Memorable Moments: The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

Golden Opening Ceremony: Russia celebrated their history in a stunning display of 3-D projections and a dazzling performance of their illustrious dance history in a moving ballet piece that encapsulated the unparalleled skill that serves as the golden standard, ballerinas all around the world try to achieve.

Best Star-Making Figure Skating Moment: 15 year old Russian skating sensation, Yulia Lipnitskaya wowed the world with her incredible debut performance at the Olympic Games during the first ever, team figure skating event. With spectacular spins and mature artistic expression beyond her years, she easily left an indelible impression that will last for countless years to come.

Best Female Comeback Performance: 2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan endured through her disastrous short-program, demonstrating insatiable grit and determination by finishing her program. That alone was impressive and then the following night she awed by battling back in a stunningly perfect, free dance. By overcoming personal tragedy she proved what being a true champion is all about, perseverance.

Best Male Comeback Performance: American figure skater Jeremy Abbott took a terrible fall when he attempted to land a quad. The nasty spill left him lying on the ice for 10 seconds before he pulled himself together, triumphantly standing back up on the ice. He would complete his performance as the classy Russian crowd cheered him on, clapping in time with the music.

Most Winning Reaction: America’s skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace ran into the stands to embrace her husband and kids, after her silver medal winning run. 

Most Fascinating Competitor: 55-year-old slalom skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe was the oldest competitor at this year’s Olympics and the second oldest in history, he is also a German Prince born in Mexico. Paying homage to the land he was competing for, he donned a mariachi-style uniform. Did I also mention that he is a pop star and photographer? He definitely earned the gold medal for most multi-hyphenated talent.

Strangest Double Duty: Marina Zoueva was an interesting character at this year’s games as one of the most talked about coaches in recent memory. Pulling double duty as coach to both the U.S. ice dancing team Davis/White and Virtue/Moir of Canada, she scurried from team to team by switching jackets, as needed. No matter the confusing team situation, she managed to never forget where her purse belonged, right by her side.

Best Color Commentary: Johnny Weir’s spot-on, and illuminating coverage kept the conversation surrounding all of the action on ice, lively and refreshing with fantastic insights that proved to be a breath of fresh air. Strong chemistry with co-hosts Tara Lipinksi and Terry Gannon, made the trio a must listen as Weir anchored the group's synergy.

Most Ice Melting Moment: Sizzling Canadian ice dancing duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were fire on ice as they reminded Olympic viewers of their golden chemistry, artistic perfection, and the technical proficiency that won them the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games. After skating together for 17 years, the connection between the pair was enamoring to behold and they proved they hadn’t slipped an inch in quality, since the last Olympics. 

Best Docu-Bio Moment: Before the figure skating exhibition, NBC aired a documentary following 21 year old, paralympian Jessica Long as she made her way back to her birth place of Russia, where she was adopted when she was just 13 months old. It was an incredibly moving piece and her reunion with her birth parents was an outstandingly beautiful moment to witness.

Two families from different parts of the world, brought together by their love of the same girl. It’s segments like this that serve as a reminder that the stories behind the athletes can a lot of times prove just as riveting as what unfolds when they compete. 

Sweetest Goodbye: World Champions and silver medalist pairs skating powerhouse and off-ice couple, Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China bid farewell to the ice, retiring after 20 years. At the exhibition they skated on Olympic ice for the last time to the Les Miserables’ classic “I Dreamed a Dream”. It was a stunning performance to close out the competitive chapter of their career. 

Most Ferocious Dynamos: Russian pair skaters Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov shook the world with their spectacular performance at the team skate event, helping Russia to their gold medal victory and then they topped it off by winning gold at the pair’s event. 

Saddest Struggle: When overnight gold medal favorite and media darling, Yulia Lipnitskaya fell during her short program, it would be one of the most shocking falters at the games. She returned to the ice the following night with the weight of the world’s eyes resting on her teenage shoulders, where she would fall again during her free dance, eventually placing in 5th.

Her performance during Saturday’s exhibition was a flawlessly performed ending to her Olympic debut that once again proved she will be a top contender 4 years from now. Grace under pressure is difficult and at 15, Lipnitskaya showed immense quantities of it. 

Most Enthusiastically Costumed Parent: Russian native Boris Shnapir, the proud father of American pair skater, Simon Shnapir cheered on his son, while decked out in so much USA regalia that he earned the media nickname “Uncle Boris”. 

Most Entertaining Competitor: Early in the games, American figure skater Ashley Wagner’s response to her scores during the team event would go viral and propel her towards infamy. Wagner had come into the Olympics with something to prove and she hushed most of the naysayers with a vibrant performance of her short program during the team event.

Never one to hide her emotions, Wagner kept it real and her honesty was refreshing. After witnessing her journey for the past 5 years on the competitive circuit, her feelings were understandable. As a tenacious competitor, Wagner doesn’t hold back and it’s something that makes her a compelling, if sometimes, polarizing figure. Her entertainment level was always spot on whether on the ice or off.

What were your favorite moments from Sochi? Eclectic Pop wants to hear from you! You can share your thoughts by tweeting @EclecticPop or leaving a comment below.

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