German pair wins world figure skating title
German duo Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won their second-straight pairs title at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles late on Wednesday.
"Defending the title means a lot to us," Szolkowy said. "We knew it would be different when you have to defend a title."We skated both programmes well, it was a good competition for us."
Skating to the Schindler's List soundtrack, the German duo earned their second-consecutive World Championship crown to go with three-straight European titles. They earned $67,500 in prize money.
China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao claimed silver, while Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, of Russia, took the bronze.
Savchenko and Szolkowy executed the most difficult aspects of their routine with precision.
Their performance included a triple toe-loop sequence, backward outside death spiral, pair combination spin and a triple twist.
They finished it off with a spot-on triple salchow throw that sent the crowd of about 5,000 at the Staples Center arena into a wild celebration.
The only blemish was an innocent slip by Szolkowy while gliding backwards, but he recovered quickly from the fall.
"I don't know what happened. You just have to move on," he said.
Zhang and Zhang now have a third silver medal to go with two others they won at the 2006 and 2008 World Championships.
Zhang Hao said they felt good in training but get too nervous in the big show.
"Our training is very good but once we get into performance we can't perform the same," Zhang Hao said. "It is almost the Olympics. We need to fix this."
Kavaguti and Smirnov skated last to the music I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo as they followed the German duo. They were second after the short programme but couldn't hold on in the free skate.
But they were pleased they bettered their fourth-place showing at the 2008 Worlds.
"We improved," Smirnov said. "For the third time we had to skate after the World champions - after the Chinese couple Shen/Zhao in 2007 and the Germans in 2008 and 2009."
The Russians just bumped 2006 World Champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian off the podium spoiling what would have been silver and bronze for China.