The best of figure skating in 2007

Team U.S.A.'s Evan Lysacek.
Team U.S.A.'s Evan Lysacek. (Michelle Harvath)


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(12/31/2007) - Our team of globe-trotting contributing writers share some of their favorite moments from figure skating in 2007.

Courageous comebacks. A star ascending. And, a couple of big, big surprises.

Canadian skating fans experienced all of that and more in 2007, thanks to five skaters for whom the last 12 months have been anything but ordinary. Anyone who saw the terrifying accident that Jessica Dube, 19, and Bryce Davison, 21, suffered at Four Continents Championship in Colorado, will long remember the horrible image as his skate blade slashed her face and she instantly collapsed onto the ice. Even when medical reports indicated her recovery would be relatively quick and complete - save for the fading scar on her cheek - some wondered whether their season would be cut short, whether the psychological trauma would take its toll.

But the star-crossed pair wasted no time in getting back on the ice, intent on putting the horrific accident behind them. In their four years together, the determined duo had never encountered a roadblock - be it injury on the ice or in a car accident - that they couldn't overcome. The 2007 Canadian Championships in January had been the latest case in point. Despite having been sidelined from competition the previous fall as she rehabbed from her second knee surgery in as many years, in January Dube and Davison claimed their first national title. In March, just four weeks after the catastrophe in Colorado, they headed to Tokyo, determined to rise to the occasion once again. Their seventh place finish there was as good as gold and solidified their reputation as the courageous comeback kids.

Out of the blue, virtually-unknown and newly-paired ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje made major waves at home and abroad in 2007. Together mere months and fresh off the junior Grand Prix circuit, teenagers Weaver and Poje snatched the bronze medal at the Canadian championships. In their wake were several surprised veteran couples who subsequently retired or split. That shocking but commendably fair result spawned the equally surprising announcement that the rookies had been named to both the junior and senior world teams. At the juniors, they snagged bronze. On the senior stage, where they were without pedigree, a 20th-place result was perhaps inevitable despite the new judging system's promises to the contrary.

In the fall of 2007, Patrick Chan arrived. The 16-year-old, who claimed the world junior silver last March, proved he belonged with the big boys by landing on two senior Grand Prix podiums, and finishing a respectable fifth at the star-laden Grand Prix Final. He was the only Canadian man to make the top-six cut. Chan skates with a maturity, an elegance and effortless glide that belie his youth. His work ethic, steely focus and competitive toughness are reminiscent of a young Elvis Stojko. And, like Stojko in the past, Chan's continued acceleration heading into the 2010 Olympic Games, should soon see him tagged, if he isn't already, as a medal hope for Canada in Vancouver. (Laurie Nealin)

Joubert rises

The best event of 2007 for France was undoubtedly Brian Joubert's victory at the world championship in Tokyo.

France had been hoping for such a victory for 42 years. In 1965, Alain Calmat had won the world championship at the Broadmoor world arena in Colorado Springs. No French figure skater had ever won the world title since (only Paul and Isabelle Duchesnay [in 1991], and more recently Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat [in 2000], won a world title in Ice Dancing).

Several came close, though: Patrick Péra, who won two Olympic bronze medals in 1968 and 1972, and a world silver medal in 1971; Philippe Candeloro, who did the same at the 1994 and 1998 Olympics, and also took a silver at the 1994 Worlds; Jean-Christophe Simond, who was always the best in the world in figures but always fell short of the world podium in the free skate. Surya Bonaly, the French girl, came even closer to a world title, as she won three world silver medals.

Many thought that Brian Joubert would be the one, including Alain Calmat himself. A popular figure in France (Calmat became a national hero when he won the championship and became a surgeon the same year. Less than 20 years later he became the minister of Sport in the French government), he said: "I was convinced that Brian would be my successor. I am so happy not to be the last French world champion anymore".

After a disappointing 2006 season (where he finished 6th at the Olympics in Turin but managed to rebound a month later to take the world silver medal), Brian Joubert had finally won the World championship. (Jean-Christophe Berlot)

Emergence of U.S. stars of the future

In early 2007, two 13 year-olds -- Caroline Zhang and Mirai Zagasu -- emerged as U.S. hopes for the future, mesmerizing crowds at the 2007 U.S. Championships in Spokane when Zagasu upset the heavily favored Zhang and won the U.S. junior lady title. A month later, Zhang revenged her defeat at the World Junior Championships in Oberstdorf, winning gold while Zagasu took home silver. Another young American, Ashley Wagner, took the bronze.

In the fall of 2007, the now 14-year-olds were equally impressive. Choosing to stay in the junior ranks, Nagasu dominated the Junior Grand Prix circuit with wins at Lake Placid, Croatia and the Junior Grand Prix Final in Gdansk, Poland. Zhang skated well enough to make the senior Grand Prix Final in Torino, where she placed fourth, ahead of U.S. champion Kimmie Meissner.

At the 2008 U.S. Championships, the two young skaters will both compete in the senior category. Unfortunately for the U.S., neither can compete at the 2008 World Championships in Gothenberg, due to ISU age restrictions. (Skaters must have turned 15 by July 1st of the previous year.) But Zhang, Nagasu, Wagner and another youngster, Rachael Flatt, bode well for the 2010 Olympics.(Lynn Rutherford)

Other great moments

- Miki Ando winning the 2007 World championship after her disastrous showing at the 2006 winter Olympics

- Evan Lysacek winning the U.S. men's title

- The emergence of Daisuke Takahashi at Worlds

- The Miami University Varsity Synchro Team winning silver at the world synchro championships in Canada