Olympics / Winter Olympics / Figure skating

Germany's Aljona Savchenko, Bruno Massot rally for pairs gold

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot came from fourth place after the short program to win the gold medal in pairs on Thursday afternoon in dramatic fashion at Gangneung Ice Arena.

The German duo earned a total score of 235.90 points for their skate to “La Terre Vue du Ciel.”

Savchenko has enjoyed considerable success in her career. She was a five-time world champion with former partner Robin Szolkowy, but had never won the Olympic gold.

Savchenko and Massot were smooth from start to finish in a routine that featured a throw triple flip, a throw triple salchow and a triple salchow/double toe loop/double toe loop combination.

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong claimed the silver medal, while Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford took the bronze.

“Today I wrote history,” Savchenko stated. “This is what counts.

Savchenko was unconcerned despite going into the free skate in fourth.

“I was positive after yesterday,” Savchcenko noted. “I said to Bruno, ‘We will write history today.’ And then everything happened as I had imagined it and it came true.

“It is my moment,” Savchenko added. “We celebrated the New Year together and we said 2018 will be our year and it became our year.”

Massot said he felt good from the start today.

“Yesterday it was a difficult day for me,” he commented. “But today when I woke up, I felt good. The practice was good and when we went out we felt like, ‘now it’s your time to fight.’ “

Massot was motivated to get the gold for Savchenko, who settled for the bronze in both Vancouver and Sochi.

“I got the gold medal in my head,” Massot stated. “Yesterday I said I don’t want her to come back with another bronze medal. She deserved the gold medal.”

Sui and Han appeared poised for victory, but the reigning world champions had some errors early in their free skate. Sui nearly fell on a triple salchow and Han stumbled during their three-combination jump to “Turandot.”

The total score for the Chinese was 235.47.

“I was quite nervous, this being my first Olympic Games,” Sui confessed. “We really wanted to do well, but simply fell too short in the end. But I hope this will give us the motivation we need over the next four years to do well again at the Beijing 2022 Games.”

Han was reflective in his comments about the result.

“As an athlete from China, to stand here and fight for our dreams is already an immense honor,” Han said. “The results weren’t very great, but we should have no regrets. We will continue to strive and fight.”

Radford and Duhamel were fantastic to “Hometown Glory.” Their presentation and interpretation were sublime and they tallied 230.15 to finish second in the free skate.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (224.93) were fourth.

France’s Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres were very impressive. Sixth after the short program, they put on a rapturous performance to the “Sound of Silence” that really moved the crowd.

James and Cipres (218.53) finished in fifth place.

North Korea’s Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik posted another season’s best in the free skate (124.23) for a total score of 193.63.

Ryom and Kim, who were 11th after the short program, again were greeted with heartfelt applause from the audience and put on a nice program that included a triple toe loop/double toe loop combination jump and concluded with a fine pair combination spin.

The duo trained in Montreal last summer for a couple of months and made big improvements. It seems clear that they could rise higher in the world rankings with an extended period of training overseas.

IOC president Thomas Bach was in attendance and sat in the stands between Ryom and Kim following their performance.

South Korean police again ringed the building to ensure the safety of the North Korean cheering squad as it entered.

Japan’s pairs team of Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara was eliminated on Wednesday after finishing 21st in the short program.