The best competition overall (SP+FS) was of course Yu-Na's in 2013, because she performed everything perfectly (just as in Vancouver), not making a single mistake and, even if those two programs weren't her best, she deserves first place for sure; her Sochi programs are behind for me (probably around 4th-5th place), since she evidently made a small mistake in the FS (not a good landing in the second 3Lz, which was slightly UR) and more than that her programs didn't seem to have the same energy and impact of some of her past performances.
Mao's 2014 competition was really good, too, since she came back after that disastrous Olympic event and skated her best SP ever and a very good FS, but for me Carolina's programs in 2012 are even better, emotionally. Of course she's far far behind Asada in terms of jumps (Carolina had a mistake in the SP and didn't ahve the lutz in the FS), but artistically I think her Mozart FS was the best of the quad, it was the only one that had that sheer quality of holding the crowd in her hands, not wasting a single beat of the music, and really "living" the performance, from the tension in her eyes at the beginning until the pure joy during the step sequence at the end, perfectly following the musical structure of the piece. Janet Lynn, Michelle Kwan or Chen Lu's Rachmaninoff come to my mind as examples of what I mean... Maybe it's because I'm Italian and I'm a big Carolina fan, but I really think that program and that performance were special, more than a lot of things she did before and after it (Bolero was sublime, but it didn't have the same qualities): the perfect one to win a WC.
And then there are Adelina and Miki: the first one really skated wonderfully, but isn't in the same league as Yu-Na, Mao and Carolina artistically, when for Miki her programs were made for the jumps, all she wanted was landing them and skating clean, even if her SP was a huge exception, maybe her only "emotional" program ever.
So, objectively, my ranking is identical to anyanka's, but emotionally I have
I think I'd go with..
Really, none of them were overwhelmingly great. Kim's and Ando's were clean but didn't have much sparkle, Mao's was very unclean, Sotnikova's was controversial in result and not completely clean, as well as not being artistically wonderful. Kostner was clean, IIRC, but the technical content she included wasn't high, especially for a World Champion.
What would the rankings be if we swapped Asada's Worlds LP for her Olympics LP?
^In that case, I'd put Mao at #1, no question. Her Worlds SP + Olympics LP should be, imo, unbeatable by anyone in the field right now. Technically unmatched, and huge emotional resonance in both programs.
I would go with:
1. Asada 2014
2. Kim 2013
3. Sotnikova 2014
4. Ando 2011
5. Kostner 2012
1) Kim 2014 O
2) Kim 2013 W
3) Kostner 2014 O
4) Asada 2014 W
5) Lipniskaya 2014 O (team) & Sotnikova 2014 O
To me, clean performances at the Olympics are always more memorable and impressive.