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Mukhortova, Trankov win pairs short at Euros

Fall drops Savchenko and Szolkowy into second

Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov won the pairs short program in Helsinki.
Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov won the pairs short program in Helsinki. (Michelle Harvath)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/20/2009) - Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, who performed to "Nobody Home" by Pink Floyd, won the short program at the 2009 European Championships with 69.62 points, a season best.

Skating last, the 2008 European silver medalists landed side-by-side triple toe loops, a throw triple loop, and a triple Lutz twist lift, without a negative Grade of Execution (GOE) on their scorecard.

"I think this was our best performance of the short program," Mukhortova stated. "We really feel this program, and it is close to our heart and soul."

"This is the second time we beat them in the short program, but it's not about beating Aliona and Robin, it's about competing with ourselves and doing our best," Trankov said.

Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the two-time defending European pairs champions, placed second in the short program with 66.64 points after Szolkowy fell hard on their side-by-side triple toe loops in their Lost in Space program.

"The whole program I had the mistake in my head," Szolkowy said. "It hurt and I will be even more sore tomorrow. I felt in the air that the jump would be a little off but I didn't expect to fall."

They completed a throw triple flip and a triple Lutz twist lift.

The Russian team of Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov, who were third at Europeans last season, were third in the short, scoring a season best 65.38 points skating to Camille Saint-Saens' "The Swan."

The couple completed side-by-side triple toe loops and a throw triple loop, but had a little difficulty with the landing of the triple Lutz twist lift.

"We made little mistakes but we are happy," Kawaguchi said.

Ukrainne's Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov placed fourth in the short program skating to music from the motion picture Mr. Holland's Opus.

They earned only 56.20 points, well below their season best after Morozov stepped out of the side-by-side triple toe loops and they singled their planned throw triple loop.

"This was very unexpected," Moroozov said. "We've skated this program four or five times very clean. Our skates just got stuck."

A very high triple Lutz twist lift was the highlight of their program.

Promising Russian newcomers Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, who won the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final last month, had a successful debut.

Skating to "Prologue" by Lorena McKennitt, the duo scored 52.42 points to place fifth. They landed a throw triple loop, but only did a double twist and Iliushechkina fell on their side-by-side triple toe loops.

"We came to compete against higher-ranking rivals," Masiuradze said. "We don't expect to win medals," Iliushechkina added.

Great Britain's Stacey Kemp and David King were sixth, their best start at the Europeans.