European News: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy and More

Summer Updates

Susan D. Russell
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy

World pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy performed in shows in China in June. In Shanghai they skated to live music played by world-famous pianist Lang Lang.

“It was a great honor to perform with such a famous musician,” Savchenko acknowledged in a recent television interview.

Meanwhile, their coach Ingo Steuer was hard at work in Germany on a new short program for the Swiss pairs team of Anais Morand and Tim Leemann. One of their programs is to music from “Cirque du Soleil.”

As for Savchenko and Szolkowy, Steuer said the Pink Panther is being buried. “We are planning new programs and are still waiting for inspiration for new music. Just pressing a button does not work,” he said.

Some of the other top German skaters also went abroad in June to work with renowned choreographers.

Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende, who placed 12th at Worlds, spent two weeks at the Detroit Skating Club working with Pasquale Camerlengo. “The club has really excellent facilities for the skaters, they did everything for us,” Wende said.

The music for their new short program is the well-known piece “Music is my First Love” by John Miles and the free is to the soundtrack from the film “Your Highness.”

Italy’s Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek, 10th at Worlds, also spent time in Detroit as did Czech singles skater Michal Březina.

Before leaving for the U.S. Březina earned excellent exam results for his English course at the university he attends in the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, his girlfriend Allison Reed recently split from her Georgian ice dance partner Otar Japaridze. He wanted to stay with their coach Evgeni Platov, but reports indicate Reed’s parents wanted her to move on.

Germany’s pair team of Katharina Gierok and Florian Just who placed 11th at Europeans remained in Germany this summer, working on choreography with dance coach Vladimir Tsvetkov.

The fourth German pair Mari Vartmann and Aaron van Cleave (a former U.S. pairs skater) are training in Berlin this summer with coach Knut Schubert and choreographer Paul Boll, a former ice dancer.

German ice dance champions Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi, 11th at Worlds, went to Sofia to work with former World champion Maxim Staviski. They will skate their short dance to a new version of the classy “Rumba d’Amour” and the free dance is to the soundtrack of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Their national rivals, Carolina Hermann and Daniel Herman were injured last season but the duo returned to the ice in March. They now train in Berlin with Rene Lohse. “It is a lot of fun to work with the Hermanns because they are perfectionists,” Lohse said.

His other couple, Stefanie Frohberg and Tim Giesen, who competed at Skate America and Skate Canada in 2010, has called it quits. Frohberg wants to concentrate on school and Giesen on his university studies. Neither was motivated to compete any more.

On an upbeat note, Lohse became a father for the first time in May to son, Linus Gabriel.

The third German dance couple Tanja Kolbe and Stefano Caruso went to Italy this summer to train with former World ice dance champion Barbara Fusar Poli.

Bad luck for German men’s champion Peter Liebers (15th at Worlds). Back in June, on his first day in Toronto working with choreographer Shin Amano, Liebers fell on his back and broke his hip. He was unable to move and is out of action for at least two months.

German ladies champion Sarah Hecken (11th at Worlds) had to undergo a small but painful hand surgery in May. The following month she went to Italy to work with her choreographer Eduardo de Bernadis.

The second German lady Katharina Hacker recently passed her examination as a doctor’s receptionist and plans to join the army next January.

Former German ladies champion Annette Dytrt has officially ended her amateur career.

And finally, eleven skaters and two coaches (Rene Lohse and Stefan Lindemann) have joined the German Army and now earn their living this way.

The Army has become the most important sponsor for many of Germany’s top skaters, which has everyone in that nation looking to the new season with a lot of optimism.