SOCHI, RUSSIA – Two days after the shocking decision that gave Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova the gold medal over defending Olympic champion Yuna Kim, the controversy surrounding the move shows no signs of abating.
News sites around the world were buzzing with reaction to the decision on Thursday night, which saw Kim deprived of a second straight gold in favor of the 17-year-old from the host nation of the Sochi Games.
Stories about the voting of the judges in the women’s free skate were the most-viewed topic on several major sites throughout the globe.
The IOC said Friday that it had not received a formal complaint yet about the judging, but the International Skating Union felt compelled to release a statement just before midnight addressing what can only be classified as a scandal.
“Pursuant to contacts with the IOC, the ISU would like to issue the following statement on the ISU judging system related to figure skating events at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games:
“The ISU is strongly committed to conducting performance evaluations strictly and fairly and has adequate procedures in place to ensure the proper running of the sporting competitions. The officiating judges were selected by random drawing from a pool of 13 potential judges. All judges in an event represent different ISU member federations. The ladies free skating panel included judges from Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. To avoid exaggerated markings the highest and the lowest scores entered by the judges are excluded to produce the final score. The technical panel determines the elements of each performed program. The judges add a mark, grading the quality of the skater’s execution of the elements so identified. The technical marks and the artistic presentation marks are added together to produce the final score of the skater.
“The ISU has not received any official protest with regard to the Ladies Free Skating event or any other event held during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and is confident in the high quality and integrity of the ISU judging system.”
The statement had all the markings of a preemptive strike, done to try and prevent the controversy from growing even more. The reality is that it has only fanned the flames.
It appears that the ISU is almost daring the Korean Skating Union to protest the decision.
“The South Korean team in Sochi has politely requested the Korean Skating Union to ask ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta to review the women’s figure skating singles (to see) if it followed the rules of ISU standards,” said a statement on Saturday.
To break down exactly what happened — and how Kim was robbed of repeating as Olympic champion — one needs to take a look at the judging panel for the free skate.
Four of the nations represented (Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Estonia) were former Eastern bloc nations. The Russian judge was Alla Shekhovtseva, who is married to the general director of the Russian Skating Federation. The Ukrainian judge was Yuri Balkov, who was suspended for a year after trying to fix the ice dancing event at the 1998 Nagano Games.
The technical panel — made up of three individuals — that determines the levels of spins and whether jumps are underrotated or downgraded was led by Alexander Lakernik. His regular job — vice president of the Russian
Once again, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out what went down here. It was a conspiracy.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo posted a story with the copy of the scoring for Wednesday’s short program, showing how seven of the nine judges gave Kim higher marks, but the two others went with Sotnikova by a huge margin.
When Sotnikova came out of the short program trailing Kim by less than a point, it was obvious that the fix was in. Kim should have had a lead of four points or so, which would have made it more difficult to overtake her in the free skate.
For a great champion like Kim to be denied a second Olympic title because of this is a complete outrage.
USA Today’s Christine Brennan, one of the top skating writers in the world, quoted an Olympic judge who was not on the women’s panel on Sotnikova’s scores.
The judge said Sotnikova “was not worthy of the marks she got. The Russian audience for sure influenced her marks.”
Then the judge, an expert in the field, delivered the conclusion that so many others have arrived at.
“Kim was so much better than Adelina in all aspects,” the judge said. “Both (Carolina) Kostner and Kim were better than Adelina.”