Subtlety not a strong point for Russian skater

NICK MILLER IN SOCHI
Last updated 09:07 13/02/2014

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Russian figure skater Maxim Trankov isn't one for subtlety, clearly. Anyway, it's not what the home crowd wanted.

With the immodest strains of Jesus Christ Superstar fading in the echoes around the Iceberg Skating Palace, he punched both fists in the air, then slid on the ice towards the crowd on both knees, hands aloft, his white piratey shirtsleeves flapping in the breeze.

"Nailed it! Totally nailed it!" said his body language, in the universal language of totally nailing it.

The capacity crowd screamed back "Ra-si-ya, Ra-si-ya", flowers flying onto the rink, flags waving.

Behind him Tatiana Volosozhar, Trankov's partner in the pairs free skate, put both hands over her mouth.

"Oh my God I can't believe how great that routine just was," her pose suggested.

Some experts in the media ranks thought it had been a little ragged, especially compared to their world record-breaking short skate the day before.

But with that score in the bag they hadn't needed perfection, they just needed to avoid polishing the ice with their bottoms (as many other pairs had earlier in the night, as the pressure got to them). Which they did.

A great score wasn't required, just a good one.

Screw that, thought the judges, and awarded this seemingly effortless, soaring performance a huge score that would require a miracle to beat from the last two pairs from China and Germany.

In the end both challengers buckled under the pressure. China's Les-Mis-soundtracked routine got off to a bad start and didn't improve fast enough. Then German Robin Szolkowy hit the ice after a triple toeloop, and his parter Aliona Savchenko mucked up the big triple salchow finish.

With Szolkowy on the ice, a murmur went around the stadium as the home crowd knew it was in the bag.

It was Russia gold, Russia silver, and Germany bronze.

Trankov and Volosozhar had become the first figure skaters to grab two gold medals in the same Olympics, after sharing in Russia's team win two days earlier.

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took the silver with a quirky routine that couldn't have been more unlike the winners' in character (to the tune of the Addams Family), but was full of sublime unison and some impressive hanging-upside-down-while skating-along.

After the flower ceremony the Russians embraced on the ice.

They wanted this, especially after the country's shame in failing to take home any pairs medal in 2010.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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