Figure skating's final event, the non-judged gala exhibition, took place on Saturday. As always, it was one final chance for the champions of the Sochi Games to show off, other skaters to perform one last routine and, of course, a few skaters to let loose and have some fun without the pressures of a medal on the line.
While it is always a privilege getting to see the gold-medal winners perform one last time, the highlight of the Sochi gala had to be Yuna Kim taking the ice for one last time on the Olympic stage, skating to a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine."
From Nancy Armour of USA Today:
And with that, @Yunaaaa leaves Olympic ice for the last time.— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) February 22, 2014
The event closed with a spotlight on Kim and the gold-medalists, along with Canada's Patrick Chan, all pointing toward Kim. It was a symbolic passing of the torch to South Korea, as the 2018 Games will be held in Pyeongchang. It was a nice moment, and fitting that the skating concluded with Queen Yuma in the spotlight one last time.
Here's the medalists addressing the crowd, per Christine Brennan of USA Today:
The Olympic gold medalists and silver medalist Patrick Chan thank the crowd. pic.twitter.com/s9MBdvrwSX— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 22, 2014
According to Nick McCarvel of NBC Sports, Kim seemed to enjoy the event quite a bit:
One of the more memorable performances on the evening was Gracie Gold's, per Armour:
Not sure how well "Chicago" translates to Russian fans, but @GraceEGold show program really, really good. Definitely in gala medal hunt— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) February 22, 2014
Plus, in the mixed zone—yes, the gala had a mixed zone—Gold said she has big aspirations for the coming year From McCarvel:
Gutsy Gracie: Gold says in mixed zone she wants to win Worlds this year. "I think it's a possibility." #Sochi2014— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) February 22, 2014
Another highlight of the evening—at least for a United States audience—was getting to see ice-dancing champions Charlie White and Meryl Davis perform one last time. And even better, White live-tweeted from the event:
We're having a great time here at the gala! I'm on a real mission with this "live tweet". Seems like the crowd is enjoying #GalaDay— Charlie White (@CharlieaWhite) February 22, 2014
Of course, for the home Russian crowd, seeing the gold-medal pairs team, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov was a huge highlight of the evening. From McCarvel:
But if you wanted the most memorable performance of the night, well, that had to go to Spain's Javier Hernandez, whose performance went from a Richard Simmons-esque aerobics routine to him stripping down to unveil a superhero costume and cape. Long live Super Javi!
The real skating at the Olympics is officially over. Javier Fernandez as Super Javi in the exhibition: pic.twitter.com/jTCQHJxWwR— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 22, 2014
Armour offered up her picks for the podium if such a thing existed at the gala:
All in all, it was a fun way to conclude the figure skating in Sochi and perhaps offer a preview of things to come in Pyeongchang. Skaters like Gold and Russia's Adelina Sotnikova and Yulia Lipnitskaya will surely be in contention for a gold in 2018.
Four years certainly seems a long way off. And four years without Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir announcing the action—for those of you unlucky enough to miss them during the daytime coverage, they were a treat—seems even further away.
A lot of stars were made in Sochi. We look forward to seeing as many of them as possible in Pyeongchang.