After 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikova beat out Yuna Kim to win gold in ladies figure skating, the world felt like the judging was rigged. Kim, who was favoured going into the competition, skated cleanly and beautifully, but Sotnikova beat her by about 5 points.
An easy explanation for Sotnikova’s win is her routine was four points more difficult than Kim’s and she also skated cleanly and beautifully.
But corrupt judging runs deep in figure skating and American Ashley Wagner spoke out about it on Thursday saying she felt “gypped” and that something needed to change.
And this isn’t at all Wagner being a sore loser. Wagner skated two very clean programs, landing all of her jumps, and never falling. Despite this, Wagner came in 7th behind Gracie Gold, Yulia Lipnitskaya, and Mao Asada, who all fell in at least one of their skates. Wagner told reporters (via the L.A. Times):
“People don’t want to watch a sport where you see people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean. It is confusing and we need to make it clear for you. 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.”
Wagner went on to say that there are serious problems with the way the sport is run and that changes need to be made, starting with getting rid of the anonymous judging.
The outspoken 22-year-old may have a point. There were two judges, one who was accused of trying to rig the 1998 Olympics, and one whose wife is the director of the Russian figure skating federation, who arguably should never have been considered for the panel. It is also never explained how judges decide their scores.
Adelina Sotnikova probably deserved gold, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t major issues in figure skating judging.
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