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Controversies, costumes and Sochi: 2014, a review

The year in figure skating gave fans plenty to remember -- and forget
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An Olympic year with no shortage of story lines, 2014 gave the sport of figure skating countless memories, good and bad. -Getty Images

Faster than Johnny Weir can list who and what he's wearing on a particular day, the 2014 year in figure skating is suddenly behind us. From Weir's fashion to the compelling story lines in Sochi, to a U.S. championships full of drama in Boston and everything in between, we look back at the year that was and -- in some cases -- wasn't.

Best Performance: Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Sochi Olympic Winter Games

Four years after coming up short at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games to rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (more on their head-to-head later), the American duo rose to the top, thanks in part to their 18 years together -- and their flawless programs. "It's something you dream about," White said after the win. "To make it happen is a tribute to our partnership."

Read: Hail to the victors! Davis, White win Olympic gold

Honorable Mention: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, Sochi Olympic Winter Games

"It was our obligation to bring gold back to Russia," Trankov said after the win. "The whole country was expecting that."

Read: Volosozhar, Trankov reclaim pairs throne for Russia
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Best Free Skate: Jason Brown, 2014 U.S. Championships

No other four minutes of figure skating were more watched or more talked about in the U.S. in 2014 than Brown's delivery of the Riverdance routine, which brought the TD Garden crowd (and TV audience) to their feet. Brown's free skate was viewed over 4 million times on YouTube, but more importantly, his no-fall, steely delivery booked him a come-from-behind spot on Team USA's Sochi team. Did anyone think that would be realistic in, say, September? Not at all. 

Watch: Brown's 2014 U.S. Championships Free Skate 

Honorable Mention: Mao Asada, Sochi Olympic Winter Games

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try (hey, we'll go for a triple) again.
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Best Short Program: Yu-Na Kim, Sochi Olympic Winter Games

Looking lethargic in her practice sessions in Sochi, the whispers were rampant: "Did Yu-Na Kim even want to be here?" But her melancholy approach fit her "Send in the Clowns" short program, and the reigning Olympic gold medalist reminded us all of her brilliance by delivering a near-perfect program. She would (at least for one night) reign again as Queen Yu-Na. 

Honorable Mention: Jeremy Abbott, 2014 U.S. Championships

"I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks," Abbott said afterward, smiling wryly. "This is a night I'll never forget."

Watch: Abbott's 2014 U.S. Champs Short Program 

Also: Yuzuru Hanyu, Sochi Olympic Winter Games

Yuzu! The quad! The grace. It was epic. It was triple digits.

Photos: Olympic men's free skate
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Breakout Star: Jason Brown, 2014 U.S. Championships

Figure skating fans were well aware of the authentic, "Energizer Bunny" known as Jason Brown before Boston, but the general public sure wasn't. Between his U.S. championships free skate and Sochi, Jason's name became one of household chatter, or at the very least, people knew who "that ponytail guy" or "the Riverdance dude" was.

Read: Brown's presence enriched skating world in 2013-14

Honorable Mention: Julia Lipnitskaia, Sochi Olympic Winter Games team event

If Jason was being identified by his ponytail and program, Julia Lipnitksaia emerged as the "girl who could stick her leg over her head" as she captivated Russia -- and the world -- during the team event.

Photos: Olympic team event: Final day
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Best Team: Russia

The hosts pulled out all the stops in front of a crowd inside the Iceberg Skating Palace that was more akin to a European soccer match than an event in the Olympic Winter Games. "Ross-Si-Ya!" was the cry, and the cry was heard. Russian figure skating was king (and queen) again.

Honorable Mention: Canada

Kevin Reynolds and Kaetlyn Osmond have Olympic silver medals? Why yes. Yes, they do.
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Best Costume: Mao Asada, Sochi Olympic Winter Games short program

You can't blame Mao if she burned this baby upon taking it off in Sochi (she fell twice and was 16th after the short), but this lavender work of genius was simply stunning on the Sochi ice, providing a graceful veil of the athletic power the Japanese star possesses. Triple Axel or not, this girl does purple -- really, really well.

Photos: Olympic ladies short program

Honorable Mention: Johnny Weir, Um… Everyday?

Johnny's Instagram feed became a daily look book, which fans flocked to in the thousands. The best in show of all Weir's sequins, stilettos and one-look stunners?

Also: Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, Sochi Olympic Winter Games free dance

Those Black Swan costumes? Move over, Natalie Portman.

Photos: Olympic free dance
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Worst Costume: Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi, Sochi Olympic Winter Games free skate

The sweater. The glasses. The whole get-up. It just didn't work. At all.

Dishonorable Mention: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Sochi Olympic Winter Games free skate

Two words: Pink Panther.

Photos: Olympic pairs free skate
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Worst Fall: Jeremy Abbott, Sochi Olympic Winter Games short program

It was a nightmarish performance for Abbott in the men's individual short, as he appeared to soar almost sideways in mid-air as he crashed into the boards on his opening quad. Abbott lay there as his "Lilies of the Valley" music played on, with coach Yuka Sato simply peering ahead as he winced in pain. Never a quitter, Jeremy got up, but it may have been the hardest hit -- sorry, hockey! -- of the Winter Games.

Photos: Olympic men's short

Honorable Mention: Mao Asada, Sochi Olympic Winter Games short program

A bad miss and a horrific short program were only saved by her brilliance in the free.
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Worst Crash: Yuzuru Hanyu and Han Yan, Cup of China

Figure skating practice collisions have a storied past, but this one is one of the worst. Warming up for the men's free skate at the Cup of China with their backs turned toward one another, Hanyu and Yan crashed into one another at full speed, with each sprawling onto the ice after impact. Though they ended up OK, it was as scary of a moment as any on the ice in 2014.

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Most Shocking Breakup: Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, ice dance

Ilinykh and Katsalapov brought the house down as much as any other Russian skaters during the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, with the arena rocking for their Black Swan free dance that helped vault them to the bronze medal. However, rumors were already swirling that things weren't peachy in swan land, and after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the world championships, it was day done for these two.

Read: Split after worlds? Ilinykh, Katsalapov stay mum

Not-So-Shocking Breakup: Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, pairs

No figure skating insider batted an eye at the news of Castelli and Shnapir's breakup. They had been publicly open about their barely functional working relationship, calling it quits after a decent showing in Sochi.

Read: Castelli, Shnapir get off 'emotional roller coaster'
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Biggest Upset: Adelina Sotnikova's Olympic Winter Games gold medal

No other story rocked the figure skating world more than this one in 2014, the script laden with all the makings of an afternoon movie on Lifetime. When it was the 17-year-old that was in better jockeying position than the lithe Lipnitskaia after the short program, whispers began in full about a coup de ice, much similar to the infamous 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games scandal. Yet, Sotnikova delivered (the Grades of Execution, well, those are another story), staying on her feet in front of a home crowd and setting herself up for Russia's first gold medal in ladies' figure skating -- get this -- ever. All-out pandemonium rang out.

Read: Checking the math: Should Sotnikova have won?
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Most Shocking Withdrawal: Evgeni Plushenko, Sochi Olympic Winter Games

Did Plushenko know he was injured before that now-infamous, six-minute warmup? Or was that when it all ended? Plushenko skated to the judge's panel to issue his withdrawal, leaving the men's event without a Russian skater for the first time ... ever? Plushenko was blasted in the Russian press, called a quitter and derided for not giving teenager Maxim Kovtun (who had bested him at the Russian championships in December) a chance at Olympic glory.

Read: Plushenko withdraws, takes final bows on career
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Biggest Controversy: Adelina Sotnikova's Olympic gold medal

Was it? Or was it not? Much of what we discussed above ran rampant for the remainder of the Games, and the weeks thereafter. Adelina herself was protected in a bubble of admiration in Russia, her coaches taking the swings and blasting the critics. "We were following the rules that the modern game was offering, and we won this game," Sotnikova's choreographer, Pyotr Chernyshov, a former ice dancer, said. Yu-Na herself, breaking into tears in her exit interviews with the press, just seemed to want it all to be over. Could you blame her?

Dishonorable Mention: Ashley Wagner's Team USA Olympic selection

Arms were raised, questionable columns penned, but in the end, it was Nagasu who gave a teary-eyed nod to Wagner going to Sochi and Wagner breaking into tears of her own at the selection press conference, "I'm at a loss at what to say right now. It's been a really hard four years and I've been working really hard."
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Best Career Move: Meryl Davis, Dancing With the Stars

It never hurts to win one TV dance competition just months after securing another on national TV, especially when those two events happen to be the Olympics and the popular show Dancing With the Stars. Davis did just that, becoming a darling of the show while rumors swirled that she and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy were dating, something they both categorically denied week in and week out. Davis became even more of a household name, upping her celebrity quotient and finding her way into demographics that figure skating has never dreamed of touching. So, what's next, Meryl?

Read: Davis, Chmerkovskiy win 'Dancing with the Stars'

Honorable mention: Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, NBC Sports Commentators/Fashionistas

When you walk away from the Olympic Games as the biggest stars of the two-week event and you didn't even compete in any events, well, you did something right.

Read: Broadcast dream team reunites at Skate America
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Best Comeback: Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, 2014-15 Grand Prix Series

Can an 18-year-old with zero Olympic experience and a single 10th-place finish at the world championships finish the year as the strongest in the sport heading into 2015? It seems so.

Read: Tuktamisheva fights fatigue to take title in Spain

Honorable Mention: Carolina Kostner, Sochi Winter Olympic Games

A bronze medal as a lifetime achievement award? Hardly. She earned it.
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Best Rivalry: Davis & White vs. Virtue & Moir, Everywhere

From the suburban rink of Canton, Michigan, to the Iceberg Skating Palace, the Meryl and Charlie vs. Tessa and Scott drama was of epic proportions. Only in figure skating could you have the two best teams in the world training side by side, sharing a coach. But after Meryl and Charlie won gold, the Canadians lashed out (somewhat understandably), saying that Marina Zoueva had shifted her focus to Team USA and that they felt abandoned. "We sometimes felt like [Zoueva] wasn't in our corner," Moir said in a contentious press conference after the ice dancing event had concluded. As for Meryl and Charlie, it was all smiles. But could you blame them: They had won gold.

Best Blast From the Past: The Nancy-Tonya Documentaries, NBC and ESPN

Twenty years on (20!) there it all was again: The cries of "Why?! Why?!" the early-90s hair (brilliant), the saga that captivated the world -- it played out one more time on a cringe-worthy anniversary.