Feb 21, 2014

Fallout continues after Russian Adelina Sotnikova wins skating gold over Korean Yuna Kim

Fallout continues after Russian Adelina Sotnikova wins skating gold over Korean Yuna Kim
Fallout continues after Russian Adelina Sotnikova wins skating gold over Korean Yuna Kim. A Russian figure skater has beaten a Korean skater to the gold medal in the women’s free skate despite clearly being the second best competitor on the ice.

And Korea, which hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics, is absolutely furious.

Word among figure skating experts is that you’re skating on very thin ice indeed to believe that Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova’s upset victory over reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea was richly deserved.

There is even the suggestion the fix could be in, with many seasoned skating commentators and former competitors absolutely astounded at the result.

Katarina Witt, the former East German glamour queen of the ice, tweeted “Shame Gold Medal, Yuna Kim is a real queen”.

Alex Goldberger, Olympics researcher at US broadcaster NBC said “Adelina Sotnikova was excellent tonight, but Yuna Kim was robbed”.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Russian judge Alla Shekhovtseva, is married to the general director of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia.

There were three other Eastern European judges on the panel but no Korean. And if fans in Sochi have taught the world anything at these Games, it’s that Eastern European nations cheer for each other if one of their own is not winning.

Yuna Kim won gold in Vancouver and is a revered figure in Korea. Largely due to her popularity, outrage over the perceived judging swindle has gone viral in cyberspace. Online activist site change.org has had the most clicked ever petition in its history – by a factor of five.

“Our website is going crazy,” said Tony Robertson of change.org in Australia.

See the petition here

“More than 900,000 people have signed a petition in just over six hours demanding an investigation into the winner of the women’s figure skating competition.

“This is the most traffic we’ve ever seen on Change.org, coming in at five times our previous record.

“The majority of signatures (about 90 per cent) are coming from people inside South Korea, with the other 10 per cent or so coming from inside the US.

“Right now, we’re seeing nearly 100,000 new signatures every 15 minutes.”

By 7am today, the petition had grown to 1.75 million signatures.

Mr Robertson says change.org currently has a team of engineers working double overtime to keep the site up and running with the unexpected traffic deluge.

But that’s nothing compared to the amount of work the International Skating Union will have to to repair the tarnished image of its sport.

Figure skating, the most gentile of sports, has been embroiled in some of the ugliest scandals in Olympism down the years.

At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, two teams received gold medals as a compromise after allegations of fixing in the pairs competition. The scandal led to a judging overhaul.

There was another overhaul in the scoring system after yet more controversy at Vancouver 2010, but most skating fans remain extremely frosty in their belief in the judges’ impartiality.