The 2014 Winter Olympics began in Sochi today and the figure skating competition is already underway with both the Mens Short Program and Pairs in the Team Event on display. The athletecism and grace of these skaters has been already impressive, and indeed the elegance of figure skating is one of the defining characteristics of the games. But what about when it doesn't work out so well? A toe edge caugth in the ice, a slight wobble, a milisecond of mistiming could cost you glory.
1. Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin - 2004 - Skate America. Tatiana and Maxim are skating royalty, winning the Gold Medal in Turin in 2006. But they had a bumpy road to get there. On 23 October 2004, during the free skate at the 2004 Skate America in Pittsburgh, Marinin lost his balance while attempting an Axel lasso lift, dropping Totmianina head first onto the ice. She sustained a concussion and spent the night in hospital. The accident actually impacted Maxim more severely, who had to see a sport psychologist in order to lift Tatiana again.
2. Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison - 2007 - Four Continents Championship. Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were the darlings of Canadian figure skating for some time. But on February 8, 2007 things turned very sour. During a side-by-side camel spin, Dubé was struck in the face by the blade of Davison's skate. She immmediately fell to the ground, blood pouring onto the ice. She was taken to hospital and received 83 stitches to repair the cut on her face.
3. Olga Prokuronova & Karel Štefl - 2006 - European Championships. This Russian-Czech partnership started out well, however, in 2006 it took a fall -- literally. Competing in Lyon, Prokurnova fell from a lift, hitting her head on the ice. The pair withdrew from the event. Although she didn't suffer any serious injury, it was a terrifying moment for the skating world. In October 2006, it was reported that Olga had declined to resume the partnership
4. Zhang Dan & Zhang Hao - 2006 - Turin Olympics. This Chinese pair went into the Olympics as serious gold medal contenders. They attempted a jump that had never been landed in competition -- a throw quadruple salchow -- in which the male skater throws his partner in the air and she performs four rotations before landing. Zhang Dan fell in a painful split on the ice, however the pair continued the routine.
5. Michelle Kwan - 2002 - Salt Lake Olympics. This fall makes the list not so much because of its seriousness, as it was really only a minor fall, but more for the emotional impact it took for an entire nation. Michelle Kwan had been the darling of American figure skating for years. She won the American Championships a record 9 times and the World Championship 5 times. 2002 represented her chance to at last claim the greatest prize of all on American soil. Leaning slightly too far forward on a triple axel cost her that chance.
Image courtesy of Paolo Bona, Shutterstock.