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Friday, February 28, 2014

Grays Sports Almanac 2000-2050: Savchenko & Joubert (Pairs Team)

An unlikely match?
After Worlds 2014 and the retirement of Robin Szolkowy, Aliona Savchenko was actively
looking for a partner to continue her competitive skating career.

Brian Joubert, although having effectively retired from singles skating, had in the past often hinted at wanting to take up Pairs skating. After secret try outs in the summer of 2014, Aliona and Brian teamed up with the goal to make the podium at the 2018 Olympics.

There was much speculation as to which country the newly formed pair was to represent. Although Brian Joubert did not go to the 2014 Worlds, which would have made a participation for Germany in 2015 possible, both ultimately decided to represent France.

One of the reasons being that Brian just couldn't see himself competing for Germany, rumor has it that his team mates were already teasing him calling him "Herr Schubert".

At first, both skaters were a little worried about possible objections and meddling from the French Federation, but everything turned out fine after Didier became the new ISU president in 2016.

For personal and professional reasons, the new team decided to split their training time between Poitiers, Chemnitz, and Moscow. While Steuer would be their primary Pairs coach, Brian still wanted Veronique Guyon to remain one of his coaches and also insisted on occasional workshops with Nikolai Morozov.

Due to technical restrictions, Brian and Aliona did not compete internationally during the 2014/2015 season. Over the following seasons, they continually improved, until they were serious podium contenders again. The Olympic season 2017/2018 was rapidly approaching.

After much anticipation, it was revealed that they would skate their free programme to Moonlight Sonata in a version by Rieu. Ingo Steuer had been harboring this idea for years, it was supposed to be their grand artistic triumph.

Another surprise was their new Dirty Dancing short programme choreographed by N. Morozov. It featured all vocals versions of The Time of my life and She's like the Wind. Aljona took complete charge of the costume design.

However, the Grand Prix season did not start off very promising. At the Trophée Bompard they made unusual mistakes during the freeskate, and were beaten handily by their rivals Plushenko/Mukhortova. Nationals as well as Europeans turned out to be relative disappointments, too. As the team was rapidly loosing momentum, they knew something had to change.

Shortly before the Olympics, they decided to drop the Moonlight Sonata long programme and, as per suggestion of Joubert's mother, switched to a new programme to the music of The Matrix, with Steuer putting together the choreography in a last minute effort.

[The rest of the page has unfortunately been torn off, references and result lists seem to be missing]

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