Senior ManagerOf all the sports that are competed in at the Winter Olympics, figure skating is one of the few with a partial subjective judging system that helps determine scores, standings and medal contenders. Unfortunately, with subjectivity comes chance for personal feelings, affiliations and influences to get involved, meaning that the person or pair with the most technical ability or creative skill doesn’t always get the score they deserve. Over the years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and more predominantly, the International Skating Union (ISU) have tried to combat corruption in judging by changing the required elements in the short and long (free) programs in terms of jumps, lifts and footwork sequences as well as creative elements in an attempt to have skaters construct programs that will show off their abilities without penalizing them too much for taking risks. One of the biggest judging scandals in recent memory actually led to the complete revamp of the scoring system in figure skating – when Russian pair Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze beat out Canadians Sale & Pelletier for gold after the Canadians skated what many commentators dubbed, ‘a perfect, clean skate.”
Watch The 2002 Salt Lake Pairs Results: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRWHwt91oj0 After the competition was over the French judge admitted that she felt pressure to score the Russians better than the Canadians no matter how they skated. For this the judge was barred for judging for 3 years and also from the 2006 Olympics. Sale & Pelletier was also upgraded to a gold medal, with Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze being able to keep their gold medals as well. L’Équipe, has apparently uncovered an unlikely alliance looking to help keep each other on the podium. It is being alleged that Russia and the United States have made a deal to keep the Canadians out of contention for gold while giving the advantage to their own teams. The French publication identifies their source as an ‘unnamed Russian judge,’ “…the United States intended to help Russia win the overall team event and the pairs competition. In return, Russia would make sure the Americans Charlie White and Meryl Davis won the ice dancing competition.” As for the other two competitions, men’s and women’s, Russia is believed to have the upper hand with four-time Evgeni Plushenko already winning the men’s team event and the spotlight stealing Julia Lipnitskaia winning for the women. dismissing the claims made by the French newspaper, “I’ve seen absolutely no evidence apart from what I’ve read in the [L’Equipe] and we’ll treat that as a bit of gossip with no grounds.” He says that it will be up to the ISU to investigate these claims if they feel there is reason to. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only trouble being encountered by Canadian figure skaters. Canadian team officials have been wondering aloud if their athletes are being unfairly targeted for doping tests. Although it is known that as an Olympic athlete you can be asked to submit to a drug test at any point, they usually occur on training days or after the athletes compete; not at midnight the night before their skate, or during their pre-competition nap. Sounds like an attempt to throw the skaters off their focus. Let’s hope these new claims of backroom dealings and judge fixing are untrue. The real losers when it comes to situations like these are really the athletes, no matter their country. They are the ones who put in the endless hours of practice to better themselves and they should get the awards and finishes they deserve based on that; not who their country is best friends with behind the scenes.
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