• Germany edition
 
Drama on ice as Germans fight for medal
Savchenko and Szolkowy on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Drama on ice as Germans fight for medal

Published: 29 Mar 2012 12:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Mar 2012 12:53 GMT+02:00

The Germans may have largely shed the traditional sequins from their outfits, but when they take to the ice in Nice, France on Friday, they will be hoping to sparkle enough to meet the skating expectations of the nation.

Savchenko and Szolkowy are the defending champions, but have been plagued by injury, and haunted by the most difficult jump ever performed in pairs ice skating - the triple axle.

The glory days of Katarina Witt seem an awfully long time ago – with the star herself now serving on the judging panel of Britain’s Dancing on Ice television show.

Although Savchenko and Szolkowy have a world class coach Ingo Steuer, who won the pairs competition in 1997, his involvement has brought with it a particularly German problem.

Because he was an informer for the infamous East German secret police, the Stasi, he cannot get financial help from the German skating union.

This means that to pay his fees, his skaters have to earn money in commercial ice shows, which disrupts their training schedule.

Click here for pictures of Savchenko and Szolkowy in action.

Elke Treitz, vice president of the German Skating Union told The Local, “He is one of the best pairs trainers in the world.” But she said a law prevented the union contributing any money because it is publicly funded and he has a Stasi past.

Merging the east and west teams to produce a united German approach was not simple, said Berlin-based figure skating trainer Viola Striegler.

She said the east German sports system scouted out potential champions when they were very young, took them out of school and sent them to special intensive training centres. “They had a very different way of training. It was extremely systematic,” she told The Local.

She also praised Steuer, who, despite his past as an informer, is treated normally by most involved in the sport, she said.

What counts more is the fact that he has brought Savchenko and Szolkowy to the brink of managing the triple-axle jump.

They nearly got it perfect on Wednesday in the short programme competition – Szolkowy successfully threw Savchenko spinning into the air and she managed the three-and-a-half revolutions before landing – but did so on both feet rather than one.

Until now only one team – two-time former US champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin – has landed the jump in competition.

Yet the tricky move, while covering the pair in glory, failed to get them on the medals table – they made Olympic and international history when they landed it at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, but ended up in 7th place.

Savchenko and Szolkowy are hoping to revive the days of German figure skating glory on Friday – but will face tough competition in the form of China’s Olympic silver medallists Pang Qing and Tong Jian who were hot on their heels on Wednesday, and Japan’s Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran who came third.

Whether they give the triple axle another shot remains to be seen – and even if they manage to pull it off, the entire package will have to work.

Miriam Widman (mirwidman@gmail.com)

Your comments about this article

13:51 March 29, 2012 by heathen
narc rat fink
16:40 March 29, 2012 by derExDeutsche
This is not a sport in the same way that Professional Wrestling is not a sport. Money and politics determine the winner. the 2002 Olympics comes to mind.
Today's headlines
Karstadt closes stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

Spring back in German consumers' step?
Photo: DPA

Spring back in German consumers' step?

Update: Consumer confidence in Germany has stopped falling, as households appear to be no longer fazed by concerns about the economic fallout from geopolitical crises, a new poll found on Friday. READ  

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 26
An eyewitness captured the moment of the explosion on their phone. Photo: DPA

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 26

UPDATE: One person has died and 26 others are injured after a huge explosion in Ludwigshafen, western Germany on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,528
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd