Friday, October 24, 2008

No rest for Savchenko, Szolkowy

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are always looking ahead.The world pair champions already have a win under their belts this season, having routed the field at their home country's Nebelhorn Trophy last month. They won by nearly 15 points, but it wasn't enough for their coach, the hard-driving Ingo Steuer, who has carefully plotted their ascent, step by step."At Nebelhorn, a few of their elements were Level 1, which is not nearly good enough," Steuer said. "They were far too sloppy. For example, the positions in the spins must be held for [at least] three revolutions. So they have to train these elements more."Szolkowy quickly agreed."I think our programs feel quite strong now and they will grow during the season," the 29-year-old skater said. "But we'll have to see how we compare to the other top teams. Each season has its own story."For the Germans, the tale is told by the detailed results distributed after each event. Steuer, who won the 1997 world pair title with Mandy Wotzel, pours over his pupils' levels, grades of execution and program component scores with an intensity unsurpassed in the sport. And he's not shy with his criticisms."He is always thinking about new elements and steps," Szolkowy said. "Immediately, when a program is done, he is thinking what to do next."Teamed by Steuer in 2003, the Germans are known for unique choreography and difficult transitions between elements. Often, points gained in these areas have helped lift them to titles despite their mistakes on jumps. At the 2008 ISU World Figure Skating Championshipsin Gothenburg this March, they overcame Szolkowy's fall on a triple Salchow to claim the title with seven Level 4 elements.

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