The perfect partner
Coming together in the wake of Vancouver 2010, pair skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov struck up an instant rapport and wasted little time reaching the top. World champions in 2013 and the holders of the short programme, free skate and combined score world records, the Russian duo won an unprecedented two gold medals at Sochi 2014, taking the honours in the pairs event and the new team competition.
Hailing from St Petersburg, Maxim Trankov won the junior world title in 2005 with Maria Mukhortova, with the pair going on to finish runners-up at the 2008 European Championships and seventh at Vancouver 2010. Meanwhile, his future partner Tatiana Volosozhar, was skating with fellow Ukrainian Stanislav Morozov. After competing at two Olympic Winter Games together (finishing 12th at Turin 2006 and eighth at Vancouver 2010), Morozov retired from competitive skating.
Morozov’s retirement left Volosozhar looking for a new partner. She did not have to wait long to find one. Trankov had expressed an interest in skating with her several years earlier and the two teamed up in May 2010, forging an instant bond and taking the Russian title only five months later. However, Volosozhar would have to wait a year before being allowed to represent Russia with Trankov on the international scene.
An inexorable rise
They starred at the 2011 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow, taking second place behind Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany. Coached by the experienced Nina Mozer, they were then joined by Volosozhar’s former partner Morozov as the team’s assistant. The new pair were well and truly on their way and had a very clear objective in mind: to atone for Russia’s disappointing showing at Vancouver 2010, where not one of the country’s pairs made the podium.
A sign of things to come
“It’s us who put the pressure on each other. It’s something we do day after day,” said Trankov, commenting on the drive and determination that has made the pair contenders at every major competition. After winning silver medals again at the 2012 Worlds in Nice, they finally went one better at London (CAN) in 2013, while also taking the European crowns in both seasons and winning the final of the 2013 ISU Grand Prix in Sochi. In taking that title in Canada they set world records with their free skate and combined scores, and then raised the bar even higher at Skate America in Detroit in October 2013, posting new records of 83.05 points in the short and 154.66 in the free, giving them a combined total of 237.71.
Hitting the heights in Sochi
When Sochi 2014 came around, Volosozhar and Trankov got their Games off to the best possible start by winning the new figure skating team competition for Russia. They then proceeded to dominate the pairs event, kicking off with a flawless short programme performed to the music of Aram Katchaturian’s Masquerade, which brought them another new points record of 84.17. They backed that display up with a magnificent free skate, with Jesus Christ Superstar providing the musical backdrop this time. Clearly overcome with emotion as they ended their routine, they were showered with flowers by the crowd. “That was the toughest job of our lives, and we were under enormous pressure,” said Volosozhar and Trankov, who had become the first pair skaters to win two gold medals at the same Games. “We already had the gold from the team competition, but this is what we really came for. This is our life dream.”