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17 Figure Skating Medalists Who Are Royally Pissed Off

Because Silver and Bronze are just so dull next to Gold.

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17. Polina Edmunds at the 2016 US National Championships


American teenage diva Polina Edmunds completed her senior debut with an unexpected Silver at the 2014 Nationals, earning herself a ticket to the Olympics. In the two years since Sochi, Polina had struggled with a growth spurt as well as an expanding ego, posting on social media about her inevitable ticket to the 2018 Winter Games and her self-appraised good looks, and - unlike her gracious teammates - no public encouragement nor congratulations for her American colleagues. Polina entered the long program with an eight-point lead that favored her to win her first National title. Despite a clean free skate from Polina, Gracie Gold's furious "Firebird" soared her into the lead, as she claimed her second National title and left Edmunds with a second Silver. Unlike Wagner, who was satisfied to have earned a spot at Worlds, Polina was visibly peeved to settle for another Silver. She withdrew from 4CC to prepare for Worlds and then, at the last minute, withdrew from Worlds as well, but still managed to make the event about her in numerous self-aggrandizing Tweets. Tomorrow is another day, Polina.

16. Gracie Gold at the 2015 US Figure Skating Championships


The It Girl of 2014 was pissed when she fell in her Free Skate, giving up her reigning title to Ashley Wagner, who'd trailed just behind Gracie the previous season. All the more upsetting, Ashley's Free Skate was considered by many to be the best of her entire career, and with it she was able to add an impressive third National title to her mantle.

15. No One at the 2016 World Championships


Russian teen phenom Evgenia Medvedeva came into the ladies' event as the heavy favorite, but was upset in the short program due to a minor error and some heavy inflation for the final skater of the night, Gracie Gold. Medvedeva came back in the long with a well-earned record-breaking score, and, with that, her fate as a World champ was sealed. Anna Pogorilaya, considered least-ridiculously-amazing of the three Russian ladies at the event, had, to some surprise, bested teammate Elena Radionova in both the short and long. After a Bronze at Nationals, Ashley Wagner of the US came to the event with hopes of a medal but the maturity and experience to know that nothing in figure skating is ever certain (nor objective). After an underscored short program, Wagner found herself in fourth, and, as the final skater at the long program event, was able to harness the momentum of Gracie's error-filled "Firebird" to raise the roof with her signature "Moulin Rouge" free skate, taking Silver to win her first and very-hard-fought Worlds medal, with Anna taking Bronze. Unbridled joy resonated on the podium, as each of the ladies received her first World medal. Evgenia, in her adorable unselfconsciousness, blared out Russia's national anthem, as Ashley grinned from ear-to-ear and Anna cried tears of joy.

14. Kaetlyn Osmond's Fibula at the 2016 Canadian National Championships


Canada's It-Girl of figure skating had sat out the previous season with a potentially career-ending leg fracture. After an inconsistent and occasionally scary return season, Kaetlyn took the lead at Nationals after the short program. Her teammates bested her in the long, however, with Alaine Chartrand bringing down the house with a phenomenal free skate to "Gone With the Wind." Kaetlyn ended up with a Bronze, which took her to Four Continents, but not to Worlds. Ever the sportswoman, Kaetlyn was a champ throughout the event, but her fibula was no-doubt aching with disappointment.

13. Yuzuru Hanyu's Head at the 2014 Cup of China


During the long-program warm-up at China's Grand Prix event, reigning Olympic champ Hanyu found himself unconscious and bleeding, with a possible concussion, after a high-speed collision with Maxim Kovtun. Coach Brian Orser suggested Yuzu sit out the program, but the potentially brain-damaged Japanese phenom decided to test the stability of his cranium and meninges with his signature, quad-filled "Phantom" program, during which he fell a mere five times. All the competitors were shaken by the incident, however, and Yuzu still managed a second-place finish, scoring just behind Yan Han of China. After numerous stitches and weeks of recovery, Yuzu's momentum continued, as he shattered the world record and later shattered the new record he'd set. He was lucky, however, as his decision to perform after such a serious and not-yet-assessed head trauma could've incurred permanent damage. Hanyu must've been emotionally traumatized, however, as the typically mild-mannered young man threw a tantrum at Kazakstan's Denis Ten for skating too close during a practice at the 2016 Worlds.

12. Scott Hamilton at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics


Scott Hamilton won his much-anticipated Gold medal at Sarajevo, albeit after popping numerous jumps in his long program. This perfectionist was visibly peeved at his own imperfect performance, and accepted his Gold with a smile, of course, but perhaps a less-toothy one than your typical Olympic champion. Sadly, the talented Hamilton has been lost to figure-skating history - unless you count his long professional career, the creation of "Stars on Ice," his job as a longtime NBC commentator, his decades-long status as the face of US figure skating, and his mind-boggling net-worth (considered the largest of any skater in history). Hamilton's enthusiasm for and encouragement of generations of skaters has taken the "edge" off what was once a more cut-throat sport, and his ability to emote with the skaters as they perform wins him, in my book, a Gold medal for commentating, and for being a generally awesome human being. If/when Johnny and Tara take his place at NBC, I don't believe figure skating will ever be the same.

11. Michelle Kwan at the 1998 Nagano Olympics


The phenom of US figure skating was shadowed by a bratty 15-year-old kid known as Tara Lipinski. Lipinksi retired after her championship season, however, and Kwan's reign continued for many years.

10. Michelle Kwan at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics


With Lipinski outta the picture, the queen of US figure skating had waited four long years for another chance to add an Olympic Championship to her impressive record. This gold-medal favorite, however, was sidelined by underdog Sarah Hughes, who - next to countrymen Kwan and Cohen - had not been considered a medal contender. Due to injury, Kwan was unable to compete at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, and retired as a multi-record-holder, having won nearly every medal in the sport (several times over) - except an Olympic Gold.

9. Debi Thomas at the 1988 Calgary Olympics


Reigning Olympic Champion Katarina Witt successfully defended her title when Debi Thomas, America's sweetheart, missed three triple jumps during her Free Skate. The much-hyped "Battle of the Carmens" resulted in a Bronze for Debi, who was noticeably devastated in the Kiss & Cry, as she told her coach she was headed "back to school," telling reporters she would be retiring from competitive skating. For this high-achiever, going "back to school" culminated in a career as an orthopedic surgeon. A recent OWN-network expose, however, showed that Debi had descended into poverty, having left medicine (as well as her kids) several years ago to live with her boyfriend (a heavy drinker) in a trailer in Appalachia; given her high highs and low lows, some have speculated that Debi suffers from bipolar disorder, with former friends and colleagues pointing to her insatiable and over-rushed work ethic when it came to skating and school, and the contrast of that potentially "manic" state with the current state of her life. Let's hope this former skating champ can get back on her feet (or blades) - with a resume like Debi's she's bound to find employment at a hospital, or at least at an ice rink.

8. Evgeni Plushenko at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics


After three years away from competition, reigning Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko attempted to reclaim his title at the Vancouver Winter Games. American Evan Lysacek took gold, however, even without a quad jump, which had become standard amongst top male skaters, and poor Plushenko had to settle for silver. Afterwards he made such sportsmanlike statements as “I suppose Evan needs a medal more than I do; maybe because I already have one" and “Without quadruples, I don’t know; sorry, but it’s not men’s figure skating.” Plushenko was highly critical of the new ISU scoring system, insisting he would've successfully defended his title under the old "6.0" system.

7. Mao Asada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics


As one of Japan's most famous and respected athletes, Asada was under a lot of pressure to bring home the Gold from the 2010 Winter Games. Once a gold-medal favorite, she was now second-best to South Korea's Yuna Kim, the reigning World Champion, who was considered more-or-less unbeatable. After a disappointing Free Skate, the Japanese phenom had to settle for Silver, and was visibly peeved at her own less-than-perfect performance. A month later, however, she defeated Kim at the 2010 World Championships, and has since gone on to earn two more World titles.

6. Mirai Nagasu at the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships


To say Mirai was "pissed off" isn't quite accurate, since her third-place finish was full of both jubilation and dread. As the two-time reigning National champ, Ashley Wagner was considered such a shoe-in for the upcoming Olympic team that a slew of sponsors had already lined up to showcase the top American lady. The pressure got the best of Ashley, however, who faltered to a horrifying Pewter finish. As soon as the final rankings popped up, the commentators were already warning that the Olympic team had not yet been decided and would be at the discretion of the committee, whom, they must've surmised, would be more-or-less obligated to send Ashley in place of Mirai. Despite Mirai's former glories (2008 National champion, 4th-place finish at Vancouver), Ashley's impressive international record over the past number of seasons trumped Mirai's inconsistency. The USFSA did indeed give Ashley the spot on the team, and Mirai skated a tear-filled Exhibition just after receiving the devastating news. Hand-picking the Olympic team was very controversial and poorly-handled; it horrified Mirai, stigmatized Ashley, and brought outrageous accusations of anti-Asian racism on the same federation that had supported Kwan ahead of Cohen and Yamaguchi ahead of Kerrigan. IMHO, sending Ashley to Sochi was a must, as her career accomplishments had earned the US ladies that third Olympic slot she and Mirai were vying for, but the USFSA should've gone about it the old-fashioned way - inflating Ashley's GoEs and artistic scores while incomprehensibly downgrading Mirai's. Would hardly have been unprecedented, let alone uncommon, within the heinous subjectivity of figure skating. I, for one, hope to see both these women at Pyeongchang.


5. The Republic of Korea at the 2014 Sochi Olympics


Reigning Olympic Champion "Queen Yuna" returned to competitive skating following a break from competition after her flawless and record-breaking performance at the 2010 Winter Games. Expected by most to pick up another Gold, Kim humbly settled for Silver after a controversial decision placed Russia's Adelina Sotnikova just ahead of her. As the biggest celebrity in South Korea, her Korean fans (i.e., the entire population of Korea) were outraged, and a (futile) petition calling for an investigation into the judging was signed by millions. Kim retired after Sochi as one of the most impressive skaters in history, finishing off the podium not once in her entire career.

4. Tonya Harding at the 1991 World Championships


Reigning National Champion Tonya Harding thought she had a World title in the bag as the only woman to land a triple axel at the event (and, to this day, the only US skater to successfully land one in competition). She was edged out by Kristi Yamaguchi, however, and was visibly upset when she had to settle for Silver. Since her ISU ban-for-life following the Kerrigan scandal in 1994, Harding has gone on to some great things, most involving stints with boxing, interviews about her involvement in Kerrigan's attack, and frantic and paranoid phone calls to local police.

3. Sale & Pelletier at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics


Phenom pair skaters Sale and Pelletier skated two flawless programs at the 2002 Winter Games, and were, most thought, shoe-ins for Gold. The Canadian pair was edged out by the Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze of Russia, settling for Silver. This controversial decision led to an investigation into the judges, who were found to be guilty of trading votes - ultimately resulting in an overhaul of the entire scoring system. Due to the scandal, Sale and Pelletier were awarded Gold a week later as "co-Champions" with the Russian team.

2. Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics


After her attack at Nationals, Nancy Kerrigan became world-famous for her perseverance and dedication to her sport, as she worked intensely to recover from her injury to ensure she'd be in tip-top shape for the Winter Games a month later. Her reputation grew as Tonya Harding's declined, and by Lillehammer she was a gold-medal favorite. Reigning World Champion Oksana Baiul - an orphan who'd been taken in by her coach - could counter Nancy's overcoming-adversity story with her own, however, and could, on occasion, out-triple her as well. During her Free Skate, Baiul did just that, and won Gold by a margin of 0.1 point from one judge. Kerrigan's reputation took a hit when she was caught on camera saying unkind things about Baiul as she waiting for the medal ceremony to begin.

1. Brian Orser at the 1988 Calgary Olympics


Reigning World champion Orser was pitted against longtime rival Boitano when he was given the chance to skate on home-ice at the Calgary Olympics. The "Battle of the Brians" received much media attention, and both men skated flawless, mind-boggling programs. A few more judges slightly preferred Boitano, however, and thus Silver went to Orser. While Orser was sportsmanlike in public, he's since spoken about how crushing the experience was, explaining he couldn't bring himself to watch the performance for a decade, and beat himself up about the "loss" for many years. His comments reminded me that, although one may envy the glitz and glamour and beauty these skaters can create on ice, many athletes (like Orser, apparently) endure disturbing levels of competitiveness and self-deprecation, which is particularly problematic in a sport as subjective as figure skating. If Orser's performance had been less than perfect, one could understand his disappointment; his programs, however, raised the roof, and it is simply not healthy to beat oneself up about a few judges who were swayed by the 'Tano arm position. Following his apparently-devastating silver-medal finish to Boitano, Orser had a long career in professional skating, and has since become a coaching phenom, becoming a guru to the likes of Yuna Kim, Yuzuru Hanyu, and Javier Fernandez. In his coaching career, Orser's gotten his Gold medal - and then some.

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