After a fifth Olympic game, Aliona Savchenko finally won her first-ever Olympic gold medal!
Aliona is a Ukranian born pairs skater who now represents Germany. Her interest in figure skating started after she saw it on the television and began skating at the age of five. She used to practice on a lake with her father, but later convinced her parents to let her skate at a rink 31 miles away. Her trip to the rink took her two hours by bus and she’d arrive at four in the morning to practice. Aliona didn’t start pairs skating until the age of 13 when she saw other skaters and decided that she was interested in the athleticism in the sport.
Aliona did not always represent Germany, she started out representing Ukraine but soon realized the country lacked support for skaters. She relocated to Germany and has found it to be more successful in her career. After she found a partner in Robin Szolkowy, they trained twice a day, six days a week. Right before the 2006 Winter Olympics, Aliona was granted German citizenship, which allowed her to compete at the games. In her first Olympic games, she and her partner placed 6th. Four years later, they competed at the games again in Vancouver and placed 3rd, this being her first Olympic medal. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, she earned another bronze medal with partner Szolkowy. After competing in the 2014 World Championships, Szolkowy retired from competition leaving Savchenko partnerless.
After all of this, Savchenko decided to continue competing. She found a partner in French skater, Bruno Massot. The pair had to decide which individual would change their country, they both represented two different countries which refrained them from competing internationally. Savchenko preferred to continue skating for Germany, while Massot preferred his country of France. The pair decided they would skate for Germany, but the French Figure Skating Federation (FFSG) refused to release Massot which would allow him to skate for Germany. The FFSG demanded 70,000 euros for his release, this price was later dropped to 30,000 euros. About a year later, Massot was released from the reigns of France to skate for Germany, allowing him and his partner to compete internationally.
In November 2016, Aliona tore a ligament in her right ankle during the free skate. She continued to skate because there was a chance of a medal in the near future. Her partner also pushed her to keep going, not physically, but she thought of them as one. She pushed to recover and to be well enough for competition. She stated that if someone were alone and had an injury they might want to give up, but there was still another half that was competing for her. It took a few months for her to fully recover, which resulted in her and Massot withdrawing from a few competitions.
Massot received his German citizenship in November 2017, which allowed the pair to compete for Germany in the 2018 Winter Olympics. In February 2018, the pair won a gold medal, this being Savchenko’s third Olympic medal and her fifth Olympic game. This was a first Olympic game for Massot and what a victorious one at that! A few records were broken that day, they had a score of 159.31 in the free skate which is a new world record and Savchenko being 34 years of age has become the oldest woman to win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating.
Aliona Savchenko is an inspiration to us all. Through all of the hardships and obstacles she has faced in her Olympic career, she still pushed on to achieve her dreams. She has spent 29 years of her life training for the moment she could stand on that podium with her partner being medalled with a gold at the Olympics. For her, that dream came true through all of her hard work and dedication to the sport. I can’t even begin to imagine what training for six days a week feels like and training twice a day at that. The only thing I do twice a day is brushing my teeth, yet here she is training for an endless amount of hours. On average, most people only brush their teeth once a day. Enough with the tangent, back to Aliona Savchenko.
She inspires us all to be our best and to not sell ourselves short. She lost her longtime skating partner and she knew that that wasn’t the end for her. She wanted to continue to compete, to reach the dream she had as a young child. Savchenko even after getting a new partner, she had to reinvent her skating style. They were two new people becoming one. Her success was not by chance, nor by luck. It came from hard work, learning, sacrifices and most of all the love she had for what she was doing. That’s something we can all take away from her career. We have to want the end result and we also have to enjoy it while we’re trying to achieve it. It won’t be an easy or straightforward path, but if we have the courage to try and the perseverance to follow our dream then who knows, we might be successful. Not all of us are Olympic athletes, but we should all have the mentality of one. To dream big and train hard for whatever it is we want in life. A lot of us are athletes, just because you’re not reaching for an Olympic gold doesn’t mean you can’t think like one. Think about why you started your athletic journey in the first place. Most likely, it’s because it is something you love, the sport, the sore feeling, being productive, being active, living a healthy life, there are a lot of reasons why you could be active. Sometimes if it’s been years, we lose our spark, we just need a little reminding once in a while that we chose to do this, we chose this lifestyle. If you want that gold or to be able to lift that weight, we have to keep pushing ourselves through the rough patches.