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. Carlin Isles talks about emotional start to rugby career (video)

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Carlin Isles Getty Images

    The U.S. will play Australia live on NBCSN and Live Extra on Saturday.

  2. U.S. Olympic men’s soccer coach talks over-age players

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:53 PM EDT

    Andi Herzog Getty Images

    If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can name three men to the roster over age 23.

  3. Hayward Field may soon be upgraded (rendering photo)

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT

    Hayward Field

    The upgrade would happen after the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

  4. Olympian attaches GoPro to javelin (video)

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:24 PM EDT

    GoPro Javelin

    First, a pole vaulter. Now, a javelin thrower.

  5. IOC pledges $2 million fund to help refugees

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:06 PM EDT

    Olympic flag

    The IOC called it an “emergency” fund.

  6. Aries Merritt home after successful kidney transplant (photos)

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aries Merritt AP

    Merritt left the hospital less than a week after winning a bronze medal in Beijing.

  7. Andre De Grasse stays in school

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT

    Andre De Grasse AP

    Canadian sprint sensation plans to compete collegiately in 2015-16.

  8. Mixed results for World champions in Zurich

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce AP

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, David Rudisha and Wayde van Niekerk were among the Beijing stars in Diamond League action.

  9. Check out the Rio Olympic mountain bike course (video)

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    Rio Olympic mountain bike course

    The course designer attached a camera to his helmet and traversed the dirt, rocks, going over a bridge and through a tunnel.

  10. U.S. shooters begin earning Olympic berths

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Michael McPhail Getty Images

    The 2016 U.S. Olympic team is now at eight athletes across all sports.

  11. Jeremy Abbott to sit out figure skating season

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT

    Jeremy Abbott AP

    The four-time U.S. champion isn’t retiring yet.

  12. Los Angeles’ ties to the Olympics

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Some of the names most associated with Los Angeles professional sports teams are Olympians.

  13. Five events to watch at Zurich Diamond League

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Tori Bowie Getty Images

    One event includes 2015 World champions from three different events.

  14. Mesut Özil open to Rio Olympics, but German coach dismisses

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mesut Ozil Getty Images

    “I can hardly imagine that it is possible given the schedule.”

  15. Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid is official

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Los Angeles 2024 logo

    Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome previously announced bids.

  16. Kerri Walsh Jennings done for season after this week

    Sep 1, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Walsh Jennings and April Ross will have little to no wiggle room in Olympic qualifying next year.

  17. Can Venus Williams qualify for a fifth Olympics?

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    Venus Williams AP

    She could become the second oldest Olympic singles player since the sport returned to the Games in 1988.

  18. Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo scrapped after plagiarism allegations

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:58 AM EDT

    Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo AP

    A competition will be held to pick a new logo.

  19. Top ten storylines from World Track and Field Championships

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Mo Farah AP

    Olympic champions came through and potential future Olympic stars broke out.