If there’s one thing the 2014 Sochi Olympics will be remember for, it’s the sign of intrigue. As I said in my previous blog post, the Ladies competition was gonna be close, exciting and devastating for those skaters who will miss out on the podium.
Adelina Sotnikova flew under the radar this season. (In fact, I didn’t even had her finishing in the top 10.) She was ranked 6th in the world by the International Skating Union. Her Grand Prix season could be described as “a mixed bag”, finishing 2nd at Cup of China and Trophee Bompard, before a horrible showing at the Grand Prix final, finishing 5th. Sotnikova performed a clean short program, hitting all the necessary elements to finish 2nd behind 2010 Gold Medalist Kim.
There were two significant factors that pulled into Sotnikova’s favor. One was the shocking collapse of Japan’s Mao Asada. Mao’s skate in the short program a complete disaster, falling on her first jump and losing focus the rest of the way to finish 16th. Asada recovered to finish 3rd in the long program and a 6th place overall finish.
The other factor was a abundantly generous set of scores by the judges. If you watch the latter portion of her Long Program, Sotnikova stepped out of an important triple/double/double combo. The judges either negated the discrepancy or completely ignored the two clean skates by defending Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim of Korea and Italy’s Carolina Kostner, who finished with the bronze medal.
Questions are now being fielded from western media sources involving favoritism involving the Russian skating officials and the ISU in order to guarantee Gold. One such investigation is by Christine Brennan of USA TODAY Sports questioning their selection. She wrote, “One of the nine judges who picked a young Russian skater over two more refined competitors for the Olympic gold medal Thursday night was suspended for a year for trying to fix an event at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano…And another is the wife of the president of the Russian figure skating federation.”
Skaters have gotten into the discussion whether anonymous judges should be outed. American Ashley Wagner, who finished 7th in the competition, discussed with called on more transparency of judging. “I feel gypped,” she said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports after the competition. “To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it. People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can’t depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable.”
Well, it’s not like I didn’t call it. After all, I did pick Kim to finish second for Silver. I did pick the Russian skater to win Gold…just not the skater I had in mind. Now the questions will fly out. Were the judges being swayed by the home crowd? Was someone paid off? We’ll never know the real reason why judges made their decisions. Never the less, it’s another black eye on this sport, one that will continue to lose credibility for their lack transparency.
Figure skating deserves better!