Savchenko and Szolkowy
Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are hoping to add an Olympic gold medal to their collection of world championships. Up until a few months ago, it seemed the stars were definitely aligning for the team to continue its recent dominance. However, a combination of some disappointing performances from this pair and the re-emergence of Chinese powerhouse Shen and Zhao may prove hard for this pair to overcome.
Savchenko and Szolkowy are an exciting pair. Their moves, such as the triple twist, are so HUGE. And they are usually fairly clean. They are not exactly a delicate pair, but they are still truly compelling in their programs. They also have a very high level of difficulty on moves like their lifts. They had been successful on side by side triples, although I've heard they may be considering some jump downgrades for the Olympics due to recent troubles.
The team has Olympic experience; they placed sixth at the Turin games in 2006 and received the same placement at that year's world championships. They leaped onto the medal podium in 2007 with a bronze medal at the world championships, until finally winning the competition in 2008 and 2009.
This year, things started to unravel for the pair. They had an absolutely disastrous free skate at Trophee Eric Bompard after getting tripped up on a routine move. I can't understand why they broke down the way they did, but they responded by completely redoing their free skate. They are now skating to the well-received Out of Africa. At Skate Canada, Savchenko and Szolkowy were back to being dominant, and even received a ten in program components. I assumed after that performance that they would win the Grand Prix Final. I was wrong - they only won the bronze there. And they had a disappointing finish at the recent European championships as well, only managing to snag the silver medal and losing momentum to Russia's Kavaguti and Smirnov. It was widely reported that Aliona Savchenko had been battling mono prior to Europeans, so it was actually a pretty impressive feat for her to be out there. However, I'm not sure what this means for their medal chances.
The Programs: I love both their short program and their free skate. I think the free will be one of the prettiest of the night.
Latest Performance: Their short program at Europeans was just amazing - exactly what they'd need to do in the Olympics. Unfortunately, they had some slight errors in the free skate. They doubled planned triple salchows, and she had a bad landing out of the throw triple flip.
Strengths: This team is an all-around team. They are good at everything. When they're on, there are only a few teams in the world that can even touch them.
Weaknesses: They've just been too sloppy this season, and the competition is too fierce to open that many doors.
It gives me the creeps when: They dress up as clowns. Although, to be fair, it probably gives 75 percent of the world the creeps whenever anyone dresses up like clowns. Also, Send in the Clowns is not about clowns, just fyi (doesn't matter if you throw in a little circus music at the end).
I think it's awesome when: He throws her, quite a sight.
Outlook: This team can very well still win the gold medal, despite their roller coaster season. They've worked hard for this and have been the best for a few years now, so I think that if they are able to skirt disaster, they will likely be able to get on the podium.