FanDuel - WFBC

February 12, 2002

The Russian Pairs Skating Dynasty lives on in 2002.: The decision proved to be a controversial one, as a flawless performance by Sale and Pelletier seemed to lock a gold medal win for Canada when compared to a couple bobbles by Russians Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze. But they ended up with the silver after a tiebreaker by the Chinese judge.

posted by evixir to other at 12:19 AM - 34 comments

This was a shocker. While the Russians' performance was artistically stunning, there were a couple noticeable mistakes, but I couldn't find any with Sale and Pelletier's performance. I was under the impression that a higher technical rating held more weight than the presentation rating, but that wasn't the case in this situation, though technically speaking the Russians' program was of a higher difficulty than the Canadiens'. Nice to see Ina and Zimmerman pull out such a nice performance, but I couldn't get over the Sale/Pelletier loss. It still seems like the judges will grant better marks to a classical program than a more modern one when it comes to pairs skating, and ordinarily I'd agree with them, but Sale/Pelletier's Love Story was just amazing. Here's another possible onion in the ointment -- the French judge placed the Canadiens second in the ordinals. Pelletier is from Quebec. Irony? I'm ignorant on Canadien/Quebecois politics but that one caught my eye.

posted by evixir at 12:27 AM on February 12

Erf. Nutty me for going to a sports site before MeFi, but here is a bit more commentary on the subject from our Filterian cohorts.

posted by evixir at 12:33 AM on February 12

the French judge placed the Canadiens second in the ordinals. Pelletier is from Quebec. Irony? Are you saying that the French judge wasn't biased enough?

posted by mkn at 12:42 AM on February 12

I don't think the French feel any particular attachment to Quebec, and the Quebeckers certainly feel very little attachment to France (besides the whole language thing). I do certainly believe that Sale and Pelletier deserved the gold (Canadian as I am), but this is hardly the first time Canadian skaters got shafted at the Winter Games, so it's not terribly surprising.

posted by fhangler at 01:09 AM on February 12

I'm sick of this North American whinging. In particular, singling out the Chinese judge in a sort of "nudge nuge wink wink those Commies are all the same" way. The Canadians lost. Deal with it. I think I'll take the opinion of the judges over the biassed commentators and viewers.

posted by salmacis at 03:06 AM on February 12

salmacis, I don't see anyone singling out the Chinese judge. Where did you see that? It is, however, a documented fact that Russians have a history of cheating at international competitions, not just figure skating.

posted by gyc at 04:18 AM on February 12

Figure skating is so subjective I have trouble maintaining any outrage at all about this. The certainty of the announcers that the Canadians won is as subjective as the narrow win the judges gave the Russians. Who the hell knows? The only qualitative difference I could find in their performances is that the Russian guy botched a spin. At least it was good television.

posted by rcade at 07:39 AM on February 12

"But they ended up with the silver after a tiebreaker by the Chinese judge. " And good honest Americans, or for that matter, Brits, have never cheated? And what the hell is the relevence of that? Nobody is suggesting that there has been any improprietry, are they?

posted by salmacis at 07:40 AM on February 12

There have been suggestions of that in the past with judges favoring that pair, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear more now.

posted by rcade at 07:55 AM on February 12

Judging Falls Between Fix and an Injustice

posted by owillis at 08:24 AM on February 12

I don't get it. People are muttering darkly about Communist collusion, fixes, cheating, whatever. Step back and look at it from the other side of the coin. All the whinging and complaining is coming from North Americans, who aren't at all biassed, are they? If the Canadian pair had won, would there have been an outcry from the Russians about the North American collusion? Frankly, I don't know who deserved to win, and I don't really care. All this whinging sticks in my craw. (By the way, prepare for an almighty whinging session from us English when Argentina beat us in the World Cup..)

posted by salmacis at 10:36 AM on February 12

I'm not claiming any of the judges cheated. I'm claiming that they botched the job last night. The NBC commentators are no slouches. An Olympic gold medalist. A choreographer of Olympic medalwinning performances. If you listen to their remarks before the judges scores were revealed, there was no doubt in their mind who won. There are serious flaws in a system that ranks teams rather than scores them, and figure skating's system is worse than that. It's supposed to rank teams, but they add in mandatory deductions as though the performances are scored. Which is it, scored or ranked? It's a seriously flawed system. It needs to be changed, but the sport is so set in its ways that it won't happen.

posted by neuroshred at 10:41 AM on February 12

Salmicis, that sounds like Commie talk to me. You're on the list now.

posted by Samsonov14 at 10:56 AM on February 12

Frankly, I don't know who deserved to win, and I don't really care. All this whinging sticks in my craw.I havn't seen any whinging here, only opinions. This supposed north american bias is silly: the russian winners live and train in Hackensack, N.J, so in reality, the US won more Gold. This sort of thing reminds me of many fights I've seen that have went to a decision: The expert eye of the professional judge is often different than that of fans.

posted by Mack Twain at 11:56 AM on February 12

Whatever the outcome, the reaction to it has caused the Skating Federation to probe judging.

posted by mkn at 02:50 PM on February 12

Skating is a sport? (sorry, sorry, sorry. i couldn't resist)

posted by emptyage at 08:27 PM on February 12

I was quoting what the article said when I singled out the Chinese judge, not pointing to a bling bling blah Commie conspiracy. Can someone enlighten me as to the Ice Dancing controversy of Nagano that they kept talking about during the men's short program tonight?

posted by evixir at 11:59 PM on February 12

The story seems to be getting bigger. Christine Brennan, described by ESPN as the most expert journalist covering figure skating, calls the judges decision the worst in the 14 years she has covered the sport and says she has sources who confirm a shady deal between the Russian and French judges.

posted by rcade at 12:23 AM on February 13

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail is also reporting that the standings were predetermined, but keep in mind it's a Canadian newspaper. What is also interesting is that the Brennan column on the USAToday website was revised to not mention possible dealings by the French and the Russian while the ESPN site also citing Brennan remains unmodified...

posted by gyc at 03:37 AM on February 13

The cold war goes on

posted by dgeiser13 at 09:46 AM on February 13

The head of the International Skating Union is giving a press conference right now on MSNBC. He is VERY defensive. His answers are very evasive. He's hardly even admitting that there have ever been judging issues in the sport. He's the wrong spokesperson for their sport. He makes it sound like they are hiding something.

posted by neuroshred at 01:09 PM on February 13

Sore losers? Sale and Pelletier have been astonishingly dignified and taking this all in stride. All the pressure was mostly from the fans and press.

posted by mkn at 10:11 PM on February 13

Now the head of the French Olympic team is claiming that the French figure skating judge was pressured to "act in a certain way" to give the gold to the Russians.

posted by gyc at 11:33 PM on February 13

this is getting good.

posted by lescour at 12:06 AM on February 14

I say we settle this once and for all... Tag-team Cage Match (On Ice)!

posted by 86 at 07:16 AM on February 14

The French judge has admitted her vote was fixed, according to NBC. I think we're about to see something as unprecedented as the Black Sox scandal and the IOC will award a gold medal to Sale/Pelletier.

posted by rcade at 09:02 AM on February 14

Your "sore losers" tirade is losing steam, pastepotpete. Might be time to pick a new phrase to express your frustration. Would you have preferred stony-cold faces with absolutely no emotion whatsoever? Standing up on a second-tier podium when you skated a performance that was first-tier quality -- and everyone in the audience agreed with you -- takes some guts. It's disappointing as hell. When's the last time you tried your damndest to do something that had taken you two years to perfect and you were told it was decent, but not the best? How would you react? Would you try to be as composed as possible? Would a few tears not squeak out? They're not robots, for god's sake. And unless you saw a different version of the medal ceremony than I did, I saw both members of the team congratulate the Russian team right before they climbed onto the highest tier. I have never heard them blame the Russian team for the controversy nor hold them accountable in any way. All that aside, I've no idea how the rest of the skaters can even hope for an impartially-judged event at this point. We'll see how things pan out tonight in the men's free skate.

posted by evixir at 05:15 PM on February 14

Oh, boo hoo. Do you feel the same pity for the Chinese? How about the 8th place team? What a depressing thing the Olympics must seem to you, all these poor disappointed losers. Two posts is not a tirade, btw (well maybe it is at Sportsfilter, but we're just warming up) and when I see a post that begins "sore losers?" I just can't help but respond in the affirmative. Try reading the whole thread next time. Yeah, you're right they shook hands. Meanwhile, they're showing up in front of every camera they can find talking about how it felt like a "punch in the stomach" Meanwhile, they want a gold medal and the Canadian Olympic Association and their lawyers are busy trying to make that happen. Follow my links, read what these prima donnas are saying, read about their appeal based on second-hand evidence, then give me one good reason why I shouldn't think they are sore losers. Evixir, you can let Sale and Pelletier, the COA, SkateCanada, and Scott Hamilton spin you from here until Tuesday if you like, but I'm not going to fall all over myself just because she squirted out a few tears on the podium.

posted by pastepotpete at 07:12 PM on February 14

Oh, boo hoo. Do you feel the same pity for the Chinese? How about the 8th place team? What a depressing thing the Olympics must seem to you, all these poor disappointed losers. The Chinese and the 8th place team did not skate gold-medal quality programs. Meanwhile, they're showing up in front of every camera they can find talking about how it felt like a "punch in the stomach" Meanwhile, they want a gold medal and the Canadian Olympic Association and their lawyers are busy trying to make that happen. First, S&P are the hottest story right now. It's only natural every program wants them on. Second, they are thinking about their future after the Olympics, and publicity does nothing but help with their future career. Third, on Larry King, they specifically stated that a medal is just something "you put in a box" but their experiences is what's truly important. It seems your rage it a bit misplaced and unwarranted.

posted by gyc at 07:34 PM on February 14

the chinese and the 8th place team did not skate gold-medal quality programs. You are absolutely correct. The Russian pair was the only team to skate a gold-medal quality program. That's why they were awarded a gold medal. No one has grounds to say otherwise. first, s&p are the hottest story right now. it's natural every program wants them second, they are thinking about their future after the olympics, and publicity does nothing but help with their future career. third, larry king, they specifically stated that a medal is just something you put in a box but their experiences is what's truly important. it seems your rage it a bit misplaced and unwarranted. Your first two points are absolute conjecture. Your third only undercuts any grounds for the Canadian appeal. My "rage" stems from the inability of, seemingly, the rest of North America to accept the decision of the judges as controversial but final and quit trying to conjure up some justification for giving the Canadians a gold medal. I'm sorry my tone seems to bother you.

posted by pastepotpete at 10:08 PM on February 14

You are absolutely correct. The Russian pair was the only team to skate a gold-medal quality program. That's why they were awarded a gold medal. No one has grounds to say otherwise. As more and more people step forward, it seems likely that the Canadians were the ones to skate a gold-medal quality program. Let's see if there is any truth to those allegations of pressure and vote-swapping.

posted by gyc at 11:22 PM on February 14

I don't think they should give them a gold medal just to appease them, but I also don't think their reaction to the whole situation was unreasonable or "sore loser" quality. They practiced a routine for two years and it all comes down to one moment, and a judging debacle messes up their chances to stand atop the podium. That sucks. If it's being a "sore loser" to say so, well, damn. I say bring all the publicity you can to the spectacle of corruption that judging has become, and hopefully some changes might finally be made. They seem to accept that the decision made by the judges, albeit potentially corrupted, is final, and it's not them leading the light brigade against the whole ISU, it's their lawyers and coaches and the Canadian Olympic Association and all the others who stand to make money off of them would they have won the gold instead of the silver. So yes, it's getting a bit messy now, but let's put the blame for the appeals and recounts and yadda on the muckety-mucks and higher-ups who have more power and sway than the individual skaters do. Sale and Pelletier aren't the ones standing in front of Cinquanta interrogating him on his judges' ethics; they're just the poster children for the larger groups that are fighting to correct a problem that's gone on way too long. I just think labeling them as sore losers is a little too harsh when you consider what it took to get them -- and all Olympians, for that matter -- to the Olympics in the first place. For every winner, there's a loser. Just because their disappointment is more public doesn't mean it's unsportsmanlike of them to feel it.

posted by evixir at 11:49 PM on February 14

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