Some clippings from German press coverage of the first gold medal in pairs since 1952


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Some clippings from German press coverage of the first gold medal in pairs figure skating for Germany since 1952

I really enjoyed reading them, and like to share. I will post each article in a separate post, with selected paragraphs translated.
[partial translation, by google with some additional editing]

Nur ein Weltwunder konnte helfen / Only a wonder of the worlds could help by Christof Siemes
(please click on the link, the journos have to make a living)

So many tears! So much luck! This is figure skating, the most emotional of all sports, the overflowing heart of this, of all the Olympics. In the end, the handkerchiefs, that Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot constantly pull out of the box that stands in front of them on a coffee table, are no longer enough. Behind a curtain sits the German figure skating couple, in front of it, is the Kiss & Cry corner, the executioner's bench, where the athletes are waiting for the grades of the judges after their free skating.


Everything started terribly the day before. "Falling is the mortal lot," says Goethe's poem Winter. The classic prince was himself an enthusiastic, sometimes smiled skater. "It's ice course again, farewell thou muses, or out on the rink!" Perhaps it would have worked faster with the naturalization of the Frenchman Bruno Massot, if "ice skating in German poetry" had been the subject of his test. So he had to cram for grammar until just before the Olympics, and maybe less tears would have had to be shed, to be at the top.

[The author is referring to this poem: by one of the most famous and most important German writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, much feared by pupil and students alike]

[Paragraphs about SP drama]

"I was not strong enough for a triple jump today," he says afterwards, while Savchenko holds a kind of quarantine distance to him with an icy expression. After two bronze medals with her previous partner Robin Szolkowy, she definitely wants the gold, maybe too much. Frenchman Massot was a good but not an outstanding athlete when she chose him for her historic Olympia mission (only three German couples have ever won gold, most recently Ria Baran and Paul Falk in Oslo, that was 66 years ago [on a side note: Paul Falk has passed away only last year, 95 years of age]).

Castings across national borders are common in pair racing, a Czech for Italy, an Estonian for Russia, a Belgian for Germany's second Olympic pair – because top talent is so rare, the competition is a celebration of international understanding [This sentence got quite some hate in the commentary section, mercenaries in sports, buying medals, not speaking German good enough …]. Driven by the iron will of the native Ukrainian Savchenko, who was drilled in the Russian skating school, now caring by coach Alexander König, the two came nevertheless surprisingly quickly to an outstanding level.

"His rate at the jump is great, he is fifty times and not once," says König with wryly widened eyes after the SP. But in the pairs ultimately every easy-looking moment is difficult. And all the things judges paying attention to! In addition to the skating skills and mastery of the jumps, it's about transitions, timing, shureness, clean programs, rhythm, balance, precision, clarity, speed, power, personality, partnership, clarity of technique, ease in tempo changes, the "multi- dimensional use and design of the space of movement ", the "physical, emotional, intellectual grasp and presentation" of the material. Even a great brain like Goethe could start to spin.

They work with Christopher Dean, Bolereo…

Together they create to the music of the documentary film La terre vue du ciel never seen movements, entanglements, a Möbius band of human bodies, where you can hardly distinguish between below and above, inside and outside. Sometimes the athletes themselves no longer know how the braid dissolves happily in the end.

More about FS perfect drama […]

"It was hard for me yesterday," Bruno Massot admits, "but Aljona told me we're not done yet, we need to show everyone that our FS is gold medal material." Then he steps aside and stretches his thighs on the barrier of the mixed zone. Art is beautiful, but also very exhausting.

A coach, says Alexander König, should never admit that there could be a perfect FS. But now he has seen it, from the stands, he wanted to enjoy this Olympic moment amidst the spectators. Now he gives up the trainer job and goes back to Berlin, his home. In this competition, in this hall, on this ice, life nodes have broken loose and lifelines in a moment of sporting history.

Goethe, who knew so much about the hopes and fears, strivings and failures of the people, already had words for the magic-reconciling power of ice:

"Everybody strives and hurries and searches for and flees from each other,
but everybody is reigned pleasantly by the slippery course."

[translation of verses are neither google’s strength nor mine]
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Article on Alexander König and his future plans:
Wie ein Berliner Trainer eine Olympia-Hoffnung formte / How a Berlin coach formed an Olympic hope by Marcel Stein
(please click on the link, the journos have to make a living)

He stands behind the barrier, looks what's going on the ice. Every second the mood changes, from tension to relief. Or disappointment, depending on what the elements Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are showing. From his own understanding, this is not really a suitable job for Alexander König. He does not like being dependent on others in assessing his work.

In his main job as figure skating coach he feels "not necessarily male". Watch a lot, wait, hope. "Men have to do something, something has to be done," he says. That's why he paints and draws, that's why he writes. König already exhibited drawings and paintings, he has published a children's book. He is currently studying and wants to earn a degree as a mediator. "You can learn something for life," says König. And take it with you for work. After all, he has a lot to talk about, to talk to two people.

[About his work with S/M]

Bringing these two characters together and form them into a homogeneous pair, provided difficult moments for König. After five world titles with Robin Szolkowy Savchenko sought in 2014 a completely new environment, went from Chemnitz to Oberstdorf, where König has lived for eight years. König got a star and an asterisk, because Massot was until then a blank slate. "Bruno has managed to enter more and more into the alliance with Aljona, trying hard to understand her, which has been his most difficult job in all the years," said the coach, who felt that the Frenchman had a hard time accepting that Savchenko was far in front of him regarding her skills.

König, once himself a three-time Olympian in pairs, is even working with a psychologist to prepare both as good as possible. "Aljona thinks she has everything firmly under control. Bruno thinks similarly." They do not want a psychologist, so König picks up the things and gives them to the athletes, where he repeatedly finds that they are receptive. He records such stories, gathers material in words and pictures, more precisely in drawings, when he is on the road with them. For quite some time he has enough to write another book. "My former German teacher would be surprised, she was not so happy with me," says König. The book will be again for children, the story will revolve around the four years with Savchenko and Massot.

Maybe Olympia and the following World Cup will deliver the final episode of this story. Savchenko is 34 years old, it could be her last big performances. So far, Alexander König only knows that he will be moving back home to Berlin after the season. And once finished his studies. So he definitely creates something.
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Savchenko und Massot in eisigen Höhen / Savchenko and Massot in icy heights by Claus Cousin
(please click on the link, the journos have to make a living)

In an almost hopeless situation, they win Olympic gold in pairs skating. With a FS, that moves people to tears. Top-class sport that arouses feelings – thanks to two figure-skating stars.

But then comes that moment, then lives this powerful performance, this dream, then all 8.000 spectators stand up, who had not thought before to get up. They pay tribute to beauty: Aljona Savchenko and her partner Bruno Massot do not simply win Olympic gold out of a seemingly hopeless situation. The German from Ukraine and the German from France, they take the figure skating in the Olympic Park of Gangneung into another world.

It's not often that a sport, that has few real fans, reaches a large audience. That it causes tears to people who have nothing to do with sports in normal life. It has become the absolute exception that the sport can arouse such emotions. But he still can.

Maybe, because a performance like this one of Savchenko and Massot has never been seen in pairs figure skating. Something that is more art than skating. Yes, both show a technically clean performance – that's part of it. But they dance across the ice in such a way, that all gravity suddenly looks feathery. Again and again, the bodies of both seem to be intertwined. As if by magic, this intimacy is transmitted to the audience. As if you feel the heat on the cold ice. The bond.

Of course, the perfection of such a FS can be made statistically tangible even in such an artistic sport. All the elements on the ice succeed perfectly for the duo under German flag – WR with 159.31 points. All individual jumps worked perfectly, the excellently performed high twist as input element and also the triple throw-flip. From fourth place on Wednesday's shy SP, Savchenko and Massot are in first place to the music of the nature documentary "The World from Above" and win gold. And coach Alexander König says: "We trainers always see mistakes. But that was the best freestyle I've ever seen."

[Reminiscence to 1984 Sarajevo, Bolero and T/D, FS choreographed by Dean…]

A columnist of the "Zeit" revealed shortly after the moving FS, that already Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had given the skating a special meaning. A separate skating poem is handed down from Goethe, the later "Muth" titled Ice Life Song from 1776. Figure skating stands out, among the sports for the beautiful, for jumps that are not easy to imitate in their perfection. It's not just about leveraging gravity like snowboarding in the halfpipe. This looks set and artificial. Figure skating is sensuality, is fine art.

A good figure skater needs to be able to smell the ice. It can touch and feel like it. Artificial ice in the hall is softer than artificial ice outdoors and quite differently structured than hard, bumpy natural ice. A well-tempered ice surface in an arena is gentle, nestles around the runners - those who can run in this oval at a high level.

It's easy to feel the gentle insertion of the athletes on the ice. Savchenko and Massot produce their own sounds. It is a moment in sport that cannot leave anyone cold. This FS, this gold. What must come together that people are touched by a sport that they did not previously care about? Where does the sport in such a moment its magic?

That half of Germany is talking about a FS in figure skating, was last seen in 1988. Katarina Witt moved at the Olympic Games with a grace to the music of "Carmen" on the ice, that the audience in the hall initially remained silent with admiration. When Witt finally lay on the ice of Calgary, his arms stretched out like a diva, she was ecstatic, much like Torvill and Dean four years earlier. Since then, German figure skaters have tried it again and again –and yet cannot conjure up the magical moment.

When Savchenko and Massot sank onto the ice of Gangneung after their skate, and want to to get stuck on it at this very moment, even the last spectators realize that something unique has happened. The eyes of Savchenko, with whom she focuses her partner, during the entire FS, they never let go.

Shortly after her triumph, she says, "We've made history!" It's a beautiful story, and only part of it was previously known to the many people in the hall and in front of the TVs. Savchenko fought for more than a decade for this Olympic Gold. In 2014 in Sochi, she crashed alongside her then partner Robin Szolkowy and said: "Bronze is sh*t!" Especially since they had occupied this darn third place in 2010 at the Olympic Games in Vancouver. […]

But there is more. There is the visible and tangible fascination of this artistic sport. The jumps, turns, figures, the costumes, the theater – and the fight in the head. Figure skating is a matter of the mind, concentration and body language. Savchenko and Massot are aware of this particular resolve when they arrive just before the final four pairs arrive. Savchenko does not slide, she hacks, as the skaters say, she makes sweeping steps and rustic movements as if she was warming up for a hockey game. "There's room, now I'm coming!" This also illustrates self-confidence and should intimidate the competition. Aliona Savchenko takes the first step towards gold.

When the performance is over, but it still works, the tears come. Aliona Savchenko is crying, Bruno Massot and coach Alexander König – and of course Katarina Witt is crying too. The Gold Kati, which always has to run when there is something to comment in the German figure skating; for decades primarily negative. The sport is in Germany on the ground. There are not enough good offspring in Germany, in the too few ice rink ice hockey and figure skating with the municipalities or private operators, who prefer to hold a public run, argue that it brings more money.

[More about Aljona, when she started with figure skating etc…]
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Article, which focuses on state of figure skating in Germany:
Die triste Wirklichkeit für ein paar Tage verdrängt / The sad reality displaced for a few days by Barbara Klimke
(please click on the link, the journos have to make a living)

The myth of figure skating has long since faded. Nevertheless, Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot manage to stir the masses at the Olympics.

Half-empty halls, no stars, little stars, steadily decreasing interest: this has been the sad reality of figure skating in Germany in recent years. Then on Thursday evening at the party in the “German house” Bruno Massot grabs a Magnum champagne bottle, shakes it vigorously and went in Formula 1 manner on the guests.

It took a just naturalized Frenchman, the famous Alena Savchenko and the world stage Olympia , to shed light on the potential of a faded myth – for at least a few days, as long as the jubilation for the first pair’s OGM in Germany since 1952 continues. Figure skating is a sport that, for its perfection, requires decades of hard training, courage, will and discipline.

Consequently, only the individual artists is illuminated in the spotlight of the success, although the Olympic gold by Savchenko / Massot springs from a pronounced team performance.

Of course, the cooperation of two athletes must harmonize, but the success of the duo is half made by the people behind, those without sequins. Above all, trainer Alexander König, formerly himself a pair’s skater, who managed to unleash Savchenko's creativity while at the same time channeling her immense ambition. König intervened moderately when tension was in the air. There are also choreographers, assistants, physiotherapists, team doctors and costume tailors.

It speaks for the German Skating Union, that four years ago she resisted the temptation to go for an internationally renowned coach abroad as coach for Aljona Savchenko and her new partner. Instead, the couple should create the foundations at local bases. First, you should trust your own coaches, was the motto, after all, they have trained them for such tasks.

Even in an hour of success the sports director has focused on the future, in those days when the Olympic champions do not make more pirouettes. The athletes have devoted all their strength to figure skating for years, he said, now the association must ensure that they can lead a fulfilling life after their careers. This too is an attitude that can be initiated in the hour of success. It does not have to be the champagne shower right away.
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This morning Aljona, Bruno and Alexander König where in the studio, interviewd by Rudi Cerne (4th at Men's in Sarajevo, in the then FS his lutz was elusive, he said, still hunting him ;))
Link (geoblocked):

Bruno is allowed to speak French :cheer2:. They said "Allez", focus on their strength, the FS. Giving-up was never an option. Aljona knew with the first elements, they have a run, she needed to focus until the end and hold her concentration, because she had so much energy. Too much energy might take you right into mistakes.
It was an advantage to be the first on the ice.
Alexander had a hard time at the barrier, because as a coach you know every little detail and movement, you're standing there and you want to sway everything into the right direction, but you can't do a thing, you're utterly helpless.
Aliona talks about the 3Tw4 (around 9'0'''): They worked on it until the last minute. Problem: either there was the split or the arm above, never both. And finally they managed in FS.
Around 10'20'' and 11'08' the team of zdf shows in a split screen the final moments of T/D Bolero and S/M with underlying music La terre vue de ciel. Very interesting. Bolero choreo works with S/M music. Plus epic ending pose on the ice :D IMO T/D's choreo works even better :p
They didn't plan to lay on ice. All stress disapeared suddenly. Aliona: FS ended and she thought, what already finished?
Bruno talks very enthusiastically about minutes after the skate, he's very exited, as almost as he wants to skate right away. With a performance like this, you have the desire (in German we would say "Lust") to do another skate like this, even better. Bruno actually would prefer the SP, because ... well because. The goal is two clean performances.
They are eyeing worlds, start preparations over the coming weeks.
König: After SP there was no tense atmosphere. They were always united as a team. König, Ballester an Skotnicky talked to S/M after SP, encouraged them.
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Rooting for underdogs!
Savchenko - "I cry for three days" (interview in German by Daniel Weiss):
Google translated excerpt:
Savchenko: " Christopher Dean wrote, also our former coach Ingo Steuer has congratulated My ex-partner Robin Szolkowy wrote a long message to me that he, of course, because of his pair was sad. ( N. D. Red. : He supervised the Pair from Russia, who finished fourth), but is very happy for me."

I think the 4 videos at the bottom are geo-blocked?

(I've posted S/M articles in English in this thread :):’s-aljona-savchenko-bruno-massot-rewarded-with-olympic-pairs-gold-articles.103372/ )


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Apropos medals

"I have it in a box on the bedside table and make sure every morning that it's all real. Aljona even has hers in bed," said Massot. [google translate]

Olympic champion Massot alone in training for gala

He trains alone, because Aliona has the flu

He also feels more back pain: "I do not feel relaxed yet. But the pressure has come off and I feel like I'm feeling the pain of four years of training." The doctors advised him to take a three-week break because of his acute disc problems.

This not going to happen right now: Gala, Art on Ice, training for Worlds


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A follow-up from newspaper Süddeutsche on win of OGM
Den Globus verzaubert / The world enchanted

Paragraphs about Szolkowy, and Savchenko/Szolkowy, Aljonas way from Chemnitz to Oberstorf
This season: choreography with Christopher Dean in Colorado

[excerpt, translated by google]
"It was originally planned to follow the Colorado visit to another, to perfect the program. The trip was canceled in the autumn because of scheduling difficulties and the enormous workload of the duo. And so that Oeuvre, which now had its Olympic premiere, has actually become a happy teamwork. Where Christopher Dean left off, Mr. König and his "children" continued with Martin Skotnicky, the national coach for ice dancing at the Oberstdorf base. Skotnicky, meanwhile 70, formed couples like the siblings Duchesnay and thirty years ago also in Oberstdorf on the creation of the "Boleros" of Torvill / Dean participated; he continued Dean's work in his mind. At the world's best FS will be filed to the end of details. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the programs of Sarajevo 1984 and Pyeongchang 2018 not only match their artistic ambitions, but also the color of the costumes is similar.

Skotnicky belonged like head coach König and assistant Jean-François Ballester to that small group, which held after the faulty and finished only with fourth place short program in South Korea military council. At this meeting Aljona Savchenko frolicked the downcast Massot, "fighting like a tiger," so that the "gold medal program," as she calls it, shines in its splendor. The motivation to compete is a team thing."
"The question is, how long will this small artistic cosmos last? Alexander König wants to move back to Berlin, for family reasons, as he says: "Because of Aljona and Bruno, I have attached extra one more year in Oberstdorf." And the Olympic champions? The appearance at the World Championships in Milan in March is firmly planned, after which they want to think about the future. Maybe they just continue to conjure up on the ice. Now that they have finally gained recognition as world-class artists on blades."

On a side note: Martin Skotnicky will retire. Quite understandable, but sad.


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For the record ... crossposting, so everything's is tight and tidy in the right place
Interview with Bruno Massot in Süddeutsche:

"Ich fühle, wie der Druck aus dem Körper kriecht" / "I feel the pressure creeping out of my body"

Bruno about FS: During the skate I said to myself, it's not over, yet, concentrate, it's not over, yet, concentrate, it's not over ...

– He still checks every morning, if gold medal is still there
– Talks about his back, he feels his discs, right down to his knees
– They decide after Worlds, if and how to go on. He likes to be a coach.

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