Ice Network

14 for '14: The most-read stories of the past year

Skaters on the dance floor, suprising breakups and, oh yeah, the Olympics
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Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov's shocking breakup, Meryl Davis' run to the mirror ball trophy on 'Dancing with the Stars' and Adelina Sotnikova's controversial win over Yu-Na Kim in Sochi were major stories in skating in 2014. -icenetwork

In an Olympic year, it should come as no surprise that the majority of our top stories are in some way related to the Sochi Winter Games. Here now are icenetwork's 14 most-read articles from 2014.

1. 'DWTS' champ Hough sets stage for Davis, White

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/01/02/66215612

When Derek Hough received the request to work with Meryl Davis and Charlie White on their short dance, he nearly declined. His decision to work with them paid huge dividends.

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Davis and White's openness to learning impressed Hough greatly.

"That's why they're champions," Hough said. "A champion is somebody who continues to learn and to grow. They never settle on what they've achieved. They don't get complacent. They seek out and find new ways and new things to improve.

"For me, it was an honor to be able to step into that world for a moment and to work with the champions," he added. "I was so blessed to be a part of that."

2. Checking the math: Should Sotnikova have won?

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/02/21/68062776

Some members of the skating world were crying controversy, but the Russian federation relied on calculators to earn its skaters higher marks in Sochi. Key passage:

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Peter Tchernyshev, who won five U.S. ice dancing titles with Naomi Lang, was brought in about a year ago to help improve [Adelina] Sotnikova's choreography. He analyzed her skating, inserted extra rocker steps where he thought they were needed, to add points, and mathematically built a competitive program. Arm movements are good, but so are calculators.

Yes, figure skating is an art, but he added, "We play by the rules that this game is offering us."

"We are very pleased with the results," continued Tchernyshev, noting he wasn't feeling any of the so-called controversy that might be felt elsewhere. "We won this game."

3. Split after worlds? Ilinykh, Katsalapov stay mum

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/03/28/70298574

Rumors abounded that Olympic ice dance bronze medalists Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov would split after the world championships in Saitama, which they eventually did.

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Ilinykh and Katsalapov's coach, Nikoli Morozov, has declined to speak with the press following practices, in the mixed zone or after the draw. Before he left for Saitama, he wrote "Game over" on his Facebook wall. When asked what this meant, he refused to clarify.

4. Chmerkovskiy: Working with Davis is a 'blessing'

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/05/09/74876590

'Dancing with the Stars' veteran Maksim Chmerkovskiy was effusive in his praise for his partner, Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis.

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"I'm a big, intimidating figure. I can only compare myself to a tiger in a zoo. ... Nobody in their right mind would ever want to pet a tiger. She's the type that walks right up and pats him on the head, and the tiger is so confused he has no idea what just happened. This is literally me."

5. Czisny pursues skating, only in different direction

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/06/19/80427076

Alissa Czisny may not have achieved all her goals as a competitive figure skater, but she could move on in her career knowing she had made the most of her abilities.

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"I may not have achieved my ultimate goals in this sport -- and I still sometimes struggle with that, feeling as though I've failed -- but I never want to forget how I've been blessed with the opportunities and experiences that I've been given. God gave me a talent, and it is my responsibility to use it to my best ability! I am able to do what I love to do, and I am blessed to share my gift of skating with others. My career has had its ups and downs, but I've tried to learn and grow from each experience, to make myself better. I've had victories and successes, I've cried and felt heartbroken, I've gone through struggles and pain, but in the end, I wouldn't wish for any other life, because my journey has made me into who I am today."

6. Castelli, Tran teaming up despite logistical hurdles

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/06/10/79080006/

Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran decided to team up despite facing a long road ahead filled with paperwork and a busy travel schedule.

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Castelli and Tran had tryouts in both Boston and Montreal before deciding they were the right fit.

"Lucky for me," Castelli said, "Mervin knows what he's doing. We have to work on a few things but we have good, natural timing together. It really terrified me at first to skate with other people, but I'm feeling very comfortable with Mervin already."

7. Wagner forges ahead through season of change

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/01/24/67057798

After her controversial selection to the U.S. Olympic team, Ashley Wagner needed a vote of confidence, and she got one from one of the most unlikely sources: Mirai Nagasu.

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"One comment that really pushed me through all of this came from Mirai," Wagner said. "Through all of this, she has been phenomenal. She texted me, 'You belong on the team. Good luck. Love you.'"

8. All you need to know about Olympic team event

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/02/03/67385306

We provided a detailed breakdown of the inaugural Olympic team event in Sochi.

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Marina Zoueva, coach of Davis and White as well as Canadian Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, doesn't think competing in the team event will hurt her teams in the individual contest, which begins a week after the team event concludes.

"I'm excited because this event turns our individual sport into a team sport," Zoueva said. "People will think more about each other, and there will be more friendships between the skaters, which I like."

9. Gold-en Age! Victorious Gracie lives up to name

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/01/12/66508384

Gracie Gold snagged her first U.S. title as Polina Edmunds, Mirai Nagasu and two-time champ Ashley Wagner finished second, third and fourth, respectively. Key passage:

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When [Gold] landed her final jump, a double Axel, she pumped both her fists in celebration. She closed her program with a layback spin and began to let her mind drift.

"On my layback, I was thinking I have a really great chance to go to the Olympics," she said. "Maybe it was a bit premature ... but it was definitely there."

10. Who will stand on the podiums in Sochi?

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/01/28/66995358

Icenetwork asked several of its contributors who they thought would come home with Olympic hardware.

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Jean-Christophe Berlot

Ladies

1. Kim
2. Asada
3. Adelina Sotnikova (Russia)
4. Kostner
5. Ashley Wagner (United States)

The "gliders" may still win over the "screwdrivers." In that respect, Yu-Na should remain the queen. Sotnikova may have "her" night. If so, the rankings will be reversed.

11. Skating success just beginning of Davis' dream year

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/10/16/98713444

Winning the Olympic gold medal in Sochi opened up a world of opportunities for Meryl Davis, and she's taken full advantage of her new newfound celebrity.

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"I think what Meryl brings to the table as a competitor and athlete really transcends any category," [Charlie] White added. "That's part of what makes her special. It's what made her qualified to win this award. It's been an honor to work alongside of her for so many years. I don't think I've ever met anyone that is so dedicated and passionate about what they do."

12. Borscht Belts: Kim 'not really upset' about result

URL: http://web.icene'twork.com/news/2014/02/22/68131128

Korea's Yu-Na Kim wasn't complaining about finishing in second place in Sochi, even as the Korean Skating Union and Kim's supporters called for a judging investigation.

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When asked Saturday night about her federation's action, Kim said, "I just think the people around me are more upset than I am. A lot of people thought I was crying (on TV) because of the score, but actually, I wasn't. There was no other meaning. I was just really happy it was all over and I had a good result.

"I don't think the letter is going to change the result, so I'm not really upset about it," Kim added.

13. Olympic exclusion serves as motivation for Nagasu

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/04/03/70805404

Mirai Nagasu may not have agreed with the decision to leave her home from the Sochi Olympics, but she was able to move on with her life, beginning with a stint on 'Stars on Ice.'

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"After nationals, it was really hard, and I didn't know how to handle everything," Nagasu added. "Then I got sick right after nationals, and that hindered my performance at Four Continents (where she placed 10th). During the Olympics, I still had to keep skating because I really thought I might be asked to compete at worlds.

"But I found that I really still enjoy skating. I'm not really committed to anything yet, but I hope that I can skate for myself."

14. In a class of his own: Orser owned 2013-14 season

URL: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2014/05/13/74798034

Figure skating is in a better place because of Brian Orser and his monumental contributions to the sport. That's why he was the icenetwork Person of the Year.

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"Everyone has their place; you've just got to find what it is," [Elvis] Stojko said. "When [Brian] talked about when he started to coach, it felt good when he did that. He felt he was in his place and [was] comfortable. … That's where he found his peace."