Pairs Podium ©Getty Images
In an exciting Olympic Pairs final, Germany’s Aljona Savchenko / Bruno Massot soared to gold at Gangneung Ice Arena on Thursday, edging world champions Wenjing Sui / Cong Han of China by just 0.43 points to win the first Olympic pair skating gold for Germany in 66 years. Canada’s Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford earned the bronze medal.
Sitting in fourth following the short program, Savchenko/Massot put out a stellar free skating to ‘La terre vue du ciel’ highlighted by a triple twist, side by side triple Salchow-double toe-double, triple toe, throw triple flip and throw triple Salchow as well as beautiful lifts. The World silver medalists made all those difficult elements look easy. Only when it was over they collapsed in happiness on the ice. Savchenko/Massot broke their own record for the free skating with 159.31 points. Overall they racked up 235.90 points.
“It is my moment. Today I wrote history. This is what counts,” Savchenko said, who after two Olympic bronze medals with her former partner stepped on to the top of the podium in her fifth Olympic Winter Games.
Aljona Savchenko / Bruno Massot (GER) ©AFP
"We were on the ice for the gold medal and we didn't give up," Massot, who had doubled the Salchow in the short program on Wednesday, added. "It was hard for me yesterday, but Aljona was there for me. She said, 'It is not finished. We still have the free program to come.' We did a gold medal program, we broke the record. It is amazing to come from fourth to first, it is incredible," he continued.
Wenjing Sui / Cong Han (CHN) ©Getty Images
World champions Sui/Han skated very well to "Turandot" and nailed a quadruple twist as well as a big throw triple flip and Salchow, but they were shaky on the side by side jumps toe and Salchow, which cost them the title. The Chinese team picked up 235.47 points to claim the silver medal in their debut at the Olympic Winter Games.
"I was quite nervous, this being my first Olympic Games. We really wanted to do well, but simply fell too short in the end. But I hope that this will give us the motivation we need over the next four years to do well again at the Beijing 2022 Games," Sui noted.
Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford (CAN) ©Getty Images
Duhamel/Radford’s routine to “Hometown Glory” by Adele featured a throw quadruple Salchow, a throw triple Lutz and triple Salchow-double toe-double toe combination. The two-time World Champions posted a new season best with 153.33 points and were ranked second in the Free Skating, but remained in third place overall on 230.15 points. The Canadians also became the first pair to land a clean throw quad in the Olympic Winter Games. The bronze was already the third Olympic medal for Duhamel/Radford, who won gold with the team in PyeongChang on Monday and silver with the team in Sochi in 2014.
"This is better that anything we could have imagined. This competition, there were so many good Pairs that anything could have happened. So for us to go out and lay it down, it meant so much to us,” Radford commented. “That was a better way to end, with an awesome long program. A bronze medal is more than I could ever have hoped for,” he shared. Duhamel/Radford don’t plan to attend the ISU World Figure Skating Championships and want to end their career at the Olympic Winter Games.
European Champions Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov (OAR) dropped to fourth as she doubled the side by side Salchow and missed the throw triple Salchow (224.93 points). Vanessa James / Morgan Cipres (FRA) moved up from sixth to fifth place (218.53 points) and Valentina Marchei / Ondrej Hotarek (ITA) ranked sixth with 216.59 points
The crowd at Gangneung Ice Arena once more warmly welcomed the 2018 Four Continents bronze medalists Tae Ok Ryom / Ju Sik Kim (PRK) who turned in a personal best performance to come 13th on 193.63 points.
The figure skating competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games continues on Friday February 16 with the Men’s Short Program.