Another exciting Winter Olympic Games has already been and gone this year, with events in Pyeongchang keeping us all hooked to our screens for weeks on end. While every winter event has its own dedicated fanbase, there's something particularly special about the figure skating competitions. We get to watch in awe as the world's most talented skaters glide across the ice with more grace than we could ever hope to muster. They complete incredible technical feats, perform beautiful routines both alone and in teams, and generally take our breath away. Sure, there's the odd mishap here and there, but that happens in every sport from time to time. At least a few skaters are bound to fall over each year!
Of course, figure skating isn't just entertaining for its beauty and grace. It's also a notoriously hilarious event thanks to the weird faces and bizarre poses that its skaters pull. While a spectacular fall is bound to create an awkward but funny photo opportunity, even successful routines can spawn some amusing snaps if they're captured at just the wrong moment. From novices to gold medallists, no skater is ever truly safe from the dreaded unphotogenic skating face. Here are just some examples of figure skaters who were photographed at the worst possible time.
16 Deniss Vasiljevs Was Caught Looking Very Suspicious Mid-Jump
Latvian figure skater Deniss Vasiljevs is something of a teen prodigy back home in Latvia. Despite being just 18 years old, he's the only Latvian skater in history to earn a medal at the ISU Junior Grand Prix tournament. He won two medals at the 2016 Youth Olympics and seems to have a bright future ahead of him. However, that doesn't mean he's immune to pulling the silly faces that all skaters endure from time to time. This hilarious shot was captured at the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, and it shows poor Deniss looking less than comfortable while on the rink. In fact, he almost looks like he's suspicious of something - or someone! Was a rogue audience member trying to distract him, or was he just concentrating so hard that he lost control of his facial expressions? Probably the latter, to be honest.
15 These German Skaters Were Clearly Very Shocked By Something...
You'd think that these two German figure skaters had just seen a ghost, judging by the shocked expressions they're wearing! In fact, Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi were probably just caught unawares during an especially intense routine. This pretty amusing photo was captured during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating back in 2013 and reflects just how theatrical this dance was. Zhiganshina and Gazsi donned Halloween-themed costumes and pulled off a suitably spooky dance. This pair has been performing together for over a decade now - they have a pretty successful partnership going on. Despite their often eccentric facial expressions, they're two of Germany's most successful skaters, winning twelve international medals so far. We hope at least one of those is for "Best Shocked Faces in The History Of The Sport." As this photo proves, they've earned it!
14 Bradie Tennell Looks Like She's In Pain - Or About To Fall
At the age of just 20, Bradie Tennell has become one of the most promising American figure skaters of her generation. She recently walked away from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with a bronze medal and is currently ranked thirtieth in the world at her sport. Nice! While Tennell is undoubtedly excellent at what she does, this photo doesn't exactly show her at her best. Sure, her flexibility in the shot is impressive, but she looks a bit like she's in pain! In reality, she was probably just concentrating on nailing this move... But still! Tennell's facial expression also suggests more than a little bit of panic. While she's had a couple of falls in her career - who hasn't - we hope this wasn't one of them. Can you imagine how painful it would be to fall while clutching your skates like that? Ouch!
13 China's Li Xiangning Was Pulling A Pretty Weird Expression During Her Skate
Li Xiangning made Olympics debut this year at Pyeongchang, representing China despite being just 17 years old. Seriously - all of these talented young skaters put the rest of us to shame! Li has been skating competitively for five years now, and already has a few medals under her belt. She won her first international medal last September, placing silver at the International Cup of Nice. While she only made it to 22nd place at the Olympics, she still did well for a first-time competitor! Unfortunately for Li, her first Olympic skate also brought her first hilarious facial expression photo. We're not quite sure what she's doing here - or where her teeth have gone - but it's not really a good look. She'll have to get used to shots like this as she moves on in her burgeoning career, though! Pulling weird faces is all part of being a successful skater.
12 Poor Keegan Messing Was Caught In This Very Unflattering Pose
Oh, Keegan Messing. You may be one of the most promising Canadian-American figure skaters out there, but you sure know how to pull an unphotogenic facial expression. What's even going on here? It looks like Messing was mid-spin judging by his hair-swishing. While it's an impressive move to pull off, it clearly doesn't do good things for the face. The grimace says it all, really. Still, we think Messing can be forgiven for this painful picture considering his pretty phenomenal track record. He recently achieved a personal best score in free skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics, placing 12th overall. He's won the International Cup of Nice twice and last year placed silver in the Canadian Championship. Plus, his mop of curly hair is incredibly majestic. All in all, Messing is a skater to watch. His performances are only getting better - as are his hilarious facial expressions!
11 This Intense Eyeroll From Takahiko Kozuka Probably Wasn't Deliberate...
This has to be equally one of the most terrifying and funny figure skater shots we've ever seen. Takahiko Kozuka is seen here either transforming into some kind of zombie or just concentrating really hard mid-skate. It's for you to decide. Either way, we doubt he intended to pull this scary-but-amusing eye roll expression. Also, what's going on with his hair? This was clearly just a bad moment for Kozuka! Still, we doubt he cared very much about what he looked like mid-skate. While he's now retired from skating, his medals record is incredibly impressive. Kozuka won the Japanese National Championship, the World Junior Championship, and the JGP Final during his fifteen-year career. On top of that, he bagged numerous international silver and bronze medals and placed 8th at the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's a shame that a tendinitis diagnosis prematurely ended his career!
10 Was Mirai Nagasu In Pain, Or About To Sneeze? You Decide
Oh dear - what an unfortunate photo of the USA's Mirai Nagasu! It was taken at this year's Winter Olympics, during a team event that ultimately earned her country a bronze medal. Is she about to sneeze here, or is she in pain? She looks a bit like she's going to cry! Still, this photo is nowhere near the best thing to come out of Nagasu's recent Olympic stint. During this very same team competition, she became the first American woman - and only the third woman in history - to land a notoriously difficult triple axel at the Olympics. She's also only the second American woman to land such a move in any international competition, after the notorious ex-skater Tonya Harding. This is only the tip of the iceberg of Nagasu's incredible career achievements so far. She's definitely earned the right to pull a ridiculous face every now and then!
9 Italy's Matteo Guarise Took An Awkward Tumble On The Ice, To The Annoyance Of His Partner
While it's generally difficult to make falling on the ice look graceful, it looks like Matteo Guarise didn't even try at all. This Italian skater found himself bottoms-up during a duo routine with countrywoman Della Monica at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Needless to say, Monica looks less than impressed. Even Guarise himself looks totally resigned to the fact he messed up. How do you come back from a fall like that? The routine wasn't a total disaster for the pair - they ended up placing 16th overall, meaning they qualified for the next stage of the competition! A lucky escape for them... Unfortunately, things didn't improve in the free skate and Guarise and Monica ended up placing last. Things got better at this year's competition: they made it up to 10th! Guarise is clearly managing to learn from his pretty embarrassing mistake.
8 Only One Of These Skaters Seems To Be Fully Enjoying Themselves...
This photo of American figure skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White is one of two halves emotionally. While Davis looks to be having the time of her life, White's expression suggests a combination of fear and stress. To be fair, he was competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics at the time - it's enough to make even the most seasoned skater a bit nervous! Ultimately, though Davis and White had no cause to worry. Thanks to this performance, they became the first Americans to ever win a gold Olympic medal in ice dancing! Congratulations to them! They also helped to win their country's team a bronze medal overall. After this hugely successful 2014 season, Davis and White decided to retire from competitive skating. Can you blame them? It's always best to end on a high, and you don't get much better than a historic Olympic gold!
7 Even Meagan Duhamel's Partner Had No Idea What Was Going On Here
Eric Radford's face says it all in this hilarious shot from the 2018 Winter Olympics. What is Meagan Duhamel even doing here?! It looks like being caught mid-twirl really isn't a good look for even the best skater. Still look at her biceps! We've got some serious muscle envy thanks to this shot. Despite Duhamel pulling this incredibly weird expression, she and her fellow Canadian Radford had a very successful time at the games this year. Not only did they win a bronze medal as a pair, they also helped Canada to win gold in the team event! Duhamel and Radford also broke records during their individual pairs free skate, becoming the first duo to execute a clean quadruple throw jump at any Olympic games. No wonder these two have won seven consecutive Canadian National Championships from 2012 to 2018! They're insanely good!
6 There Is Literally Nothing Flattering About This Photo Of Oleksii Bychenko
Where do we even begin with this photo of Israeli figure skater Oleksii Bychenko? There is literally nothing good about it. Honestly, whoever took this should be commended for managing to take one of the worst pictures of a figure skater we've ever seen. Bychenko is a pretty good looking guy under normal circumstances, but whatever move he was executing here really didn't show off his best assets. His eyes just look creepy - where have his pupils gone?! His hair has gone a bit wild thanks to his swift movements, and his mouth... Well, while his teeth are lovely, the tongue hanging out is a bit gross. This snap was taken at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where Bychenko didn't exactly fare well even outside of this photo. He placed 21st overall, a disappointing result. Things went much better for him in 2018, though! He's managed to work his way up to 11th, and also managed to avoid looking this unphotogenic for the second time. Good for him.
5 Yan Han Looks Like He's Singing Opera, Not Figure Skating
Well, this is a pretty intense photo of Chinese skater Yan Han! He looks like he's just broken into a very emotional opera solo! His pretty gothic outfit doesn't help matters either. Did he decide to audition for The Phantom of the Opera mid-skating performance? The men's final at the 2014 Winter Olympics wasn't the time or place, Han! Maybe this incredibly successful athlete should just stick to his skating. Yan has a string of awards and achievements to his name, most notably winning the Chinese National Championships three times over the last decade. He was also the champion of the 2013 Cup of China, the 2012 World Junior event, and the 2012 Youth Olympics. Nice! While Yan didn't fare too well at this year's Winter Olympics, placing 23rd, he at least won the most recent Cup of Nice competition. We're sure his Olympic time will come!
4 Poor Jeremy Abbott Had This Spectacular Fall Captured On Camera For All To See
Poor Jeremy Abbott's face says it all in this unfortunate and cringe-worthy shot. This American skater came crashing to the ground during a routine at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, much to the horror of everyone watching. He actually looks like he's about to cry! To be fair, you can kind of gather why. The now-retired skater was one of the best in the business during his prime, and he was expected to do very well at Sochi. Before traveling to Russia for the games, he'd come first in the 2014 U.S. Championships, just beating his teammate Jason Brown. Despite this tragic fall, Abbott's Olympic performance wasn't a total bust that year. He, along with Brown, helped his team to win a bronze medal overall. However, Abbott quit competitive skating in 2017, meaning he didn't have a chance to redeem his 2014 solo fall at this year's Pyeongchang Olympics.
3 This Lithuanian Pair's Fall Was Less Than Graceful On Many Accounts
This photo is an oldie, but a total figure skating classic. It has to be one of the least graceful falls ever, and it certainly left these Lithuanian skaters red-faced! Married couple Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas were competing at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics when they got into some trouble on the ice. While Drobiazko's stumble was fairly understated, her partner proceeded to faceplant right onto her chest area. It may look hilarious now, but it probably wasn't funny at the time! While Drobiazko and Vanagas retired from competitive shortly after the 2006 Olympics, they still hold a pretty important record over a decade on. They remain the first and only figure skaters to take part in five different Olympic Games. While they never managed to secure a medal, they still hit the heights of a pretty respectable 5th in 2002. Even this spectacular fall managed to land them 7th place in 2006! Impressive stuff!
2 You Can't Help But Feel Sorry For Mikhail Kolyada Thanks To This Photo
This fall at the recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics looks pretty painful as well as kind of embarrassing. This was young Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada's first time at the Games, and it ended with him landing right on his behind mid-performance. Kolyada is a popular skater back in Russia and already has a number of awards to his name. 2017 was an especially good year for him! Within that 12 months, Kolyada earned bronze medals at the European Championship and Grand Prix Final, as well as winning the 2017 Cup of China and becoming the Russian national champion. A lot of hopes were pinned on Kolyada in Pyeongchang, and to be fair, he didn't do too badly. He placed 8th in his event and helped his fellow Russian skaters to win silver in the team event. Still, you can't help but feel a little bit sorry for him after seeing this snap.
1 Of All The Faces Ziquan Zhao Could Have Pulled, This Wasn't The Most Flattering
It must be hard for a figure skater to know what facial expression to pull when they're mid-routine. It's hard to keep up a smile when you're spinning through the air, but you also don't want to look too miserable. We're not sure exactly what emotion China's Ziquan Zhao was going for in this photo, but it certainly wasn't the best choice she could have made. She looks partially terrified but also very uncomfortable! This picture comes from Zhao's performance at the 2016 World Championships in Boston, her first appearance in this particular competition. Despite being crowned Chinese champion earlier in the year, she only made 23rd in the international competition. Still, in her home country of China, Zhao is still an incredibly successful skater. She's come first or second in every Chinese Championship since the 2011/2012 season despite being just 20 years old now. She's clearly got a promising career ahead of her!