German skaters ordered to end ties with coach

BERLIN -- Figure skaters Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy refused Thursday to drop their controversial coach despite threats from the German figure skating federation.

The federation warned the former European Championships silver medalists their contracts would be terminated and they would be shut out of international competitions if Ingo Steuer remained
their coach.

Steuer was dropped by the Germans because of alleged ties to the
former East Germany's secret police.

"It is just as hard as it sounds," said the pair's lawyer,
Karla Vogt-Roeller. "The athletes won't accept it like that."

Steuer caused a flap when he won a court injunction to coach at
the Torino Olympics in February. Savchenko threatened to boycott if
she was forced to skate without the German, but later back down.

Savchenko and Szolkowy finished sixth in pairs at Torino.