GANGNEUNG: Aljona Savchenko promised Bruno Massot that they would win Olympic pairs figure skating gold and they did it in style with a magical record-breaking free dance – and promptly burst into floods of tears.
The German duo’s sensational four-and-a-half-minute routine just denied China’s world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, the hot favourites who were pipped to the title by less than half a point after Sui took a tumble. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford added bronze to their team event gold with Canada.
The 34-year-old Savchenko ‘s dream of an elusive first gold at her fifth Winter Games looked in jeopardy after an unfortunate error by her French-born partner Massot — who only received German citizenship in November — in Wednesday’s short programme. His double instead of a triple salchow left him distraught and them trailing their Chinese rivals in fourth.
But 24 hours later Massot righted that wrong, matching his decorated ice companion step for step, their dance to “La Terre vue du ciel” by Armand Amar enthralling the crowd at the Gangneung Arena.
At the end of their performance they lay in each other’s arms on the ice, before Massot bowed to his partner and they made their way to the “kiss and cry” corner, where the tears flowed when their score of 159.09 points flashed up, beating the world record they set of 157.25 at the Grand Prix Final in December.
“This mistake put us in fourth place, six points behind, it was difficult to accept,” recounted Massot of his mishap. “But after we all met with the team yesterday we said tomorrow is another day and we have to attack this free programme like tigers.” Their electric free dance gave them a winning combined total of 235.90. “I believed from the beginning to the end that this story will be a dream come true,” smiled the Ukrainian-born Savchenko .
“I was positive after yesterday. I said to Bruno, we will write history today. And then everything happened as I had imagined it and it came true.”