Robin Szolkowy finished his competitive career as a pair skater by winning a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics and the 2014 World Championships title a few weeks later.
He was always partnered with Aliona Savchenko, who is now competing in her fifth Olympics in 2018 with a new partner. More on how she found French-born Bruno Massot and convinced him to compete for Germany below.
When Szolkowy retired from skating, he didn’t know what he wanted to do next. He took up coaching. He joined the legendary Nina Mozer’s camp in Moscow, and now those he mentors are rivals for Savchenko and Massot. He never expected to return to the next Olympic Games as a coach, especially with a team from Russia.
He doesn’t dwell on the fact that his students, Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, could beat his former partner for a medal.
“I try not to think this way,” he told NBC Olympics. “Aliona is skating, I am coaching. We are on two different teams.”
However, he was quick to point out how happy he is for Savchenko. For example, at a competition in 2016, he instinctively wanted to follow her onto the ice when he saw her warming up — he had to remind himself not to.
As long as the best team wins, Szolkowy will be satisfied with the results. He won’t tolerate any team bringing less than its best to the Olympic ice.
“Aliona winning is fine; the Russians winning is fine, but my heart is a little more with the Russians because I have been training them,” he said before adding, “I am still German. We’d have to see.”
NBC Olympics Research contributed to this report.