Pairs figure skating, what an elegant sport! But it’s also quite dangerous.
The skaters are racing around the rink, sometimes at as much as 15 to 20 miles per hour, lifting each other, throwing each other, spinning closely to each other. Their equipment are essentially boots attached to ginsu knives, gliding on slippery blocks of ice. People get hurt.
As the pairs competition kicks off today, let’s take a look at some of the most well-known pairs figure skating tragedies. Thank you, YouTube for giving us the chance to educate the public on these performances.
If you’re into schadenfruede, this is the post for you. For those of with a conscience, these stories also are testaments to the athleticism of pairs figure skating and the fortitude of these four teams. In life, everyone falls. But they got back up.
4) Germany’s Mandy Woetzel and Ingo Stueur at the 1994 Olympics:
The elegant German pair were in a respectable eighth place in a tough pairs field in Lillehammer before entering the final. But Woetzel fell in a rut on the ice, and ended up with a bad cut on her chin. While there is no crying in baseball, there is occasionally blood in figure skating. Stueur ended up having to carry his partner off the ice. But they stayed together and eventually captured the 1997 World Championship. Stueur is now coaching German pair Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who are challengers for the gold in Sochi.
3) Canada’s Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison at the 2007 Four Continents Championship:
The Canadian pair was known for their elegance, unison and just how closely they would spin next to each other. In this event, though, Dube and Davison were a little too close. Davison’s blade scraped his partner’s cheek, requiring 83 stitches to put her face back together. Ouch. The next year, they were bronze medalists at the World Championships.
2) Russia’s Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin at 2004 Skate America:
They were a powerful team building momentum in the pairs figure skating world when this blunder happened. The program was going well, until Marinin tried to lift his partner while making a circle of the ice. Marinin caught an edge, and Totmianina fell on her head. She could hardly move after the fall. They stayed together. After this disappointment, they won their second world championship in 2005. And then the gold medal at the 2006 Olympics:
1) China’s Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang at the 2006 Olympics:
I’ll never forget this one. Zhang and Zhang (no relation) attempted to become the first team to land the dangerous quadruple salchow jump in competition. Hao throw Dan a little wildly, and she ended up crashing into the boards. It was terrifying. But somehow, miraculously, they finished the program and ended up in second place!