First of all, I would like to express that as a Korean, I am not and cannot be free of bias.
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:
Free skate detailed scoring sheet:
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.”
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.
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).
Categories: KOREA-CANADA BLOG 2018