2014

Kim Yuna Wins Silver in Sochi- Robbed of Gold?

First of all, I would like to express that as a Korean, I am not and cannot be free of bias. 

Results

Kim Yuna (23) of Korea has won the silver medal in the ladies’ figure skating in Sochi, earning a total score of 219.11. She earned a score of 74.92 in the short program, and earned 144.19 in the free skate portion. She had clean programs for both, with what can only be described as pure beauty and elegance.  However, the gold medal went to Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova (17), who earned an overall score of 224.59 (SP- 74.64, FS- 149.95). She had a clean program for the short program, but not on the free skate, where she had a two-footed landing on a jump sequence. There is significant controversy over the decision. Both skaters undoubtedly performed beautifully. However, did Sotnikova deserve a gold medal? Did she really outperform Kim’s flawless programs, coming very close to the world record performance in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? Figure skating is a hugely subjective sport: it relies heavily on the judges’ discretion. Today, the results of the Ladies’ figure skating has left a question on whether the scoring can be relied on to be truly impartial. The scoring seems to have been biased towards certain athletes. Many believe that Kim Yuna has been robbed of a gold medal; Kim, most prominently, being under-scored while Sotnikova, and another Russian skater Yulia Lipnitskaya, being significantly over-scored.

Detailed Scoring Sheets of Short Program and Free Skate 

Short program detailed scoring sheet:

Short Program Detailed Scoring

Free skate detailed scoring sheet:

Yuna Kim Sotnikova

Here are the results for your perusal: look through it closely. Although randomized, the sheets show that the judges gave questionably high scores to Sotnikova and questionably low scores to Kim. Even though I am not a figure skating judge, the scoring does seem odd. Kim Yuna is a proven athlete, and she has broken multiple world records throughout her career. She has received consistently high scores, being the first one to break the 140 and 150 mark for the free skate, and the 200 mark for the overall score. She has won the gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, comfortably beating the then-world record she held herself. Kim was the overwhelming favorite, and most were sure that she would earn her second gold after her stunning performances in Sochi. Sotnikova, meanwhile, is an athlete no one expected to be on the podium. She has barely moved to seniors from the juniors. Did Sotnikova really outperform Kim, and more so with a large margin of 5.48?

Russian wins gold- In Sochi, Russia

The winner of the gold medal, Adelina Sotnikova, is Russian. Surprise, surprise. There has been heavy accusations of Russia exploiting its position as the host country, especially in Korea. Entering the Olympics, Sotnikova was not a contender for the podium, but she has walked away with the gold medal. This had led to accusations, including my own, of whether Russia being the host nation has heavily influenced the results. LA Times’ Sport columnist Bill Plaschke explicitly directly outrage over the decision at Russia, in a tweet where he accused Russia of needing “a champion after last night’s hockey debacle…at [the] expense of Korea.”

Fishy judges

Nationality of judges in the Free skate

The nationalities of the judges brings more suspicion upon the scoring. Note the presence of several Russian judges, in addition to judges from countries friendly with Russia, in the panel; thus fueling to the controversy. Among the judges, Yury Balkov of Ukraine has previously been suspended for trying to fix the Free Dance event during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Another judge, Russia’s Alla Shekhovtseva, is the wife of the executive director and previous president of the Russian figure skating federation. The mere presence of a Russian judge should raise eyebrows, but the sheer numbers of judges linked with Russia, and with involvement in previous match-fixing history, raises serious concerns regarding the judges’ decision, especially now with the controversies regarding the results.

Many express doubts and outrage over scoring

Kim Yuna’s incredulously low scores has made many, including prominent individuals, fans and viewers all over the world, to question the judges and the scoring.

“I am stunned by this result, I don’t understand the scoring.” Katarina Witt, two-time Olympic gold medalist of Germany, commented on German television. 

“Adelina Sotnikova was excellent tonight, but Yuna Kim was robbed.” NBC Olympic Researcher Alex Goldberger tweeted.

“Oh…” CBC’s figure skating analyst Carol Lane could only manage a shocked remark immediately after Kim Yuna’s free skate scores were announced.

“…among the most questionable and debated in figure skating’s checkered judging history.” The Chicago Tribune reported regarding the results of the Women’s Figure Skating.

ESPN.com has initially titled the article regarding the results as “homecooking,”  which changed to “home-ice advantage,” then finally settled on “A Nation’s Heroine.” They all seem to be taking jabs, although increasingly subtly, at Russian Sotnikova’s gold medal win.

Korean Response

Korea is no stranger to questionable decisions in sporting events. The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics controversy regarding Anton Ohno and Dong Sung Kim is still unforgotten. Incidents in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, such as A-Lam Shin’s fencing time-keeping mishap and her consequent tears, are still fresh in the memories of the people of Korea. Now, Sochi has yielded another controversial result in a sporting event. Once again Korea has fallen victim to another controversial incident in an international sporting event. Will these incidents just keep repeating, and what are the sporting federations in Korea doing to stop these from happening? These incidents only seem to prove that Korea’s sport political abilities are sub-par, if not atrocious.

In the aftermath of Kim Yuna settling for silver, Korea has exploded with the country enraged by the results. Korean media is still continuously furiously reporting on the events today. Korean websites have been overflowing with articles regarding Kim.    Many had been worried after the short program, as people felt that the scoring was inconsistent and biased against her. The worried outcome became reality however, as Russia’s Sotnikova snatched the gold medal. Internet users in Korea has expressed disbelief, outrage and has also directed anger towards Russia.  However, the Koreans did not forget to thank Kim.  Kim Yuna will be retiring, and the Korean people thanked her for everything she has done for the nation by placing “연아야 고마워,” meaning “Thank you, Yuna,” as the most searched query in the portal website Naver. With Korea hosting the next Winter Olympics (2018) in Pyeongchang, it would be interesting to see how this controversy turns out. There is a petition currently in progress, with over 467,146 signatures as of now, and increasing in a rapid rate. I highly doubt its influence regarding the results, but well: it’s worth a shot. 

Finally, as personal fan and supporter of Kim Yuna, I would also like to participate in the “연아야 고마워 movement.”

To whom I believe is the true gold medalist:

Congratulations on your medal. Thank you for all  your flawless and elegant performances, glorious achievements and well, everything really. You have been a gift to Korea. 감사합니다.

Have you seen the event today? If so, what do you think about this result? I believe it to be scandalous, and should receive a detailed investigation regarding the events by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Skating Union (ISU).

17 replies »

  1. Yuna skated so beautifully. Perfectly, as always. Sotnikova, at 17 yrs. old, was beautiful as well, but did not have the artistic grace of Yuna. And Yuna hit every technique – perfectly. The close margin should have went to the reigning queen – Yuna Kim!!

  2. I agree that Kim was robbed. Kostner was also. This was clearly a “home job.” Sotikova had more jumps, but she made mistakes on a couple of them and shouldn’t have gotten full credit. Her artistic marks were also much higher than they should have been on both programs. I think Kim should have gotten the gold and Kostner the silver.

  3. Signed, sealed, and delivered by two corrupt judges for Sotikova. Kim was cheated out of her gold medal. Her program had one jump less but ten times the elegance. She won but didn’t get the medal.

    • It is the injustice of the whole affair that causes people, especially Koreans, to respond with anger. Otherwise, thank you for your words.

  4. t’s weird that everyone criticizes without any knowledge on the
    topic. Adelina was technically better. NewYork Times wrote pretty
    balanced article and gave expert analysis of both performances: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20...

    Everyone keeps on talking that Sotnikova was over-scored by Russian
    judges in short program but the fact is that there was no Russian judge
    there that day but there was a Korean one. Here is the list of judges – http://www.sochi2014.com/en/figure-skating-ladies-short-program

    • What do you mean “everyone criticizes without any knowledge on the topic?” Figure skating analysts, commentators and even previous figure skating legends (such as Katarina Witt) have expressed doubts about the scoring and decision. I don’t remember a controversy about the decision in Vancouver 2010? I gave my reasoning in the whole post. And the NYT link you provided doesn’t exist.

      It is true that Sotnikova had a harder program than Kim, but by that logic, Asada Mao had the hardest program. Sotnikova and Lipnitskaya were definitely over-scored.

      Sotnikova was over-scored and there was something fishy going on behind the scenes. One of the judges even hugged and congratulated Sotnikova. That judge is Russian, and the wife of the previous president of Russian Figure Skating federation. If that isn’t conflict of interest, what is?

      • Katarina Witt took back her comment after she had a closer look at the complexity of Adelina’s program. Many U.S. experts including the Olympic champion Tara Lipinski said Adelina’s gold was well deserved.

  5. It took Yuna 6 years of competition to develop her PCS score from 60.8 to 73.6. Miraculously, Adelina just did it in less then two months, going from 60.4 in her last competition to 74.4 in the RUSSIAN Olympics:

  6. Guys, you’re so biased towards Yuna! You have a perfect possibility to prove it yourself using the scores in this article and videos of both Yuna’s and Adelina’s performances (these are for sure available on the websites of your TV stations that were showing Olympics). Watch it yourself!! Jumps of Yuna and Adelina, try to rate them all yourself and look how many points you get in the end. I bet you will then understand why Adelina won. Even if that Russian judge would give Adelina all 1’s instead of all 3’s Adelina would still have won. She merely set up a more complicated program, and then made the best out of it.

  7. Adelina Sotnikova’s highest score was 170 only 2 months ago. And she earned 224 on the Olympics which is 4 points from the World record of Yuna Kim.
    Even though she made a visible mistake, she earned more points than Yuna Kim.

    Judges are saying that Adelina Sotnikova’s Gold medal was right because she had 7 jumps which are one more than Yuna’s.
    But then, according to what they said, they should have been given higher score to Asada Mao from Japan, who had 8 jumps and did successful jumps without any mistake.

    And there are pictures of Adelina Sotnikova having hugs with one of the judge after the game. How can this be explained? No players should have any contact with judges.

    Everyone knows that Yuna Kim had to be the Gold Medalist.

  8. Actually Sotnikova hugged 2 judges right after Kim Yuna’s score was announced. This is clearly a corrupt Olympics game and a corrupt country it was held at. People say there were only 1 or 2 russian judges on the panel, but what about the others who used are in countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union? Kim Yuna had no mistakes in both of her programs in the 2014 Olympics but she received a 0 for one of her jumps from a judge in the short program. Then looking at Adelina’s performance, she received way too many points considering her errors of having under-rotations, pre-rotations, wrong edges, too foot landings, and wrong postures that looked unnatural and jumps lacking beauty (meaning her choreography was bad compared to Kim Yuna’s).If people were to say that Sotnikova’s program is a lot harder than Kim Yuna’s then that is an absurd and full of stupidity thing to say. If people say that Sotnikova won because she had more jumps, then what a bout Asada Mao? What about Kostner who had the same amount of jumps and actually DID BETTER than Sotnikova but receiving a score that is a lot lower than her? Biased judges means a corrupt game.

    • *who are in countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union?
      *two foot landings
      *. If
      Sorry for the many mistakes I’ve been typing in the dark.

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