South Korea protests women's figure skating result
Koreans say biased judging cost Yuna Kim 2nd gold
The South Korean Olympic Committee has protested the results of the women’s event, believing biased judging prevented Yuna Kim from defending her figure skating gold medal.
The International Skating Union said Saturday that it has yet to receive an official letter from the South Koreans, and ISU rules stipulate any protest must be submitted immediately after the event.
Adelina Sotnikova of Russian stunned many observers by winning gold in the women’s event on Thursday.
Kim led the short program and some former world and Olympic champions, including Canada’s Kurt Browning and Katarina Witt, felt the 2010 Olympic champion outskated Sotnikova in both programs.
Witt, skating under the East German flag, was the last woman to successfully defend her Olympic title.
The outrage centres around Sotnikova’s performance in the free skate, where Browning and others felt she lacked sufficient artistry to compete with Kim. Her marks, however, told a different story as they were comparable or higher than Kim’s.
Sotnikova’s technical scores were also significantly higher.
The scores even surprised the 17-year-old Russian, who became her nation’s first skater to win Olympic gold in ladies event.
"I won. It's my gold medal. I can't believe it,” said Sotnikova after her victory. “Two years ago, all of my competitions were very bad. I didn't know if I had what it takes to be successful. Now I know that I do. I'm surprised. My coach was surprised," she said after her skate. "I'm lucky to have won. I'm so thankful that I won and I'm so thankful to my coaches."
In the end, the Russian beat her personal best score by staggering 18 points in just a month. She received a 149.95, which is only 0.11 of a point lower than Kim’s world record set at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"How the hell were Yuna and Sotnikova so close in the components, I just don't get it?" Browning said following the competition.
"Yuna Kim outskated her, full stop,” Browning said. “I'm shocked. What, suddenly, she just became a better skater overnight? I don't know what happened. I'm still trying to figure it out."
In regards to the South Korean media reports of the protest, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said Saturday that the matter falls to the ISU, but he doesn’t see any scenario where the judge’s scores would be overturned.
"They have their processes and regulations," Adams said. "From what I understand the letter wouldn't trigger any investigation."
The ISU issued a statement late Friday reiterating its confidence in the sports’ judging system.
"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 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 judges were selected at random from a pool of 13 potential candidates from federations around the world, including Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
This isn’t the first time in Sochi that allegations have targeted potential judging misconduct.
Prior to the beginning of the new figure skating team event in Sochi, French magazine L'Equipe alleged the U.S. and Russia struck a deal to help each other out at in three events.
The magazine quoted an anonymous Russian coach, who said that the U.S. agreed to help Russia win the pairs figure skating and team events. In exchange, Russia would ensure the Americans would win the ice dance competition.
The Russians eventually won the team event, with Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov taking the pairs competition.
Charlie White and Meryl Davis became Americans first ever ice dance champions, leaving Canadians and 2010 gold medallist Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue with the silver.
(With files from Reuters and The Associated Press)