13 for '13: Top headlines from past year run gamutList includes surprise birth, marriage proposal, high fashion in Omaha
The most-viewed articles on icenetwork in 2013 had a little bit of everything: a surprise birth, a marriage proposal ... and even some skating. Here now are the 13 most popular articles posted on icenetwork in the past 12 months.
(For the sake of eliminating redundancy, certain articles have been omitted.)
No one knew how a two-year layoff from major competition would affect Yu-Na Kim at the 2013 World Championships. The Korean megastar showed she hadn't missed a beat with a couple of skates for the ages, ones that elevated her to a status very few, in any, in the sport have attained. Her flawless jump combinations, pinpoint step sequences and near-record scores brought flooding back the memories of Vancouver, where Kim entered into legend with arguably the most dominating figure skating performance in Olympic history. She showed her human side on the awards podium, shedding a tear when she received her medal, but the rest of the time in London, Ontario, she was all business, carrying out her assignment like a cold-blooded mercenary. Mission accomplished.
The senior ladies free skate at the 2013 U.S. Championships was as much about what did happen as what almost happened. Finding herself more than 13 points out of first place after the short program, Gracie Gold completed a free skate that included seven clean triple jumps, vaulting her into first with seven skaters to go. She was still in that position when short program leader Ashley Wagner -- the penultimate skater in the event -- took the ice. A shaky performance left doubt in the eyes of many as to whether she would remain in first. When the scores came out, they revealed Wagner had done just enough to retain her title. While it was Wagner who won the gold, it was Gold who won the day.
In a piece of news that seemed lifted straight out of the tabloids, Japanese media broke the news in July that two-time world champion Miki Ando of Japan had given birth to a daughter three months prior. Adding to the intrigue was the fact that the identity of the baby's father wasn't known at the time, and still isn't. Amazingly, a little more than six months after the child, named Himawari, was born, Ando stepped on the ice and competed at the Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria, where she finished second. She repeated that placement at Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia, and will next compete at her country's national championships. A trip to Sochi seems like a long shot, but, as we've seen, Ando is full of surprises.
Love is a universal theme, so it's no surprise that the fourth most-viewed article of the year was about an engagement. Pairs skaters Rockne Brubaker of the U.S. and Italy's Stefania Berton had been dating less than a year before Brubaker popped the question. "Neither of us has ever been happier than we are now," Brubaker said. That wasn't the only bit of news that took people by surprise in the article, however: It also came to light that Wesley Campbell and Jonathan Cassar -- two skaters who had become fan favorites in the U.S. over their lengthy careers -- were retiring from competition.
Skaters like to keep their program music under tight wraps for as long as possible, so when news outlets receive wind of this information, it's like striking gold. That's what happened when Klaus-Reinhold Kany paid a visit to the Arctic Edge in Canton, Mich., to observe the summer training of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, among others. While at the rink, the Canadian ice dancers agreed to give icenetwork the exclusive scoop on what they would be skating to in 2013-14 -- a jazzy, ballroom-themed short and a free to selections from Russian composers Alexander Glazunov and Alexander Scriabin. We here at icenetwork can be good at keeping secrets when we want to -- this was not one of those times.
In most of her dealings with the media throughout her career, Alissa Czisny has come off as guarded and reticent, careful to never reveal too much about herself. That changed in an interview with Vladislav Luchianov, published just after the first of the year. In the interview, she spoke about the frustration she felt while trying to skate through a previously undiagnosed medical condition, saying, "It is hard to face the possibility of not knowing or understanding what went wrong, when you know that you tried to do everything right." Her most profound statements, however, may have come when reflecting on the role sport plays in an athlete's life: "Skating is only a sport, a game we play for a short duration of our lives, and it is not everything in life! We may fail or we may succeed -- and most likely, we will do some of each -- yet, ultimately, our results should not and cannot determine who we are inside." This was Alissa Czisny like we had never seen, or heard, her before.
The path Max Aaron took just to get to the U.S. championships -- never mind the top of the senior men's podium -- was a roundabout one. He started his season by winning the inaugural U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City and followed that up with a silver-medal finish at the Cup of Nice. Because he came in just eighth at the previous season's U.S. championships, he had to go through his sectional championships (Midwestern, where he placed first) just to make it to Omaha. (Notice there are no Grand Prix events mentioned here.) But once he got to Nebraska, none of that mattered, as he put together a spectacular free skate -- one that included two quads and six triples -- to lift him from fourth after the short to first overall, making him one of the unlikeliest national champions in memory. Sometimes, taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.
It shouldn't be surprising that the 84-year-old John Nicks wanted to take a step back from his coaching duties; the man, after all, had earned the right to take a break. The part that raised eyebrows was that he was largely responsible for reviving the career of reigning two-time U.S. champion Wagner, who was about to start preparing for the most important season of her career. The initial shock was greater than the reality: Nicks was still going to coach Wagner; he just wouldn't travel with her to competitions. She later took up with Rafael Arutunian, and she has barely missed a beat, winning gold, silver and bronze in her three events this fall. Nicks isn't expected to be in Boston for next's month's U.S. championships, but his influence will be felt at or near the top of the senior ladies standings.
Call him Rockne Page Views, as the two-time U.S. pairs champion makes his second appearance on the list. After an abrupt break-up with previous partner Mary Beth Marley, and without having found a suitable partner, Brubaker resigned himself to the fact that he'd have to sit out the 2012-13 season. Fast forward to February, when, after placing fourth at the 2013 U.S. Championships with Mark Ladwig, Lindsay Davis found herself available, having split with Ladwig shortly after nationals. Enter Brubaker, who swooped in to grab the free agent Davis. The tryout went as well as can be expected -- "It was the best tryout I ever had," Davis said -- and the two joined forces. The results have not been encouraging, but as the page views show, there will always be interest when Rockne Brubaker makes a move.
Let us preface this by saying we here at icenetwork love Grant Hochstein. Ever since he was gracious enough to agree to a video interview with us at Champs Camp a few years ago, we have always had a soft spot in our hearts for Grant. But -- and we're just speculating here -- the reason this article received so much interest is not Hochstein's winning the short program at Skate Detroit but the update on the off-seasons of Brian Orser's two prize pupils, Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernández. The latter had gone to Japan to skate in some shows the former had headlined, and Orser was singing both of their praises, noting that Hanyu had landed a quad and four successive triple Axels in one of the show's encores. "It was insane," Orser said. As insane as the quad toe-triple toe with which Hochstein opened his short program? Too close to call.
One of our most popular annual features, Sarah and Drew's "best-dressed" list from the 2013 U.S. Championships contained the bloggers' top picks in fashion and style -- both on and off the ice. Among the things we learned …
- Mark Mitchell doesn't wear green at competitions because "it's bad luck"
- Timothy LeDuc is a two-time winner in the "Senior Pairs" category
- The "Best use of purple on a man" distinction is also known as the "Drew Meekins" award
- Evan Lysacek can dress. Day, night, casual, formal -- doesn't matter. The man has style.
- Mitchell borrowed the tie Igor Shpilband wore during the senior free dance for the men's free skate because it complemented the costume his skater, Ross Miner, wore so well.
- If your name was Karen (or some alternate spelling), you were probably a finalist in the best-dressed coach category.
The third consecutive world title for Patrick Chan came in perhaps the least dominating fashion of the three, and was certainly the most controversial. Skating in his home country, Chan performed a brilliant short program, posting a then world-record score of 98.37 in the segment. With a lead of almost seven points and the lightly regarded Denis Ten the only one in sight, it was assumed Chan would cruise home and win the gold. But in what could truly be called the performance of a lifetime, Ten executed a near-perfect free skate to put pressure on the leader. Chan's free skate started well enough, with a quad combination followed by another quad, but it was downhill from there, as he fell on his next two jumping passes and later doubled a Lutz. In the end, the Canadian did just enough to fend off his challenger and earn a 1.30-point win, but it was the upstart Kazakhstani who made fans sit up and take notice.
The latest chapter in skating's best rivalry was written at the 2013 World Championships, and it had a happy ending for Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The Americans took home their second world title in three years, besting Canadians Virtue and Moir in their home country by a relatively comfortable 4.52 points. Neither team made any real errors and both skated their programs exquisitely -- it just came down to which team the judges preferred. That is almost always the case when these couples face off, as they are both undeniably brilliant in their own way and are almost always on top of their games. Their contrasting styles certainly appeal to particular tastes, and to get the devotees of one to speak favorably about the other may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is almost universally agreed upon that ice dance wouldn't be what it is without these two continually pushing not only each other but the boundaries of the sport.