FanDuel - WFBC

February 16, 2010

Japanese-Born Skater Can't Continue Russian Dynasty: Pairs skater Yuko Kavaguti, who has lived and trained in Russia since 2003, relinquished her Japanese citizenship a year ago so that she could compete in the Olympics for Russia. She also changed the spelling of her last name from Kawaguchi to a more Russianized variant. All of the effort was for naught Monday, as Kavaguti and partner Aleksander Smirnov finished fourth -- the first time since 1960 that a team from Russia or the Soviet Union did not win the event.

posted by rcade to olympics at 10:53 AM - 14 comments

I watched a good portion of the pairs last night, and they mentioned the consecutive win streak for the Russians... It really is amazing that they were able to be so dominate for so long. As for Yuko.... she and her partner did not deserve to win, lets just leave it at that.

posted by myshtigo at 02:13 PM on February 16

It helped the streak when the Russians were able to cheat to steal it from Canadians.

posted by bperk at 02:24 PM on February 16

The pairs skating was awful. Standards must have really slipped. I watched a few flights and only remember one pair not falling at least once.

And the current points scoring system is baffling. We need a return to the old 6 point system. The new system obfuscates and means corruption is more easily hidden.

Such a sad state of affairs. And I grow weary of people changing nationalities to compete. Bugs me.

posted by Drood at 02:43 PM on February 16

It helped the streak when the Russians were able to cheat to steal it from Canadians

I thought that was a draw.

posted by owlhouse at 02:58 PM on February 16

Such a sad state of affairs. And I grow weary of people changing nationalities to compete. Bugs me.

Bugs me too. In her case it is apparent that loyalty to her country boils down to whether Japan has a suitable partner to skate with.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:41 PM on February 16

I thought that was a draw.

Not really. The Canadians skated a clean free program. The Russians did not. After the judges ranked the Russian's performance ahead of the Canadian's and awarded them the gold, the French judge revealed some of the corruption involved in the judging. To defuse the controversy the IOC awarded another set of gold medals.

P.S. It was Kawaguchi.

posted by Steve-o at 04:21 PM on February 16

Thanks. I've fixed it. Kavaguti's rejection of her country and her name is a sad testament to the win-at-all-costs attitude. What's she do now? Is she stuck in Russia forever away from her family?

posted by rcade at 05:02 PM on February 16

Well it seem free agency has hit the Olympics just like pro sports. Now if you don't like your team or country's chances, you just switch. As DEVO once quipped "It's a beautiful world".

posted by Atheist at 05:54 PM on February 16

Kavaguti's rejection of her country and her name is a sad testament to the win-at-all-costs attitude.

That second link takes you to a story where it notes that her previous Russian partner couldn't get Japanese citizenship. I think it might be a case of her country rejecting him, and therefore indirectly, her as well.

Where I live, 45 per cent of the population was either born overseas or have one parent who was. Our best intellects and sportspeople head overseas, and we also welcome them here. Isn't that better than putting up borders?

In any case, and call me an idealist for this too, Olympic athletes should compete as individuals, not country representatives. In things like the skating pairs, it should be possible to have something like they do in doubles tennis at Grand Slams, where you can partner up with who the hell you like.

I'm sick of nationalism anyway, it's so 19th century and imperialist. Fuck the IOC and fuck all national Olympic committees.

posted by owlhouse at 06:50 PM on February 16

I'm a Brit and my wife is Canadian. I live in Canada. As far as I'm aware my kids could compete under either passport.

Its one thing if it's by birth.

And even if what you say is true Owlhouse, it's bullshit, as if they HAD we've then have a fucking Russian skating for Japan which is equally stupid.

And to be honest, I think the Olympics are a great platform for nationalism. By your logic the World Cup should be about the individual, which is bollocks.

posted by Drood at 12:14 AM on February 17

By your logic the World Cup should be about the individual

I admit that team sports are different, Drood. Most Olympic sports ARE about the individual, or the pair of individuals in this case.

Japan has no problems allowing Brazilians to hold citzenship to strengthen their football team, but apparently not a Russian skater. If you're not going to apply the rules consistently (immigration, citizenship, sport), then we should just turf the whole idea of representing nationalities for individual sports, is all I'm saying.

My idealism is impractical, I know.

posted by owlhouse at 01:11 AM on February 17

Kavaguti's rejection of her country and her name is a sad testament to the win-at-all-costs attitude.

Hm. Tanith Belbin took US citizenship before the 2006 games, in a process accelerated by a special bill in Congress that wasn't explicitly designed to get her sworn in, but which only affected a few dozen people that happened to include her. (In all honesty, she'd been stiffed by changes in INS/BCIS rules governing the the "star athlete" visa.)

Still, Belbin went south because she couldn't find a Canadian partner to work with; the governing body for figure skating is fine with mixed-citizenship couples for world and even national championships, but the IOC doesn't allow them to compete together in the Olympics. The only differences between Belbin and Kavaguti are those dictated by the citizenship laws of the respective nations. Situations like that are a lot less egregious than Georgia handing out passports to Brazilian beach volleyballers, or Qatar to Kenyan long-distance runners.

The new system obfuscates and means corruption is more easily hidden.

It feels as if there's a degree of point-shaving that goes on to make the final scores "look right", and there's also the "points for reputation, not for routine" thing -- let's call it the "non-BCS-conference" principle -- where your rating before the event begins influences the credit you receive for a good performance.

It's a wholly-judged event with an opaque scoring system. I'm not going to say "it's not a sport", because that just sets off definition-based thread wars, but it would be nice if there was some way to give those watching a real-time sense of where the final numbers are coming from. (Olympic boxing managed to do that, replacing per-round scoring with the point-per-scoring-punch counter.)

My gut feeling, though, is that if skating judges were forced to show their work, it wouldn't look very pretty. It would certainly change the nature of the competition.

posted by etagloh at 06:11 AM on February 17

My gut feeling, though, is that if skating judges were forced to show their work, it wouldn't look very pretty. It would certainly change the nature of the competition.

Yeah, but maybe the judges and audience would agree more often. I stopped watching the sport because the wrong person/couple won far too often.

posted by bperk at 08:33 AM on February 17

Its one thing if it's by birth.

And even if what you say is true Owlhouse, it's bullshit, as if they HAD we've then have a fucking Russian skating for Japan which is equally stupid.

Why is that stupid? Are people not allowed to move around the world? Are we tied to the conditions we are born with? Would I never be able to compete for the Canadian Internet team since I am a Canadian immigrant? Why is it ok to move to a country for the betterment of one's standard of living or for a new job, but all of a sudden unacceptable to do so for sport, especially when particular countries, and their programs, obviously allow the individual to follow their dreams?

posted by mkn at 03:18 PM on February 17

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