Was Yuna Kim Robbed? Wife of Russian Skating Fed. Pres., Judge Suspended for Fixing Matches Put on Panel
A judge that was once suspended for being caught on tape trying to fix an Olympic figure skating contest and another who is the wife of the president of the Russian skating federation were on a panel that awarded a controversial and suspicious gold medal to a Russian figure skater that stumbled during her free skate programThursday night in Sochi, Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Looks like this may have been way more than home-ice advantage for the Russian skater, Adelina Sotnikova, who won the gold even though nearly everyone thought South Korea's "Queen Yuna" Kim and Italy's Carolina Kostner skated much better programs.
According to Christine Brennan of USA Today:
One of the nine judges who picked a young Russian skater over two more refined competitors for the Olympic gold medal Thursday night was suspended for a year for trying to fix an event at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.
And another is the wife of the president of the Russian figure skating federation. Another Olympics, another huge skating controversy involving the countries of the former Soviet Union
Brennan reported that judges and skaters who were watching the competition were stunned:
"I was surprised with the result," Joseph Inman, a top U.S. international judge who was on the women's panel at the 2002 Olympics, said in a telephone interview.
"That's not fair to see Carolina and Yuna, who have great skating skills and had great skating tonight -- good jumps, nice presence on the ice, maturity, expression -- could be six points behind somebody who has tremendous skill but is just coming out of juniors," said Gwendal Peizerat, the 2002 ice dancing gold medalist from France, who is a television commentator here.
"Compared to Carolina, compared to Yuna, something has happened."
Because the scoring is now anonymous, Brennan said what happened in Sochi was worse than what happened in 2002, when Russian and French judges were caught trying to fix a skating competition at the Salt Lake City Games:
What happened tonight in the women's figure skating competition was worse than the 2002 Salt Lake City pairs judging scandal because, this time, we'll never find out who might have done what because all the judges' scores are now anonymous. In 2002, French judge Marie-Reine LeGougne's scores were easily identifiable. But in 2004, the International Skating Union adopted a new judging system in which all judges scores are now totaled into two numbers: a total element score and a total program component score.
The idea "was to help eliminate bloc judging and cheating, but the result is that the system now hides, and even can protect, those who are not playing by the rules."
Brennan reported that the "nine judges for the short and long programs are chosen by draw from a pool of 13, with eight of the judges only working one event or the other. Judges from the United States, South Korea, Great Britain and Sweden were not chosen to work the women's long program after being on the women's short program panel the night before."
They were replaced by "Ukrainian Yuri Balkov, who was kicked out of judging for a year after being tape-recorded by a Canadian judge trying to fix the Nagano ice dancing competition, and Alla Shekhovtseva, a Russian judge who is married to Russian federation president Valentin Pissev." The two other judges "were from Estonia and France, which was the country that conspired with Russia to try to fix the pairs and ice dancing competition at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City."
"The (judging) panel made me wish that the United States and Canada had split up into many different countries," choreographer Lori Nichol, who works with Kostner and fourth-place finisher Gracie Gold of the United States, among others, told Brennan. "It certainly was a different panel tonight."
In the days of the Soviet Union, "only one judge represented the entire country, all its republics. Now, judges from several former Soviet republics can be on one panel, as was the case Thursday night."
"People need to be held accountable," American Ashley Wagner said. "They need to get rid of the anonymous judging. There are many changes that need to come to this sport if we want a fan base because you can't depend on this sport to always be there when you need it. ... This sport needs to be held more accountable with its system if they want people to believe in it."
After the free skate, Breitbart Sports wrote:
They call her the Michael Jordan of figure skating. But on Thursday night in Sochi, South Korea's Yuna Kim discovered there were no "Jordan rules" in Russia as "Queen Yuna" stunningly and controversially won silver in her attempt to be the third figure skater in history to win back-to-back golds. In fact, the opposite may have applied to her.
Adelina Sotnikova of Russia won the country's first-ever women's figure skating gold on home ice with some questionable scoring that has already generated plenty of buzz and controversy for all the wrong reasons. Sotnikova was described as the "chosen one" in an Olympics marred by rumors of potential fixes being in for the Russians in a sport notorious for shady activity (see: ice dancing at the 2002 Winter Olympics).
Consider this: Sotnikova did not land all of her jumps cleanly, yet scored 149.95 in the free skate. Yuna Kim scored 144.19 and Italy's Carolina Kostner scored 142.61. In 2010, Yuna Kim shattered the world record at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in what was hailed by nearly every figure skating analyst as one of the greatest performances in the history of the sport. Yuna's score then? 150.06. That's barely above what Sotnikova received with a performance in which she did not even land all of her jumps correctly.
Those watching and commentating on the event scratched their heads when Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya, who fell twice and stumbled around on the ice, received higher technical marks than Japan's Mao Asada, who turned in a world-class and flawless free skate after stumbling to 16th after the short program.
Things got stranger when Sotnikova stumbled and two-footed a landing, yet still received far superior technical marks than Kostner.
Kim was the final skater on the night. And the woman who has what is unquestionably the most difficult routine, hit all of her elements. Though Sotnikova had one more jump in her routine, Kim's degree of difficulty was greater on the non-jump elements. Yet Sotnikova got perfect marks on all of her spins and footwork while Yuna, doing more difficult elements and considered the world's best at them, got a couple of subpar marks from the judges that were enough to make the difference.