Savchenko, Szolkowy win convincingly in Canada

German pair sets world record with perfect 10

Aliona Savchenko and Robi Szolkowy won pairs gold in Canada.
Aliona Savchenko and Robi Szolkowy won pairs gold in Canada. (Paul Harvath)


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By J. Barry Mittan, special to
(11/21/2009) - Reigning world pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who led after the short program, won the free skate with a season best score of 132.55 points to take the gold medal with a total score of 206.71, besting the previous world record of 206.54 points held by China's Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao.

Their total score exceeded their previous personal best of 203.48 when they won the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships. Even more impressive, the team scored the first 10 ever given by a judge under the Code of Points for Performance/Execution.

"I was proud that they got the first ten in the new system, but they can do more," said coach Ingo Steuer. "I want them to get more tens."

The German couple changed their long program after a poor showing at Trophee Eric Bompard in October.

"The old program works only in practice," Steuer said. "After Paris, I got a bad feeling about it and had the idea to change it on the plane to Chemnitz. We had nothing to lose."

Savchenko and Szolkowy skated to music from the motion picture soundtrack Out of Africa by John Barry, followed by a standing ovation from the audience.

"It was very nice to skate this program with only one mistake," Savchenko said. "We're pleased that it came across so well. We wanted to tell the story of forbidden love and the music and the choreography go together well to bring it across to the audience."

They completed throw triple flip and triple Salchow, a side-by-side triple toe-triple toe sequence, two Group 5 lifts and a triple Lutz twist lift. But Szolkowy singled the double Axel in their side-by-side double Axels.

"We added extra training sessions after Paris to prepare our new free program," Szolkowy said. "When mistakes happen, you just have to know what you have to change and work on it, then go on to the next competition."

Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, who were second in the short program, earned 119.91 points in the long to place second in the segment and overall with 185.71 points, below their season bests.

"Today, we were relaxed and sure in our power," Trankov said. "We skated clean except for a small mistake on the parallel spin." Skating to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Love Story, the Russians completed a triple Lutz twist lift, throw triple loop and triple Salchow, and two Group 5 lifts. They landed side-by-side double Axels and a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination but received a two-point deduction when they had to stop when a strap on Trankov's pants came undone.

"The strap broke on my double Axel, but I didn't feel it until later," Trankov said. "I thought I could continue but the referee told me to stop, even though I didn't want to."

Both the German and Russian couples qualified to skate in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo, Japan in December.

Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, who were in third after the short, were also third in the free skate by scoring 109.93 points. They finished with 166.93 points to win the bronze medal and are first alternates for the Final.

Skating to The Way We Were, the Canadians made several errors as Davison singled the first double Axel in the planned side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence. Dube then stumbled on the landing of the side-by-side triple Salchows and put her hands down on the landing of the throw triple loop. The couple also received no points after they fell out of their ending pair combination spin.

"We felt our long was artistically better than in Paris, but technically we left a lot of points on the table," Davison said. "We don't even know what happened on the pairs spin. It just kind of imploded."

"We'll just go home now, work hard and get ready for Nationals," Dube said.

Canada's Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay placed fourth in the long program with 104.43 points while skating to "Grand Canyon Suite." Their total score of 159.95 points left them in fourth overall.

The couple landed throw triple Salchow and triple Lutz but Langlois two footed the landing of the second throw jump. They also completed a side-by-side triple toe-double toe combination and triple Salchows although Langlois had to fight for the landings on each.

U.S. pairs champions Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, skating to "Scheherazade," scored a season best 101.63 points to finish fifth in the long. With 157.09 total points, they placed fifth overall.