12 for '12: Icenetwork.com's 2012 Year in Review
Take a look back at the last 12 months in figure skiating with the 12 most-read articles of the year
|Gracie Gold became a global skating sensation in 2012. (Renee Felton)|
With two straight world championships and the unquestioned title of "World's Best Skater," Patrick Chan was on top of the skating world after the 2011-12 season. But his aura took a bit of a hit in mid-April, when it was announced that his coach of two years, Christy Krall, was leaving his camp. The Canadian skater has seen his results dip this season, with a second-place finish at Skate Canada and a bronze-medal showing at the Grand Prix Final, events he had won each of the last two seasons.
It didn't take long for Igor Shpilband to land on his feet after he and longtime coaching partner Marina Zoueva ended their relationship in early June. The mentor of numerous national, world and Olympic medalists set up shop at the Novi Ice Arena in Novi, Mich., located less than 20 miles from his old grounds, the Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Mich. Shpilband also reeled in his first high-profile clients, as Madison Chock and Evan Bates announced they would follow the coach to his new rink.
At 25, a ladies figure skater is practically a fossil. For Carolina Kostner, the quarter-century mark proved to be magical, as the Italian star turned in a season for the ages (literally), winning every major competition she entered and capping the campaign with a victory at the 2012 World Championships in Nice, France.
This one is remembered as much for what happened on the ice as what happened off it.
At the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Jeremy Abbott put out a defining performance of his "Exogenesis Symphony Part 3" free skate, earning a U.S.-record score of 183.35 in the segment and giving him 273.58 points overall, also a new standard. It was the third national title in four years for the Detroit-based skater.
The excitement was apparently too much for Abbott's stepfather, Allen Scott, who passed out in the stands during the program and required medical attention. Although limited information was made available, reports indicated that Scott's condition was never considered serious.
Amy Rosewater's article on Sasha Cohen was meant to be your run-of-the-mill, "Where are they now?" feature, but it contained a couple of nuggets that caught readers off guard: Since enrolling at Columbia University, Cohen started going by the name "Alex" and had taken up rugby.
OK, so the rugby was touch and not tackle, but we still have a hard time picturing the skater -- best known for her petite frame and otherwordly flexibility -- piling into a scrum and, ball in hand, making a headfirst dive for the try line.
Daisuke Takahashi rose to prominence in the years he was coached by Nikoli Morozov, but when the two split in 2008, it was anything but amicable. That's why it was with some surprise that the 2010 world champion chose to return to his old mentor in June. The change appears to have worked: After winning silver at both of his Grand Prix events, the Japanese skater won his first gold medal in seven tries at the Grand Prix Final.
The precursor to the No. 11 item on this list, Shpilband's departure from the Arctic Edge Ice Arena sent shockwaves through the skating community. With Zoueva, the Russian-born coach had created an ice dance empire in Canton, Mich., and it all came to a swift end one Sunday in June.
It's AshWag's world; we're all just living in it.
In the days leading up to the 2012 U.S. Championships, the self-anointed "Almost Girl" boldly declared, "It's my nationals to lose." Some took offense to her brashness, but Wagner showed the critics that she was merely stating fact. Sitting third after the short program, Wagner delivered a show-stopping performance of her Black Swan free skate and walked away with her first U.S title, setting her up for a series of even more impressive finishes over the rest of the year.
Not much attention was paid to Agnes Zawadzki prior to the 2012 U.S. Championships. After all, she'd struggled in the previous fall's Grand Prix Series, finishing seventh and eighth at her two assignments, and there were several more experienced competitors in the senior ladies field. She was the talk of the town, however, after the short program, landing the only clean triple-triple combination of the event and assuming the top spot in the standings. She stumbled in the free, finishing third overall, but improved results have followed, including a win at the inaugural U.S International Classic and a bronze at the Rostelecom Cup.
The hype was almost too great for the reality to live up to, but Gracie Gold turned out to be as advertised. Completely off the radar prior to the 2011-12 season, the then 16-year-old from Chicago put up huge scores at her one Junior Grand Prix assignment and sectional championships. That led to her being considered the prohibitive favorite to win the junior crown at the U.S. championships, an event she didn't even qualify for a season before. She won that title with ease and took second at the world junior championships. On April 5, it was announced she would make her senior international debut at the 2012 World Team Trophy, where she helped Team USA to a silver-medal finish.
Pasquale Camerlengo has long been an in-demand chorepgrapher, having done programs for Takahashi, Abbott and Akiko Suzuki, among others, but the work he did with three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko this offseason garnered the most attention. Highlights of Lynn Rutherford's interview include Camerlengo addressing Plushenko's supposed lack of transitions ("I said, 'I want to see you doing something that is not crossovers.'") and the influence Plushenko's coach, Alexei Mishin, exhibited over the proceedings ("Even before you are doing something, he gives you direction of how he wants it.").
Everyone loves a wedding, especially when it's one involving the outrageous Johnny Weir. Almost lost in an article published Dec. 29, the three-time U.S. champion, having just performed in the "Holiday Dreams on Ice" show, casually mentioned he was getting married to his then boyfriend, Victor Voronov, on New Year's Eve. Weir also hinted at a possible return to competition, something he formally announced a few weeks later.