Savchenko, Szolkowy slither to victory in Paris
Germans crush field by 15 points; Russians distant second
|Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy captured the gold medal with 14.88-points to spare. (Getty Images)|
(11/27/2010) - What a difference a year makes. Last season at this event, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy struggled to finish a heavy-handed program to the majestic "You'll Never Walk Alone," placing fourth in the free and barely making the podium. This time around, the German Olympic bronze medalists had a relaxed and confident performance to light-hearted music from The Pink Panther, hitting all of their difficult elements -- including a huge opening throw triple flip; two triple toe loops done in sequence; an incredibly flexible pair spin; and closing throw triple Salchow -- with smiles on their faces. Savchenko and Szolkowy elected not to include double Axels in their free, settling for double Salchows. Their only notable flaw was her slight stumble exiting a triple twist, earned 131.23 points, just under the mark they set winning Skate America last month. They finished with 197.88, more than 15 points ahead of the field. Russian bronze medalists Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov had a solid skate to selections from The Gladiator, highlighted by several incredible lifts and a huge triple twist. Although Bazarova fell on the landing of a throw triple flip, they set a new season best 118.82 and won silver with 183 points. Both the Germans and the Russians have qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Beijing next month. Another German team, Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende, won their first Grand Prix medal, a bronze, with a free skate to Prince of Persia notable for the high quality of many of their positions and elements, including their spins and pair spiral. They, too, set a new season best, 103.40. Felicia Zhang and Taylor Toth, who previously competed at Nebelhorn Trophy and Skate America, earned a season best 86.55 to Miss Saigon, including side-by-side triple toe, double toe combinations and a strong opening lift. They finished fifth with 127.48 points.