Another Olympics, Another Figure Skating Judging Scandal

Meryl Davis and Charlie White perform in the Team Short Dance event at the Iceberg at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 08, 2014. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia Olympic Team

Meryl Davis and Charlie White perform in the Team Short Dance event at the Iceberg at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 08, 2014.  The Americans and Russians were accused by a an anonymous Russian coach of colluding to fix the figure skating events. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia Olympic Team

Following the ice dancing short dance team events, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White were approached by the media with questions regarding an alleged scandal involving the trading of first place finishes between the Russians and the United States. An anonymous senior Russian judged leaked the supposed barter to the media during the ice dance portion of the team event last night.

This supposed trade would give the Russians the gold in the team event, and would secure a first place finish for Davis and White in the ice dance event, denying Tessa Virtue and Scott Moyer the a repeat gold at the games (they edged out Davis and White in Vancouver four years ago).

United States Figure Skating denied the allegations. “Comments made in a L’Equipe story are categorically false,” said the federation in a statement. “There is no ‘help’ between countries. We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture.”

Not to belittle the severity of these allegations, but it seems that this supposed trade is irrelevant; Russia totally dominated every discipline, except ice dancing, on merit alone.

Plushenko’s highlight reel of awesome. (.gif via Fansided)

Without question, Evgeny Plushenko, who is competing in his fourth Olympics, showed the world that at 31-years-old he can still put on a top-notch performance. Teen ladies singles competitor Yulia Lipnitskaya has been phenomenal since she was 12 years old, and has only matured to an even more precise and elegant skater. The best of this Russian team might just be the pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, whose performance finished a full 10 points ahead of the flawless pair of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada. Additionally, Virtue and Moyer didn’t look their best today when Virtue bobbled a transition on their side-by-side twizzles.

Volosozhar and Trankov dazzle. (.gif via Fansided)

Not only is this allegation harmful to the US and Russian figure skating programs, this is a detrimental blow to the sport as a whole. Figure Skating already has a difficult way to go when it comes to being recognized as a true sport. Scoring is totally subjective, no matter what anyone tells you, and the “old boys club” mentality (although it’s probably more like Gossip Girl) of the skating community sometimes leaves even the youngest amateur skaters disappointed after testing and competition. Even at the lowest levels there are instances of judges overlooking the rules in favor of “helping” skaters that are coached by friends of the judging panel, and favorites are played at the rink all the time.

Even if this scandal proves untrue, which it likely is because let’s be real, the Americans and the Russians cooperating on something in figure skating would be as likely as the Boston-New York sports rivalry coming to an end, the negative media attention has shrouded this discipline in the Olympics that already has plenty of skeletons in its closet.

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8 thoughts on “Another Olympics, Another Figure Skating Judging Scandal

  1. Wow! I hadn’t heard about this and I really hope it isn’t true. I have been watching the team skating competition and Davis/White have performed beautifully (of course, I don’t know all the technical stuff) so I would hate to see this come to light as true.

    • Davis/White DID perform beautifully, and honestly I still don’t even think that was their best. I think they’re going to lay it all out on the ice a week from now when their individual event happens. They’re out for blood, even though they wouldn’t ever tell you that.

  2. I too saw Davis/White on TV yesterday. I think the allegations are relatively unfounded or at least I hope. One thing I found so interesting is that Davis/White share a coach with Canadians Virtue/Moir. It was bizarre to watch the coach put on a Canadian sweatshirt when they performed and then replace the sweatshirt with a Team USA one when Davis/White went on the ice.

    • Marina Zoueva, Meryl, Charlie, Tessa and Scott’s coach, isn’t the only coach to have two teams compete against each other on the world’s stage. A few years ago, Frank Caroll, who is now Gracie Gold’s coach, coached both Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen when they were competing against one another. The skating community is relatively small, and there are few coaches as good as Zoueva, so it makes a lot of sense that she coaches the two best dance teams in the world.

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