Skip to content

Top Russian pairs skaters not fazed by impending Olympic pressure

Oct 22, 2013, 3:50 PM EDT

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. Greg Louganis recalls Olympic diving, HIV, coming out in ‘Back on Board’ film

    Aug 4, 2015, 4:23 PM EDT

    Greg Louganis HBO

    The film includes footage from Olympics from 1976 through 2012.

  2. Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte miss medals; Katie Ledecky breaks record at Worlds

    Aug 4, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Franklin got a horrible start in the 100m backstroke.

  3. Watch NBC News report from Rio Olympic water venues

    Aug 4, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    Copacabana Beach

    U.S. sailors comment while training at Guanabara Bay.

  4. Watch NBC Olympics one year from Rio 2016 promo video

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:28 PM EDT

    Rio 2016

    The Olympics open on Aug. 5, 2016.

  5. Triathletes’ reactions to Rio Olympic water venue after test event

    Aug 3, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT

    AP AP

    “We swim in waters all around the world, and this was no different from anywhere else,” Gwen Jorgensen said.

  6. Misty May-Treanor competes for first time in 3 years, not a comeback

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:51 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    May-Treanor retired after the London Olympics and had a baby.

  7. David Boudia earns another World Diving Championships silver

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:59 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Boudia trounced one Chinese star but was beaten by a longtime rival.

  8. Katie Ledecky, Sun Yang open quests for history with golds at World Championships

    Aug 2, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    Katie Ledecky Getty Images

    Also, a U.S. Olympic champion’s world record was broken in a semifinal.

  9. Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

    Aug 2, 2015, 1:28 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Rousey is a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist.

  10. World Swimming Championships men’s preview

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    Ryan Lochte Getty Images

    Action gets started Sunday in Kazan.

  11. USOC collecting data on polluted Rio Olympic water venues

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT

    AP AP

    A US Sailing official maintained his stance on the Rio water from last year.

  12. Which Miracle on Ice item is the toughest for Jim Craig to sell? (video)

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Jim Craig AP

    Watch the goalie’s interview on The Dan Patrick Show.

  13. British Athletics clears Mo Farah after investigation

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Farah was to have “blood data, supplements data, everything surrounding his medical treatment” investigated.

  14. World Swimming Championships broadcast schedule

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky Getty Images

    NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra and Universal Sports will combine for daily coverage.