Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have established a magical partnership on the ice over the last four years, and they are now ready to restore Russian glory in the Olympic figure-skating pairs, a title dominated by their compatriots from 1964 to 2006. The Dnepropetrovsk-born Volosozhar previously defended the colours of Ukraine, in tandem with Stanislav Morozov. They competed in two Winter Games together, finishing 12th at Turin 2006 and eighth at Vancouver 2010, after which Morozov decided to hang up his skates. For his part, Trankov, a St. Petersburg native, used to skate with Maria Mukhortova, with whom he had become world junior champion in 2005, and finished second and seventh respectively at the 2008 European Figure Skating Championships and Vancouver 2010.
With Volosozhar on the lookout for a new partner and Trankov having long admired her grace and poise from afar, they decided to join forces and began training together in May 2010. Achieving wonderful chemistry in next to no time, they were crowned Russian champions at the end of that year. Their international debut was put on hold until 2011, however, as Volosozhar was forced to wait a year for the right to represent Russia, in accordance with International Skating Union (ISU) regulations.
Rise to prominence
The couple finally appeared on the global stage at the ISU World Championships in Moscow in March 2011, earning a laudable second place in the free skate event behind the German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. “We weren’t even thinking about the silver medal,” said Volosozhar at the time. “We thought, maybe we can get the bronze. The result was completely unexpected for us. The most impressive moment of the championships was how enthusiastic the spectators were even before our short programme, and I’ll never forget the standing ovation they gave us after the free programme.” Subsequently, Stanislav Morozov, her ex-partner and Trankov’s former rival, was appointed assistant coach, thereby enhancing an already formidable team, led by the experienced Nina Mozer.
“The only pressure we feel is the kind we put on each other – we push each other every day,” explains Trankov. They continued to challenge for major titles, landing another silver medal at the 2012 Worlds in Nice, then going one better the following year in London (CAN). In addition, the duo won two European Championships (2012 and 2013) and the final of the ISU Grand Prix in Sochi, and set new world record points totals – 83.05 in the short programme and 154.66 in the free skate, for a combined total of 237.71 – on 20 October 2013 during the Skate America gathering in Detroit.
Doing it for Russia
The pairs Olympic gold was won by couples from the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1988, the Unified Team in 1992 and then Russia from 1994 to 2006, but at Vancouver 2010, it was the turn of the Chinese to dominate, as Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo emerged victorious to overcome compatriots, Pang Qing and Tong Jian, and German duo Savchenko and Szolkowy.
As Volosozhar points out, this gap in the host nation’s roll of honour could work in their favour: “It helps us, because our goal is to win for Russia.” With a new Olympic figure skating team event seeing the light of day in Sochi, could a double triumph be on the cards? Volosozhar and Trankov are scheduled to take part three days before the pairs competition, but their chances of success may come down to the potential participation of three-time Olympic medallist Yevgeny Plushenko. “We might not win team gold, but we can win a medal, for sure. If Yevgeny helps us, that would be even better,” explains Trankov.
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