Figure skating results cause uproar

Kim+Yu-na%2C+Adelina+Sotnikova+and+Carolina+Kostner+stand+on+the+podium+after+the+women%27s+figure+skating+event.%0A%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Olympics.org.

Kim Yu-na, Adelina Sotnikova and Carolina Kostner stand on the podium after the women's figure skating event. Photo courtesy of Olympics.org.

Yena Seo

Dozens of Tweets from Jefferson students could be found the morning of Feb. 20 as fans were eager to see the reigning Olympic champion in women’s figure skating, South Korea’s Kim Yu-na, return to the sport she had dominated four years earlier. Fresh off of a win at the 2013 World Championships and an excellent short program on Feb. 19 choreographed to “Send in the Clowns,” Kim was the heavy favorite going into the event.

However, figure skating fans and Olympic viewers were shocked when Kim was beaten by Russian teenager Adelina Sotnikova, who had just trailed behind Kim after the short program. Even more so, Sotnikova’s free skate score was only 0.11 points off of the world record Kim had set at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, despite Sotnikova’s two-footed landing after a triple loop jump.

“I was extremely disappointed in not the results of the ladies’ figure skating competition, but the blatant inflation of skaters from the hosting nation,” junior Jenny Kim said. “Yu-na had an electrifying performance yet her grace, artistry and technicality was underscored.”

Sotnikova ended up beating Yu-na by approximately five points, which is considered to be a sizable margin in figure skating. Even more controversy erupted, however, when several of the judges were revealed. A Ukrainian judge, Yuri Balkov, had been suspended for a year after being caught trying to meddle with the judging at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. A Russian judge, Alla Shekhovtesa, is currently married to the director of the Russian figure skating federation. Four judges out of the nine-person panel were from former Soviet bloc nations.

“I believe that whenever the host country wins gold, there is always speculation as to whether or not there was bias,” sophomore Shohin Gupta said. “In a sport such as ice skating, there is bound to be decisions made which seem unfair.”

Renowned figure skaters and experts were quick to point fingers. Ashley Wagner, a West Potomac High School graduate who was skating for the United States this year, spoke publicly her disappointment in the judging at the Olympics and the need for transparency. Former Olympian Michael Weiss made several comments on his Twitter, pointing out his disagreement with Sotnikova’s win over Kim. Additionally, comments were made about Russian sensation Yulia Lipnitskaia, and how despite a fall in both her long and short programs, she managed to place higher than Wagner, who had a virtually clean program.

“Whether the points were inflated in favor of Adelina is hard to tell; I honestly thought Yu-na’s jumps were higher and covered greater distance and had more flow during her routine, but hey, I’m not an international skating judge,” senior Anna Seo, a figure skater, said. “One medal doesn’t define a skater’s ability and Yu-na will always be known as one of the best figure skaters in the world even after she retires.”