Volosozhar and Trankov throw down the gauntlet at Nebelhorn

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Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, the reigning world champions in pairs figure skating, looked nearly unbeatable at the Nebelhorn Trophy, currently underway in Oberstdorf, Germany. In their free skate on Friday, the Russian duo solidified its position as the gold medal favorite for a home Olympics in February. They beat the rest of the field by 57.08 points overall. (To put that number in perspective, last year they won this competition by 17.65 points.) 

As a smaller international competition, the Nebelhorn Trophy scores don’t factor into the International Skating Union’s official list of the highest scores ever recorded. If they did, however, Volosozhar and Trankov would have surpassed the current top scores in the short program, free skate, and total score. Nebelhorn marks do count in the record of the skaters’ personal bests; in that regard, the team topped all of their previous high scores.

 Volosozhar and Trankov went undefeated last season, finishing off the year with a win over German rivals Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy at the World Championships. While the German team has traditionally been their strongest source of competition, Volosozhar and Trankov have looked increasingly dominant as of late.

The Russians’ free skate is set to music from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar, with the skaters playing the roles of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Trankov told the Russian press this summer that he sees himself as more of the television version of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the stage version’s, and that he’s not planning on growing out a beard for the role.

The Nebelhorn Trophy is the last chance for countries who haven’t yet qualified for Olympic spots to earn entries to the Winter Games. The event also marks the return of two-time world champion Miki Ando of Japan, who gave birth to a daughter in April. Also of note are the senior debuts of two talented young singles skaters: 2013 World Junior Champion Yelena Radyonova, 14, of Russia and Jason Brown, 19, of the United States.  Radyonova is in first place after the ladies’ short program, and Brown is second after the men’s.