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Aliona Savchenko, in fifth Olympic appearance, wins pairs gold with Bruno Massot

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Aliona Savchenko won her first gold medal – in her fifth Olympic appearance – with new partner Bruno Massot. Savchenko won two previous bronze medals in 2010 and 2014, and didn’t expect to continue competing after Sochi.

She now ties the medal record in Olympic pairs skating with three medals: one gold, two bronze. It’s the first-ever Olympic appearance for Bruno Massot.

She found Massot, originally from France, and they teamed to represent Germany. Savchenko and Massot rose from fourth after Tuesday’s short program to win the first pairs’ gold medal for the country since 1952.

In Wednesday’s free skate, they notched the highest score ever recorded under the IJS at 159.31 points for a total score of 235.90 points.

"Today I wrote history," Savchenko said. "This is what counts. It is my moment. We celebrated new year together and we said 2018 will be our year and it became our year."

Massot added: "I got the gold medal in my head. Yesterday I said I don't want her to come back with another bronze medal. She deserved this gold medal."

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who led the field after the short program on Tuesday, slipped to the silver medal position. The 2017 world champions missed training time leading into PyeongChang after Sui needed 12 stitches. They were separated from the gold medal by 0.43 points. It is the first Olympic medal in pairs’ skating for China since the team’s coach, Zhao Hongbo, took gold in 2010.

"I was quite nervous, this being my first Olympic Games," said Sui, already looking ahead to the next Winter Olympics. "We really wanted to do well, but simply fell too short in the end. But I hope that this will give us the motivation we need over the next four years to do well again at the Beijing 2022 Games."

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford from Canada – already gold medalists at these Games from the figure skating team event – took home the bronze. They placed seventh at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, then progressed to win the world title in 2015 and 2016.

Duhamel and Radford are the first Canadian pair team to land on an Olympic podium since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier shared gold with Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze in 2002.

Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, the Olympic Athletes from Russia who sat second after the short program, slipped to fourth after multiple mistakes in the free skate.

North Korean skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik finished with the highest placement for any figure skaters in Olympic history in PyeongChang. They set three personal best scores – in the short program, free skate and overall scores – and finished 13th. Previously, the best-ever finish in any discipline was 18th for a pairs team back in 1992.

“When we heard the crowd cheering we were very excited,” Kim said. “We would like to send our thanks to the South Koreans and our fellow Koreans for cheering us on. We were happy to perform here. It was very good for us.”

The sole American pair team in the field, the married Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, finished in 15th place with 185.82 points. They competed four programs in the span of a week – rare for elite-level skaters – but come away from PyeongChang as Olympic bronze medalists in the team event.

Notably, they became the first U.S. pair to execute a quadruple twist in Olympic competition.

“Unfortunately, too many mistakes today," Scimeca-Knierim said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. "It was one of our lowest scores. I was sick last night and this morning with a normal stomach bug. I had asked Chris to kind of pick up the slack for me today because I knew I was going to be more fatigued, but then my adrenalin kicked in and I rose to the occasion. I think his fatigue might have set in because he was concerned for me.”

Catch in-depth analysis from Olympic Ice about the pairs’ free skate, featuring Kristi Yamaguchi, Charlie White and Ben Agosto.

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