The 2014 Winter Olympics have brought plenty of excitement to the host country, but what the figure skaters from Russia have provided thus far on the ice has been sensational.
And with plenty of excitement building up for Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov to take the ice, the pair delivered with a brilliant performance that left the crowd in awe.
Their routine was enough to earn them the crown as the top pairs skaters and the Olympic gold, as the Associated Press reports:
Along with Volosozhar and Trankov, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia also shocked the world by standing next to the pair with the silver medal.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the German favorites to contend with the Russians coming in, couldn't finish with a clean routine and placed third in the event with a bronze medal.
With the pairs figure skating officially coming to an end, here's a look at the medal count following the routines and a breakdown of the top athletes.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, Russia
Volosozhar and Trankov were expected to bring artistry and perfection, and that's exactly what they delivered.
Prior to skating in the final, Trankov spoke about the moment, according to Olympic.org:
There were moments when things seemed easy and I thought I was just flying but I had to check myself before the emotions took over. The Olympics in Russia -- I don't know when it will happen again and it's something we'll take with us for the rest of our lives. The whole country is giving us their support now.
When the pair hit the ice, there was no denying who the crowd favorite was. An eruption of applause followed their introduction and the close of their routine.
Both Volosozhar and Trankov were brought to tears following the routine, hands covering their faces as they breathed in the moment. They took in the scene on home ice in front of a crowd that blew the roof off the stadium.
Nick McCarvel of NBC posted a photo of the spot where Volosozhar collapsed on the ice and slid around in celebration:
In perfect unison, the stoic pair couldn't be touched on the ice after winning both of the pairs routines in team competition and took home the gold. There was never any doubt throughout the Olympics, and the duo didn't leave any following their performance.
Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, Russia
Was there any doubt that the Russians would melt the ice yet again? Maybe not, but having two at the top of the podium was astounding.
After not placing a single contender on the podium during the 2010 Winter Olympics, Stolbova and Klimov helped make sure that two would medal, as McCarvel points out:
The surprising routine left the crowd astounded, much like their fellow countrymen would do later in the event. But after a slip-up by Savchenko and Szolkowy, there was an opening for the No. 2 pair in Russia.
With the second-place finish, it's clear that the Russians can't be touched on the ice thus far. But with several figure skating events still to be decided, there is still plenty of time for the Russians to be knocked off the throne.
For now, Stolbova and Klimov are but another sign of what can happen in Russia behind the amazing home crowd.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Germany
The favorites for years before the rise of the Russian duo, Savchenko and Szolkowy put together another dynamic performance, but it wouldn't be enough.
After winning a bronze medal back in 2010 in Vancouver, the pair went on to win the gold medal in both the 2011 and 2012 World Championships, but fell to the Russians in 2013 before beating them in the Grand Prix during the same year.
It was a performance that many thought could compete with Volosozhar and Trankov, but a fall by Szolkowy in the middle of the routine would cost them, as Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out:
Szolkowy took another spill near the end of the routine on a throw, but the damage had already been done. The Germans had fallen and couldn't cash in on a gold medal against an unbelievable Russian team.
Savchenko and Szolkowy have been a memorable pair throughout their careers, but their failures on Olympic ice will unfortunately be a part of their legacy.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, USA
The Team USA pair weren't expected to make much noise on the Sochi stage, but they certainly left their mark.
Boston natives Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir attempted the first ever throw quad, but came up short after Castelli stood up on her landing on both skates. While their routine paled in comparison to that of the Germans and Russians, the U.S. Figure Skating Twitter account congratulated the pair:
A young duo heading into the 2014 Winter Olympics, Castelli and Shnapir have a lot of potential to continue building from their first experience on the Olympic stage.
Tara Lipinski, a former gold medalist from the 1998 Winter Olympics and an analyst for NBC during the event, spoke about the pair during the telecast in an interview with Al Michaels on NBC Sports Network:
They had a great program. I feel that after the team event they gained all of this confidence. So when they took the ice, they really took command. You could tell they were almost a different team.
For the next four years, we might be seeing a lot of them.
With a few outstanding performances on the world's biggest stage for the sport, Castelli and Shnapir could be due for a breakout for Team USA in the coming years.
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