points to capture the Pairs Short Program at the 2011 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. The new Russian couple Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov finished third in what was a high-level competition. While the Chinese couple stood out because of their elegance, the Germans were very lively and the Russians powerful.
Pang and Tong looked very smooth in their lyrical program to The Pearlfishers and landed a triple toe, high throw triple Lutz, and throw triple loop. The defending World Champions posted a seasons best of 74.00 points.
“It went really well today,” Pang commented. “All the elements were well done. Today’s performance gives us confidence for the free skating tomorrow.”
“We are just happy that this competition takes place and that we were able to achieve a seasons best score,” added Tong. “Hopefully tomorrow we can skate a strong program and can land all our jumps.”
Skating to Korobushko, Russian folk music that was well received by the crowd in Moscow, Savchenko and Szolkowy produced their trademark big throw triple flip, a triple twist and triple toe. Like Pang and Tong, they earned a level four the lift, the spin and the death spiral and a level three for the footwork. The two-time World Champions scored 72.98 points.
“We did everything that we could do,” Savchenko said. “My parents are here to watch and we gave everything we have.”
“We can sleep well tonight, relax and then skate clean tomorrow,” Szolkowy offered. “Everything is still possible, but obviously you’re more relaxed when you have a little advantage (in points). It was a great program and we did all elements. We are really happy and I think you could see that.”
Volosozhar and Trankov’s dramatic performance to Carmina Burana by Carl Orff included arguably the highest triple twist of the event, a solid triple toe, and throw triple loop. The Russian Champions scored 70.35 points.
“We are pleasantly surprised. This is our first season together, with new coaches and a whole new team,” Volosozhar told the post-event press conference.
“For us, it is already amazing that we are Russian Champions,” Trankov explained. “We try not to think about winning. We just worked and try to feel better every day. We just try to skate for each other and I think it works for us.”
The Russian pairs were dominating with Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov and Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov coming in fourth and fifth, however, there is a considerable gap between them and the top three.
Bazarova and Larionov gave a strong performance to Secret Garden, and only Larionov’s triple toe was shaky.
“It was so nice to perform here in Moscow,” said Bazarova. “We felt how the audience supported us from the first moments of the warm-up until the end of the program. We will try to do the same in free skating.”
“It was nice, but it was more difficult to perform here because of the responsibility,” Larionov added.
Kavaguti and Smirnov skated last out of the 22 couples and after a triple toe, triple loop and triple twist, Smirnov slipped and fell at the beginning of the step sequence.
“I got carried away by the emotions in the program and I forgot to focus on my feet and so it was my fault,” Smirnov explained. “We were at our peak at the time for Worlds in Tokyo, and after the tragedy happened, our coach Tamara Moskvina tuned down the training a bit but then stepped it up again and now we were ready. Tonight we try to relax and we won’t rush to draw conclusions. Tomorrow we’ll fight.”
World Junior bronze medalists Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan were sixth. They landed a triple Salchow and throw triple toe in their sultry performance to Feeling Good.
“I’m satisfied with this performance,” said Takahashi. “It was the best we could have done. We achieved a seasons best, but we thought we could break the 60 points, so we were a little disappointed with the score. We would like to continue like this in the free skating.”
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada finished seventh. Duhamel broke her partner’s nose when she hit him with the elbow in the face on the triple twist. Although this was the first element and his nose started to bleed, the couple continued. Duhamel stepped out on a side by side triple Lutz while Radford landed it, and they pulled off a throw triple Lutz as well.
“I just opened up a little bit early on the (triple) twist – the goal is to do the catch with my arms over my head – and I elbowed him in the nose,” Duhamel explained about the mishap. “He sometimes gets a bloody nose at home (on the twist in practice) but not like that! After the twist I saw his face freeze and his eyes start to water, and I told him twice ‘It’s okay, we can still do the (triple) Lutz’. When we went into the lasso (lift), I said ‘Let’s stop’, but he just kept going and I thought ‘he doesn’t want to stop’. I’m so proud of Eric (for finishing the program).”
“If you could see a picture of my face right when it happened, I was very shocked and my nose hurt a lot,” Radford commented after his nose was reset by the Canadian team doctor. “I had tears in my eyes from the pain and the triple Lutz was coming up next. So going into that Lutz you could see in my face that I felt blind. My eyes were filled with tears and I was thinking should I stop or should I go and I just kind of magically did it. And what an adventure!”