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2011 retrospective: Triumph, tragedy, heartbreak

Icenetwork.com counts down the biggest skating stories of the year

Ryan Bradley's winning the U.S. title in Greensboro came as a huge surprise, but was it the biggest skating story of the year?
Ryan Bradley's winning the U.S. title in Greensboro came as a huge surprise, but was it the biggest skating story of the year? (Getty Images)

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By Mickey Brown
(12/23/2011) - With 2011 coming to a close, icenetwork.com takes a look back at what happened in skating over the last 12 months. Based on page views, here are the 11 biggest stories in the sport from this past year.

11. Canton, Mich. = Ice dancing capital of the world

It was one thing when the top three medal spots in ice dancing at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships were taken by teams that trained in Canton, Mich. It was a whole other thing when the podium at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships consisted solely of teams coached by Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena.

10. Meryl Davis and Charlie White win worlds

On April 30, 2011, Meryl Davis and Charlie White did something no other American ice dancing team ever had: win the world title. They defeated their rink mates (and 2010 Olympic gold medalists), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, by 3.48 points to take the gold medal.

9. Mao Asada leaves Grand Prix Final to be with ailing mother

In one of the most heartbreaking stories of the year, Japan's Mao Asada withdrew from the 2011 Grand Prix Final after learning that her mother, Kyoko, was in failing health. Sadly, Asada did not make it back to Japan before Kyoko passed away at the age of 48.

8. Russia awarded 2011 World Championships

After the tragic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, the International Skating Union (ISU) postponed the world championships indefinitely (see below). Once it was decided that the event would be held at a later date and at a different location, several countries submitted bids, and Russia was awarded the right to host the event.

7. Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett announce end of partnership

This one came as a surprise to a lot of people. Just one year after winning the U.S. pairs title and competing at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett called it quits. Barrett retired from the sport, while Denney later teamed up with John Coughlin.

6. Miki Ando cements status as world's top ladies skater

Some may have thought Japan's Miki Ando was past her prime, but she proved to be in top form last season, winning five of the six competitions she entered, including the world championships, where she bested Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim of Korea by 1.29 points.

5. Virtue and Moir withdraw from Four Continents

Virtue and Moir sat out the first part of the 2010-11 season to allow Virtue to recover from offseason surgery on her shins. They made their long-awaited competitive debut at the 2011 Four Continents Championships and held a small lead over Davis and White after the short dance, but they had to stop partway through their free dance and could not continue. They withdrew from the event, citing a quadriceps injury to Virtue.

4. Ryan Bradley wins U.S. men's title

It had been 10 months since he last competed, but Ryan Bradley showed little rust in winning the men's title at the 2011 U.S. Championships. After contemplating retirement following a disappointing 2009-10 season, Bradley decided to make one last go of it. He grabbed a two-point lead in the short program and never looked back, winning his first U.S. title by more than six points.

3. Kim headlines 'Evening with Champions'

Kim makes news wherever she goes, and this time was no different, as it was announced that she would perform in the 41st annual An Evening with Champions show at Harvard University. This was Kim's first exhibition appearance on the East Coast of the United States, and she did not disappoint.

2. Postponement of the 2011 World Championships after Japanese earthquake, tsunami

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March had far-reaching ramifications, one of which was the postponement and cancellation of long-planned sporting events in the country. The 2011 World Figure Skating Championships were to take place March 21-27 in Tokyo, but the ISU stepped in and announced on March 14 that the event would either be postponed or cancelled. (It was moved to Moscow and held in late April.)

1. The revival of Alissa Czisny

Alissa Czisny, the mercurial skater whose career has been marked by the highest highs and the lowest lows, came into the 2010-11 season with tempered expectations. Buoyed by an offseason coaching change that brought her under the tutelage of Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato, Czisny medaled at both of her Grand Prix events, took the gold at the 2010 Grand Prix Final and captured her second career U.S. title in Greensboro. She has carried that momentum into this season and goes into next month's U.S. Championships as the favorite.