Skip to content

Top Russian pairs skaters not fazed by impending Olympic pressure

Oct 22, 2013, 3:50 PM EST

Tatiana Volosozhar, Maxim Trankov AP

DETROIT — Russian figure skating isn’t what it once was: a nation responsible for 14 medals over three Olympics in the 1990s — and 12 straight pairs golds from 1964 and 2006 — may win one skating medal at the Sochi Olympics.

The best hope is the pairs team of Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, the reigning World Champions who reset their short program and free skate world records at Skate America in Detroit last weekend.

The Moscow-based skaters are motivated and not deterred by the immense pressure.

“We only have pressure for each other — we push each other every day,” Trankov said. “I think it’s most important to keep working. You never know, especially with the Olympics, what will happen. You cannot plan these competitions. You just work and hope that everything will be OK.”

It wasn’t OK for the Russians at the 2010 Games, when — for the first time since 1960 — no Russian (or Soviet) pair landed on the podium. Trankov was eighth with a different partner and Volosozhar, then competing for Ukraine, was ninth. China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won gold.

“There is an old tradition for pairs skating in our country,” Trankov said. “The last Olympics were won by the Chinese, but they skated like Soviet pairs skaters; they were good and were champions. The way they skated was kind of Russian. We just want to win back a medal for our country in pairs.”

Volosozhar and Trankov can win a second medal with the debut of the Olympic figure skating team event. Trankov thinks he and Volosozhar will do the short program and give another Russian pair the opportunity to sub in for the free skate.

Volosozhar explained further, noting the turnaround from the team event free skate (Feb. 8) to the start of the pairs competition (Feb. 11).

“We want to skate,” she said. “We just don’t understand why it is before the main competition. Because for pairs, we start way earlier. There are only two days between the team competition and the main one.”

Volosozhar and Trankov are confident that the Russian team can win a medal — if not gold — particularly if they have three-time Olympic medalist and 2006 Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko. The U.S., Canada and Japan are considered medal favorites along with Russia.

Plushenko has battled injuries since winning silver at the 2010 Olympics and hasn’t competed since January. Russia earned one men’s spot at the Games. Plushenko is thought to be a lock to receive it if he proves healthy.

“He said he wants to skate for the team event for sure,” Trankov said. “He will skate both programs, and we’re very to happy to have him on our team. It’s a really good chance for us to win a medal.”

The Russians have a respectable team in Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev in ice dancing, bronze medalists at the World Championships in March, and Adelina Sotnikova, ninth at Worlds at 16.

“Maybe not gold, but we for sure we can win a team medal,” Trankov said. “We have good girls and pairs and not bad ice dancers. I think we’ll do it. If Evgeni will help us, that will make it even better.”

And the eight years since a pairs gold in Russia?

“That helps us a little bit,” Volosozhar said. “Because we want to win a medal for Russia.”

Quad quandary for top U.S. men

Latest Posts
  1. Alan Webb set for first Olympic-sized triathlon test Saturday

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:25 PM EST

    Alan Webb

    U.S. mile record holder wants to make the Rio Olympic team in triathlon.

  2. Missy Franklin’s dream to become most decorated female swimmer ever

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

    AP AP

    Franklin will likely need at least two Olympics to pass three U.S. women who share the Olympic medals record.

  3. Ronda Rousey says top female fighter Cyborg is ‘a known fraud’

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:34 PM EST

    AP AP

    But the Olympic judo bronze medalist would welcome a fight with Cyborg under certain conditions.

  4. Steve Nash: Canada has ‘outside shot’ at Olympic basketball medal

    Mar 4, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Steve Nash Getty Images

    But a “50-50″ shot at qualifying for the Olympics this summer.

  5. Joakim Noah unlikely for EuroBasket, in doubt for Olympics

    Mar 4, 2015, 8:56 AM EST

    AP AP

    France may have to qualify for Rio with a team led by Tony Parker.

  6. Michael Phelps may be reinstated for World Championships, report says

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:20 PM EST

    Michael Phelps Getty Images

    Previously, Phelps and USA Swimming agreed he would withdraw from the World Championships team due to his DUI arrest.

  7. David Boudia scraps springboard plan; Nick McCrory retires

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    David Boudia Getty Images

    The Olympic champion competes next week for the first time since July.

  8. Pan American Games medals include Braille (photos)

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:07 AM EST

    Pan American Games medal

    How do the versions for Toronto 2015 compare to previous Pan Am Games medals?

  9. Fukushima, site of nuclear disaster, wants to host 2020 Olympic baseball

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:27 AM EST

    Fukushima Getty Images

    Even if baseball is re-added to the Olympics, Fukushima might not be a logical choice to host games.

  10. England FA hopes to qualify soccer teams for Rio Olympics

    Mar 2, 2015, 4:59 PM EST

    Team GB Getty Images

    Team GB’s men and women were ousted in the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals.

  11. Ronda Rousey should scare men’s fighters, Jay Glazer says (video)

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:28 PM EST

    Ronda Rousey Getty Images

    The Olympic judo bronze medalist is compared to a former dominant heavyweight boxer.

  12. Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross confident after defeat in Brazil showdown

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:47 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Walsh Jennings also had breakfast with a beach legend in Rio de Janeiro.

  13. South Africa 2024 Olympic bid ‘unrealistic,’ official says

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:11 AM EST

    South Africa flag Getty Images

    IOC member and former South Africa Olympic Committee president previously said the nation was readying to bid.

  14. Brittany Bowe sweeps at World Sprint Championships (video)

    Mar 2, 2015, 10:21 AM EST

    AP AP

    Bowe skated with dominance not seen since 2003.

  15. Lindsey Vonn lost in the fog in Bansko super combined

    Mar 1, 2015, 8:31 AM EST

    AP AP

    Vonn will get another chance on Monday.

  16. Ronda Rousey defends UFC title in 14 seconds

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:05 AM EST

    Ronda Rousey AP

    Rousey is undefeated in 11 pro fights since winning Olympic judo bronze in 2008.