Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy headed into the 2010 Olympic Games with one goal in mind.
As two-time World champions with a slew of international titles under their belts, they were aiming to add Olympic gold to their collection. But it was not to be and in the end the duo had to settle for bronze.
Following their second-place finish at the World Championships in March, they returned to their training base in Chemnitz, Germany, and immediately hit the ice. “We went back home and began preparing for the new season and focused on our preparation for the Grand Prix Series,” Szolkowy said.
The duo spent part of the off-season performing in shows all over the world. One of their favorite experiences was being part of the “All That Skate LA” shows in October, headlined by Yu-Na Kim and Michelle Kwan.
Los Angeles holds fond memories for both Savchenko and Szolkowy, who claimed their second World pairs title at the Staples Center in 2009.
“Going back to skate at that arena was like skating at home in a way,” Szolkowy recalled. “You remember all the paths and the doors; this was my dressing room and that is where we went for the press conferences. It was a nice feeling to skate in that arena again.
“The audiences in Los Angeles were very different to those in Europe and Asia. I think the North American fan base for us is getting bigger, but it is nothing like what we experience in Asia.”
Savchenko said performing in shows helps them add new dimensions to their competitive routines. “I get new motivation from performing, and I like to skate for the people at the shows.”
When asked what keeps them in the competitive arena, Savchenko said one of their goals is to regain the World title they lost to China’s Qing Pang and Jian Tong last March.
“I think that there is more we have to achieve,” Szolkowy added. “Sure, winning gold at the Olympics was our goal, but there is this feeling inside that we cannot stop. Our feelings are mixed. We are taking it season by season. We may sit out a season or we may not, it all depends on our health and our mental fitness.”
Savchenko, 26, who originally hails from the Ukraine, has no immediate plans to leave the amateur circuit. “I want to continue skating until the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia,” she said.
This season they have chosen Bond’s “Korobushka” for the short and selections from “The Pink Panther” for their free program.
“When you choose music, it is always important that you feel the music,” said Szolkowy, 31. “We wanted something different, something fast and impulsive.”
Along with their coach Ingo Steuer, Savchenko and Szolkowy spent a great deal of time searching for music for the free program during the off-season. “It was difficult after the Olympic Games and Worlds. We wanted to do something new, but it was hard at first,” Savchenko said. “We did a lot of thinking and deliberating about what we could do. Finally I suggested to Ingo that we should do ‘Pink Panther.’ It is something new for us, and we really like skating this program.”
Savchenko and Szolkowy kicked off their Grand Prix season by claiming gold at Skate America. Two weeks later they clinched a berth at the final with a win at Trophée Eric Bompard.
Originally published in February 2011