The perfect partner on ice
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.
Olympic debut for Ukraine
Born in the Ukrainian city of Dniepropetrovsk, Tatiana Volosozhar represented her native country in partnership with Stanislav Morozov up to the age of 23. Appearing at two Olympic Winter Games together, they came 12th at Turin 2006 and eighth at Vancouver 2010, after which Morozov retired from competitive skating.
Morozov’s retirement left Volosozhar looking for a new partner, though she did not have to wait long to find one. St Petersburg-born Maxim Trankov, had enjoyed considerable success with Maria Mukhortova, with the pair winning the junior world title in 2005, finishing runners-up at the 2008 European Championships and then seventh at the Vancouver Games. Trankov had expressed an interest in skating with Volosozhar several years earlier. The two eventually teamed up in May 2010, forging an instant bond and taking the Russian title only five months later, though Volosozhar would have to wait a year before being allowed to represent Russia on the international scene.
Bound for the top
The pair starred at the 2011 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow, taking second place behind Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany. “We weren’t even thinking of the silver,” said a delighted Volosozhar afterwards. “We thought that we might be able to get bronze, so this result has come as a complete surprise to us. The most amazing thing for us was the fantastic response we got from the spectators, even before our short programme, and I’ll never forget the standing ovation they gave us after our free exercise.” Coached by the experienced Nina Mozer, they were then bolstered by the recruitment of Volosozhar’s former partner Morozov, as assistant.
History in Sochi
Arriving at Sochi 2014 as reigning world champions and the holders of three world records, including the combined total, which they had taken out to 237.71 points, Volosozhar and Trankov got their Games off to the best possible start by helping Russia win gold in the new figure skating team competition. They then proceeded to dominate the pairs event, kicking off with a flawless short programme performed to music from Aram Katchaturian’s Masquerade, which brought them another new points record of 84.17. They followed up that display with a magnificent free skate to the music from Jesus Christ Superstar.
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.”