Bronze for Robin Szolkowy and Aliona Savchenko
German pairs skater Robin Szolkowy’s partnership with Aliona Savchenko dominated the event for years, but they had to settle for bronze at Vancouver 2010.
Robin Szolkowy (born 14 July 1979 in Greifswald, Germany) began skating when he was four years old. Originally a singles skater, he switched to pairs when he was 16.
Finding a partner
From 1997 to 2001 Szolkowy’s skating partner was Claudia Rauschenbach, daughter of Lake Placid 1980 gold medallist Anett Pötzsch. But after Rauschenbach retired, Szolkowy was unable to find a partner for 18 months, until his coach Ingo Steuer brought Aliona Savchenko over from Ukraine to try out as a potential partner. They had already met at junior level, when, according to Savchenko, “I came first and he came tenth.” The partnership soon brought success, and Savchenko relocated permanently to Germany.
After competing together for Germany at Turin 2006, placing sixth, Savchenko and Szolkowy went on a remarkable run of victories, becoming European champions in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and World champions in 2008 and 2009. As a result, the pair was one of the favourites to win gold at Vancouver 2010.
All was going well for Savchenko and Szolkowy until the final routine, the free skate. Reflecting on the performance of their Chinese rivals, Szolkowy said, “I was relaxed when I watched their routine, I was still at the Olympic Village.” But then during the routine their chances of gold disappeared when Szolkowy fell while attempting to land a double axel. As a result the pair had to settle for bronze medals behind China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, who won gold, and Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who won silver.