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Fourth-Place Medal

How the Sochi Games changed figure skating forever

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1. The re-emergence of Russia

Whether or not there was home cooking, Team Russia dominated figure skating, winning the team event and gold in two of the four disciplines.

It's hard to believe that just a year ago, Russia struggled at the world championships, qualifying only one man and two women (out of a possible three) for the Olympics.

While Evgeni Plushenko's heir has yet to come forward, Julia Lipniskaia and Adelina Sotnikova have a slew of up-and-comers nipping at their bladed heels. Don't be surprised if one or both women don't return for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games – four of the top six ladies on the junior circuit are Russian.

[Photos: Olympic crush Adelina Sotnikova]

The pairs and dance programs are in good hands too, with Ksenia Stoblova and Fedor Klimov (pairs silver medalists) and Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (dance bronze medalists) unexpectedly winning medals. Both couples are young – and good enough – to dominate for the next quadrennial.

Of course, there were the old allegations of corrupt judging, which will hopefully lead to greater scrutiny of results in the future.

2. Team event triumphs

The general consensus among the athletes who competed in the inaugural figure skating team event was that it was a success.

"'We were looking forward to this event,'' ice dancer and Team USA captain Charlie White said. "We feel like we were out there for each other and with each other."

White and his partner Meryl Davis were one of a handful of athletes who competed in both phases of the team competition and their own individual event. The extra programs didn't seem to affect Davis and White, who won the gold in ice dance. But for others – notably Evgeni Plushenko and Julia Lipnitskaia – skating in the team competition before their individual event took a physical toll.

The team event will hopefully encourage countries like Japan and China – which are traditionally weaker in ice dancing – to develop that discipline and field competitive squads against powerhouses Russia, Canada and the United States.

3. The quad is here to stay

Evan Lysacek won the gold in 2010 without a four-revolution jump, but eight of the top 10 men in Sochi landed at least one clean quad. The point value of the quad was increased after Vancouver to encourage more attempts; greater risk equals greater reward. But watching after skater after skater fall on it in Sochi – including gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu – begs the question if much emphasis is put on a jump.

[Photos: Five worst falls of the men's figure skating event]

4. Less dancing in 'ice dancing'

Davis and White were deserving gold medal winners, but critics would say their style is more acrobatic than ballroom – which is what ice dancing is based on. More "traditional" teams like Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada and Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France fell short of their medal goals, getting lower marks on their skating skills and transitions marks. Ice dancing experts would say those are actually the areas where they excel.

5. Retirements will create a void in talent

For many years, skaters like Evgeni Plushenko and Yuna Kim carried the skating mantle for their countries. Their retirements will leave a gap that may take years to fill.

That being said, kudos to them and the likes of Carolina Kostner, Mao Asada, Brian Joubert, and Qing Pang and Jian Tong, who all skated final performances they can be proud of in Sochi.

[Photos: 14 figure skaters retiring after the 2014 season]

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