Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageSotnikova deserved gold, angry Russians insist

By Emmeline Moore (AFP)     Feb 21, 2014 in World

Adelina Sotnikova's coaches hit back Friday at suggestions the dramatic victory of Russia's first ever women's Olympic figure skating champion was the result of a voting fix in favour of the Winter Games' hosts.

The 17-year-old surged to her first major title ahead of South Korean defending champion Kim Yu-Na and Italy's Carolina Kostner on a night of drama and controversy at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

As she was being hailed by Russian media as a "super-sensation" who had saved national pride after the disastrous performance of its ice hockey team, questions were raised as to whether she merited the victory.

The 5.48 point gap between Sotnikova and Kim, bidding to become just the third woman to win back-to-back titles after Norway's Sonja Henie and Germany's Katarina Witt, raised eyebrows.

But Sotnikova's choreographer Pyotr Chernyshov said she was a worthy champion.

Russia's Adelina Sotnikova performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceb...
Russia's Adelina Sotnikova performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace on February 20, 2014
Yuri Kadobnov, AFP

"We were following the rules that the modern game was offering and we won this game," the former Russian-American ice dancer told a packed press conference on Friday.

"You have to be an expert in figure skating to know the rules now. When you ask a professional figure skater there is no doubt who won on the night."

He added: "It's not like track and field when you run faster. It's very subjective.

"Not everyone has the same taste, somebody likes red, somebody likes blue... who's right? Somebody likes more athletics, some more balletic, some like Swan Lake ... who's right, who's wrong?"

One of the nine judges at Thursday's final was Ukrainian Yuri Balkov, who was suspended for a year for his involvement in a fixing scandal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics ice dancing competition.

Another judge, Alla Shekhovtseva, is married to Russian federation general director Valentin Piseyev.

- 'There have never been any allegations' -

But Shekhovtseva's integrity was vigorously defended by Eteri Tutberidze, the Russian women's coach who handles Julia Lipnitskaia, who was fifth in the final.

South Korea's Kim Yu-Na performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceberg...
South Korea's Kim Yu-Na performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace on February 20, 2014
Adrian Dennis, AFP

"She has been an international judge for many years and there have never been any allegations," said Tutberidze.

"For me Adelina was the champion. I have never seen her before as concentrated and focused. There were jumps, spins, spirals and all those elements. Taken together Adelina is the winner."

Neither Sotnikova nor Lipnitskaia commented on the controversy at Friday's press conference.

Despite two-footing the landing on a jump, Sotnikova's performance was technically more difficult than both Kim's or Kostner's, with her jumps carrying her to the top spot on the podium.

Both Sotnikova and Kostner did seven triple jumps, Kim did six. And while Kim did a triple lutz-triple toeloop combo and Kostner did double axel-triple toeloop, Sotnikova did both.

But how her presentation merited more than the beauty, fluidity and elegance of expression of both Kim, 23, and Kostner, 27, had many experts baffled.

Italy's Carolina Kostner performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceber...
Italy's Carolina Kostner performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace on February 20, 2014
Yuri Kadobnov, AFP

"Any questions are for the judges, not for me. I did my job. I gave a gift to Russia," said the skater after the final.

She said competing at home was an advantage as she was boosted by the deafening cries of support from the fans.

- 'Get rid of anonymous judging' -

But questions are being asked as to whether spectators have influenced the judges after generous component marks for Yevgeny Plushenko and Julia Lipnitskaia in the earlier team competition, which Russia won.

A new figure skating judging system was brought in after a scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games when French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne was accused of inflating the scores in the figure skating pairs finals under pressue from her own federation.

The difference now is that the judges' scores are anonymous and not by country.

American skater Ashley Wagner, who finished seventh, said that the judges should be accountable for their marks.

"They need to get rid of the anonymous judging. People need to be held accountable," she said.

Skating in her final competition world champion Kim said: "The scores are given by the judges so I'm not in the right position to comment and there is nothing that will change with my words."

But back in South Korea, there was heartbreak and anger over the result.

Within hours, the website of the popular online campaigning forum, Change.org, crashed after more than 700,000 people logged on to sign a petition calling for a review of the judges' scores.

Russia's triple Olympic figure skating champion and pro-Kremlin Russian MP Irina Rodnina brushed aside talk of a fix.

"I don’t understand the controversy," she told Sovietsky Sport.

"This is just looking for scandals. The thing is that many judges work at competitions. They represent different countries and different federations. I am sure there is no Russian plot."

More about oly, 2014, fskate, Women, judging
More news from
Latest News
Top News