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What to Know About German Pair Skaters and Gold Medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot

4 minute read

After appearing in no fewer than five different Winter Olympics, German pair skater Aljona Savchenko at last took home a gold in her event this week. It was an emotional moment for the Ukrainian-born Savchenko, now 34 — and for her partner, French-born Bruno Massot, who helped lift her to that long-elusive prize at the PyeongChang Games. (She had previously snagged bronze medals in previous Olympics.) Here’s what you should know about the two who can now claim their place at the top of the pair skating ranks.

When did Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot start skating together?

The two teamed up in 2014, both with prior experience with other partners and plenty of wins under their belts. Massot still needed to get permission from his native France to represent Germany, which he ultimately received in 2015; Savchenko had passed her citizenship test years before.

“You need trust in the pair, trust is everything in pairs skating,” Savchenko has said of her partnership. “It is the differences in technique that make a pair, so you have to make sure your techniques work for both and not just one of you. That is the hardest part of skating as a pair.” And as for their particular chemistry? “Everything takes a lot of time with a new pair, but we were really lucky,” Savchenko says of their connection. “It was amazing we had a feeling that we had been skating our whole life together.”

What was their winning program?

The duo danced to Caro Emerald’s “That Man” for their short program, a disappointing performance in which Massot fell short on one of his jumps, costing them points. But they came back strong in their free skate with Armand Amar’s haunting, emotional “La Terre vue du ciel,” impressing viewers with their effortless synchronicity and technically challenging throws and steps. Their score on the free skate even bested their own world record. “We have nothing to lose and we will fight like tigers,” Savchenko told reporters about their mindset going in to the final round. “That was fearless,” commentator Tara Lipinski noted as the pair fell to the ice after finishing flawlessly. “They gave a gold medal performance.”

Who else has Aljona Savchenko partnered with?

Savchenko started skating when she was just a child, and discovered pairs skating when she was 13. She first competed in the Olympics for Ukraine with Stanislav Morozov in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City; they came in 15th place. Savchenko was then paired with Robin Szolkowy, which turned out to be a winning combo. They appeared at three different Olympics together representing Germany, ultimately winning bronzes in 2010 and 2014, as well as claiming world champion titles five times over. Although they had elected to go their separate ways by 2018, Szolkowy was indeed at the rink in PyeongChang when he saw his former partner find her elusive gold. He was coaching Savchenko’s competitors from Russia, Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

Is Aliona Savchenko married?

Savchenko tied the knot with long-term boyfriend Liam Cross, an artist, in a 2016 ceremony in Germany with views of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. Apparently, she elected to keep her last name for this Olympics. He seems to enjoy creating illustrations of his wife’s moves on ice, as evidenced on his Instagram.

Is Bruno Massot married?

Massot, who’s 29, proposed to his girlfriend Sophie Levaufre back in 2015; since then, she’s appeared in more than a few of his Instagram photos. They certainly seem to be happily in love.



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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com