World champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov set a new world record score for the short programme to get their bid for a second Olympic figure skating gold off the mark on Tuesday at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace.
Trankov, resplendent in a military-themed outfit, and Volosozhar, in a ballroom-style dress, performed flawlessly to «Masquerade Waltz» by Aram Khachaturian to score 84.17 points.
That bettered the 83.98 they set on their way to a third European title in January, much to the delight of the majority of fans who bedecked the Iceberg with red, white and blue flags.
The Russians opened with a high triple twist, and included perfectly timed side-by-side triple toeloops and a throw triple loop to the deafening roars of the crowd as they landed each jump.
«There were moments when things seemed easy and I thought I was just flying but I had to check myself before the emotions took over,» said 27-year-old Trankov.
«The Olympics in Russia — I don’t know when it will happen again and it’s something we’ll take with us for the rest of our lives. The whole country is giving us their support now.»
Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, four-time world champions and Olympic bronze medallists at Vancouver 2010, are sitting second, having produced a new season’s best 79.64 for their error-free routine, performed to the soundtrack from “The Pink Panther’.
The Germans had decided to return to a programme that had won them their third world title back in 2011, and were’ delighted with the outcome.
«When you’re having fun doing your routine and the audience goes with it, it just makes you feel good and less nervous,» said Savchenko.
«We are happy we changed our programme. It was the absolute right choice. Maybe we couldn’t skate it at 110percent, but at least at 105percent,» added Szolkowy.
A new circle in the story
The other Russian couple, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov scored 75.21 to sit third. The pair who helped Russia win team gold in Sochi, scored 75.21 for their «Flamenco» lie one place ahead of Chinese veterans Pang Qing and Tong Jian, silver medallists in Vancouver in 2010, who scored 73.30 after Pang under-rotated his triple toe loop.
Volosozhar and Trankov will now go into Wednesday’s free skating final hopeful that they can add to the 12 titles won by Russian or Soviet couples stretching back to two-time Olympic champions Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov, who won their first gold in 1964.
“For us it’s very important to give back to Russia this tradition,» said Trankov. «Fifty-years ago they [Belousova and Protopopov] beat the German world champions in the Olympic Games. So it’s like a new circle in the story.”