But after finding a new partner in Bruno Massot, Savchenko made the trip to Pyeongchang determined to make her fifth Olympics her best ever.
It also took Bruno Massot lifting her to the top step of the podium.
The duo were competing in Thursday's free skate and were left just outside the medal places in fourth overnight before scoring 159.31 points to break the record and snatch the gold from China by 0.43 points.
Silver went to China's reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong and bronze to Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. She said: 'It is not finished. They set three personal best scores - in the short program, free skate and overall scores - and finished 13th.
After the first round of the pairs figure skating competition, Savchenko and Massot were in fourth place.
"When we heard the crowd cheering we were very excited", Kim said.
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"We were in an environment where we were comfortable, feeling like we were home", Duhamel said, referring to the arena, the ice itself, perhaps everything about these Olympics. "We didn't let it faze us".
For a year and a half he found himself stranded in a skating no-man's land - ineligible to compete, with no funding, until finally he got the call he'd been praying for from French skating rulers to say they had relented. "Now it's our turn'". Two more couples would skate, and while the Canadians were behind the Germans, they had a shot at silver or bronze.
When the music stopped, Savchenko lay on the ice gasping for air.
Their electric free dance gave them a winning combined total of 235.90.
They caught up and flew right by. "If today I'm here celebrating gold, maybe it's because of this". "We were ready for this".
With Szolkowy leaving the stage she turned to Massot, who moved to Germany and received German citizenship only last November.
Slovakia STUNS the Russians and USA falls to Slovenia ....Rumors to come
This one's over and done with. "And we've got to start figuring out how to get the energy we need to be ready for the next game". It's only been 26 years between gold medals and that 1992 Unified Team wasn't exactly known as Russian , either.
After their flawless performance, Savchenko and Massot had to wait anxiously as three more pairs took the ice.
Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation who sat second after the short program, slipped to fourth after multiple mistakes in the free skate.
Yesterday I said I don't want her to come back with another bronze medal. Mikaela Shiffrin's giant slalom win on Thursday was gold medal No. 101 for the USA all-time in the Winter Olympics.
"I was quite nervous, this being my first Olympic Games", Sui said.
The rest of their program didn't go almost as well.
Gold to Savchenko-Massot; bronze to Duhamel-Radford in their final competition.
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"Unfortunately, too many mistakes today", Scimeca-Knierim said, according to U.S. Figure Skating.