Wednesday, 17/1/2018 | : : UTC-8
Skate Today

German Pair Nears the Top

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy

For the first time since the retirement of 1997 World pairs champions Mandy Wotzel and Ingo Steuer from competitive skating, Germany has a top pairs team which can compete for the medals at the European Championships. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy reached fourth place at the 2004 European Championships in Torino, Italy in January. This was their first ISU championship competition together since Savchenko just became eligible to compete for Germany this season after moving from the Ukraine to Germany in 2003.

But Savchenko is no stranger to the podium at international competitions. With her former partner, Stanislav Morozov, she won the 2000 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in pairs. The duo also finished as high as sixth at Europeans in 2001, ninth at Worlds in 2001, and 15th at the Olympics in 2002. Szolkowy was not quite as successful on the international scene with his previous partners. He finished ninth at World Juniors with Claudia Rauschenbach in 2001, but never competed at Europeans or Worlds before teaming with Savchenko.

After her partner retired in 2002, Savchenko wanted to continue skating and sought another partner. “I always wanted to skate in Germany,” Savchenko said. “So I told a German journalist that I was looking for a new partner. He asked some German coaches and told me about Robin. I knew him already from the Junior Worlds where I came first and he came tenth. So I told my mother there was a dark boy in Germany that wanted to skate with me and I knew him and thought it might be a good match” Szolkowy had thought his pairs career was over after his partner left and was actually skating synchro when he got the offer to try out with Savchenko.

Savchenko began skating when she was five. “I saw skating on television and was fascinated by it,” she recalled. “I didn’t do any other sports but I wanted to try figure skating. I started pairs when I was 13 years old. I saw the other skaters doing it and I wanted to do it myself. I liked all the acrobatic things like lifts and twists and throws.” The skaters have completed a quad twist and use a throw triple flip and throw triple loop in their free skate

Szolkowy started when he was four. “It was by coincidence,” he said. “We were at an airport that had an ice rink. I dropped in to try it and liked it. I changed to pairs when I was 16 because I couldn’t see a future in singles. I had difficulty with the harder triple jumps.” The couple includes only side-by-side triple toe loops in their programs.

Ingo Steuer coaches the talented couple, who train at Chemnitz in Germany. They work on ice for about three hours a day, five days a week in the summer, and then increase their training to over five hours a day during the season. Steuer also choreographs the couple’s programs. This season, they are using “Isolde” by Maurice Luttikkus for the short program, music from the “Casablanca” soundtrack for the long, and “Belle” from the “Notre Dame de Paris” soundtrack performed by Smash for their exhibition program. Steuer chooses all the couples music. “I know what look is right for them,” Steuer stated. Off ice, she likes to listen to all different kinds of music, while he prefers pop.

Other than listening to music, Savchenko said she had no time for other hobbies, although she likes to read. Szolkowy enjoys working on and riding his motorcycle and playing other sports.

Savchenko spends much of her off ice time studying German, with classes three times a week. Szolkowy is part of the sports division of the German Army, where he has worked for the last year and a half. Although Savchenko hays no future plans after skating, Szolkowy hopes to own an independent business. “What kind depends on the opportunities,” he said.

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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