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Russians run past Germans in Euro pairs short

Volosozhar, Trankov deliver as Trankov grieves loss of father

Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov carry a 3.02-point lead into the free skate.
Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov carry a 3.02-point lead into the free skate. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(01/23/2013) - After a near-flawless short program to music from The Godfather, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia took a three-point lead over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy at the European Figure Skating Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.

The Russians, who are competing despite the death of Trankov's father earlier this week, executed a brilliant triple twist and triple throw loop, gaining several +3 grades of execution (GOEs) from the judging panel. Four other elements, including the side-by-side triple Salchows, were solid.

The only flaw came in the second part of the Russians' death spiral. After the hand change, there was only half a turn, which is too short. Therefore, they gained only Level 1. However, their components reached an average level of 8.9, and they earned 73.23 points.

Due to the death of Trankov's father's, the couple did not want to comment after their performance.

"I am happy. Overall, it was a good skate today," the team's coach, Nina Mozer, said. "They were very well prepared for this championship, but, of course, after the death of Maxim's father, they are not quite in the right state of mind. But, Maxim is a man and he is strong, and he decided to compete."

Savchenko and Szolkowy, who have won Europeans and worlds four times each, skated to "Kismet" by Bond and did not make any major mistakes. However, their elements were less spectacular than the Russians', and they gained only a Level 2 for their step sequence, which earned Level 4 in previous competitions. It cost them two points.

"Because of our late arrival (due to weather delays), we did not have the chance to train in the main rink at all," Szolkowy said. "This was a disadvantage for us because it is a different feeling to know the rink before. You feel more comfortable and you have a better orientation, which affects the presentation."

Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek are third with 64.28 points. They, too, skated a clean program, highlighted by superb side-by-side triple toe loops landed in perfect unison.

"We are ecstatic about our performance," Hotarek said. "It was the first time for us to come to a competition completely ready. We were lucky to have come by car from Milan in about five hours, and not by plane, because of the many delays and cancellations."

French champions Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès sit in fourth position with 59.27 points. Their triple twist was shaky and poorly landed, but all of their other elements were clean.

"When we started, we were a bit nervous, and therefore the twist was almost too high," James said. "But, we continued to skate well after the mistake, so we are really pleased.

"We have improved since last season because we practice something until it works well. Before, we let things pass and moved on to the next thing. We have changed our whole way of thinking."

Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are fifth with 56.20 points after making three major mistakes: Smirnov fell on the triple toe loop, Kavaguti stepped out of the throw triple loop, and they almost fell at the end of the death spiral.

"It was a disaster," their coach, Tamara Moskvina, said.

Mari Vartmann and Aaron Van Cleave of Germany skated a clean program and sit sixth with 55.14 points.

The third Russian couple, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov -- who came as last-minute substitutes for the injured Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov -- made serious mistakes on the triple throw flip and the triple toe loop and are eighth with 53.70 points.