While the International Olympic Committee insists there is no scandal surrounding the result of Thursday’s Ladies’ figure skating singles competition, plenty of questions have arisen in the wake of Russian 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova’s victory in Sochi.
A panel of four judges awarded Sotnikova the gold medal ahead of defending champion Yuna Kim of South Korea and Italy’s Carolina Kostner, but cries from the crowd and Internet frenzy have once again put international figure skating under scrutiny.
Perhaps given credit for a more risk-taking performance, Sotnikova finished more than five points ahead of Kim and became the first Russian woman to claim the gold medal in figure skating. Currently ahead of every country, Russia now has 29 total medals, including 11 gold medals, three of which came in the Iceberg Palace.
However the IOC believes no controversy currently exists.
"I think you're getting a little ahead of yourself," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "I think first off we have to see if there's an official complaint, because the people concerned I'd assume would make a complaint and it would go to the federation. I'm not aware there's been such a complaint and if there was they'd got through the federation. I don't think it's even happened yet. If it does that will be the first step to go through if there isn't a credible complaint we wouldn't take it any further.”
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As reported by USA Today, two of the four judges that made up the deciding women’s long program panel could be under scrutiny. Yuri Balkov of the Ukraine was suspended from judging for a year after he was tape-recorded conspiring with a Canadian judge over the ice dancing competition in Nagano, and judge Alla Shekhovtseva is married to Russian federation general director Valentin Pissev.
The two other countries were Estonia and France, with the latter famously working with Russia in the Salt Lake City games to fix the pairs and ice dancing competitions.
While the IOC has brushed aside any speculation regarding judge tampering or conspiracy, American Ashley Wagner questioned the final scores. Wagner finished seventh overall, despite two clean skates with no falls compared to several skaters who finished ahead of her.
"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,” Wagner said. "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.”
After receiving her silver medal despite a clean slate, Kim deflected questions about the judges during the post-competition press conference.
Kim would have joined legends Katarina Witt and Sonja Henie as the only skaters to win consecutive gold medals in the Ladies’ singles competition and the former East Germany champion didn’t pull any punches in her comments.
"I am stunned by this result, I don't understand the scoring," Witt said on German TV.
For now, it appears the result will stand, as Adams pointed out that no formal complaint has been filed by Kim or South Korea.