Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke simply believes that South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim “never stood a chance” against the “seemingly biased panel of judges” from the old Soviet bloc on Thursday night in Sochi that awarded a controversial gold to a Russian skater on home ice.
Kim, considered to have turned in a superior performance and one of the greatest skaters of all time, has never finished off the podium in any event in her career. The definition of clutch. And she turned in what analysts called a “breathtaking” and “spectacular” “performance for the ages.” She capped off her historic career by getting on the podium, but it was for silver:
The brilliantly graceful South Korean queen of figure skating did everything necessary to retain her Olympic crown Thursday night while facing a feisty Russian kid in an arena filled with fanatical Russian fans.
Yuna Kim never stood a chance.
Some would call it scandal, others would call it skating, but common sense would call what happened at the Iceberg Skating Palace just plain wrong.
Plaschke also noted the gamesmanship that went on before Kim skated:
When it was finally Kim’s turn to skate, the arena fell nearly silent. The pressure built when the judges made her wait on the ice several minutes longer than normal while calculating the scores for Wagner, the previous skater.
While Wagner jokingly held out her hands with impatience, Kim slowly circled the ice again, and again, and again as if slowly losing steam.
Plaschke seemed to agree with USA Today’s Christine Brennan that the Cold War was still alive in figure skating:
Or was it so strange? One of the nine judges, Yuri Balkov of Ukraine, served a suspension after the 1998 Olympics for attempting to fix the ice dancing. Another judge, Russian Alla Shekhovtseva, is married to the former Russian skating federation president.
Scandal or skating? You decide. As for Kim, by the time they finally let her skate, she gave a flawless performance that should have been enough to keep the crown. She did one fewer jump than Sotnikova, which cost her technically and accounted for the difference in the overall scores. But Sotnikova stepped out of one of her jumps, and, though she was more aggressive than Kim, she wasn’t nearly as artistic.