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Breaking News: Canadians Awarded Gold


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#16 Lillian

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 05:46 PM

Why do I get the impression this would have played out differently -- and these comments might not be as cutting -- if this had happened to a couple of American skaters? frown.gif
I think Sale and Pelletier handled this VERY graciously. If they were just whining about nothing, they wouldn't have handed them a gold medal today. And by the way, I agree with a bunch of American journalists on CNN today who think the Russians should get the silver. Can there really be two gold medals? This must be a first.
Shame on the French judge, the back-room Russians and all those corrupt Olympic officials who take bribes right left and center. It's increasingly apparent, from the host city bribe scandal to this, that the whole Olympic enterprise is rotting at the core. frown.gif

#17 vagansmom

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 05:48 PM

Back to Alexandra's comments in her earlier post on this thread where she said that she thinks this decision will only make things worse in judging in the future. Although I usually agree with you, Alexandra, in this case I take issue with your comments.

I believe that all this hoopla will benefit skating in the end. This has been building for decades. I think no one was willing to deal with the vagaries of ice skating judges back in the days of the Iron Curtain because it was politically too dangerous. There were serious East/West politics involved, far beyond the scope of any sports medals. It was accepted that there was, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, impropriety in the judging.

But very clearly, since the breakup of the Eastern bloc, there's been pressure mounting publicly for changes to take place. And that's because it's safe politically to apply such pressure. This latest decision to award the Canadians a joint gold medal along with the Russians is really a decision whose origins began in about 1990 and reached the pressure cooker level at the Nagano Olympics. I don't find it a bad thing that the media is pushing it front and center regardless of their motives. (It certainly makes an exciting story).

That the decision was made about this particular pairs event is immaterial. The Russians and Canadians are just pawns in this matter. And that's OK although I do feel sorry for both pairs to be stuck at the center of the controversy. But changes have been overdue for a long time. The judging community has been issued a humiliating wake-up call. I think we can expect fairer judging and less back-room dealings in the future. Having devotedly watched figure skating competitions since way back in the days when Carol Heiss won her Olympic gold in 1960, I have to say I'm cheering loudly right now. This sport deserves a judging overhaul.

#18 Calliope

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 06:17 PM

be careful what you wish for. Last time I recall ballet making front page was the "Ballet Bully" headlines from the Martins/Kistler Saratoga incident.
Controversy always stirs up interest. Just not necessarily the interest you would like.

#19 dirac

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 06:43 PM

vagansmom, while I agree with what you say about judging needing an overhaul, I think it's possible to question how the aggrieved parties -- and I don't exempt S&P here -- have conducted themselves, and how this unhappy situation has been resolved. Of course it's a good story, but I wonder whether the media firestorm has illuminated the issues, or obscured them. And giving out a second gold medal, especially in these circumstances, devalues all the medals, IMO.


And it certainly would be pleasant if the arts got as much coverage. Maybe if Dvorovenko hired a couple of stagehands to whack Julie Kent in the knees? Or if ballerinas began giving teary-eyed interviews asserting the perfection of their technique when someone else is assigned to dance the opening "Giselle" of the season...?

#20 sneds

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 07:52 PM

Dirac and everyone else
Having seen both pairs programs and having been at the Olympics for this controversy, I feel that awarding a second set of gold medals was the best solution. The situation needed to be settled for the time being as it was taking over the coverage from the rest of the sports & athletes. I have no doubt that the investigation will be ongoing-there's no way the skating world will let the ISU get away with anything less than a thorough investigation.

Sale and Pelletier have been NOTHING LESS than extremely gracious, polite and have always maintained that they skated their best, and that the rest was out of their (and all other other skaters) hands. In fact, they made it clear today that they were upset that this controversy was taking away newstime/coverage from the other athletes. Sale and Pelletier HAVE NOT been whining at all-they have never said that they should be awarded gold medals. They haven't made any negative comments about the Russians, and were perfectly polite and gracious at the medals ceremony. In fact the handshakes were very sincere and there were smiles at the awards ceremony. We have seen much more of S&P on TV, granted, but that's probably because the Russians are not very comfortable conversing in English and have been advised/decided not to do many interviews. There is no doubt that the press would be very willing to interview B&S had the opportunity been there.
My point is that we SHOULD NOT in any way blame the atheletes, including both B&S and S&P. They both skated brilliant programs, and had nothing to do with the tainting of the judging. PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT blame S&P for this-in all the news coverage they have been humble and polite.
And for the record, all the appeals etc. by the Canadian OC were made according to the rules and regulations. There have been THREE previous cases of two gold medals being awarded, so this is not unprecedented.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but to sum it up-something needed to be done, none of the athletes were at fault and so they should not be blamed for the decision that was made.
Kate

#21 justafan

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 07:55 PM

It seems to me that the skating union gave the gold to S&P so fast in hopes that they could get beyond this scandal -- and quickly. But it's obvious a more thorough investigation and housecleaning has to be conducted.

As someone said it wasn't just the French judge that should be punished here. She's the whistle blower, isn't she? It certainly seems scandalous that the other collaborators haven't been punished.

What's more, I find it really amazing that this Ukrainian judge, Balkov, is scheduled to continue voting on the ice dancing. And with the full support of Ottavio Cinquanta, the skating union president. Balkov was suspended for only a year after a 1998 scandal in Nagano, where he was apparently caught by a Canadian in a similar incident. Cinquanta defends this as saying he served his suspension, and he has a right to judge again. It seems to me both the public and the athletes deserve better. Judging the Olympics doesn't seem to be a right to me.

If this is the attitude Cinquanta and the rest of the skating union take to scandals like this, it's clear that controversy can only help. Without it, it seems there was little incentive to change.

[ February 15, 2002: Message edited by: justafan ]



#22 Colleen

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 08:24 PM

Actually, S&P have not been perfectly gracious, stating several times that their program was 'perfect' and that 'everyone knew that they had won'. Those comments, quickly followed by "not to take anything away from the Russians", were inappropriate. It's one thing to say that there were disappointed in the result but to make a claim for perfection is a little much. And for people not trying to stir up more controversy or detract from other athletes, it seems S&P are on a few too many talk shows to accomplish that.
Like the example stated above, if a principal was not given a role she thought she deserved and made several claims about her 'perfect technique' on several national/international programs this same ballet audience would be very critical of that dancer. The Russians have only appeared once, on Larry King last night, and I would describe them as grace under pressure.

And two gold medals?? I agree that this is simply an attempt to put a quick to the scandal. And it's unfortunate that it turned out this way before a full, independent inquiry was completed and actual evidence of wrongdoing presented to the public.

#23 vagansmom

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 08:31 PM

While it seems as though the French judge is being treated as a scapegoat here, I'm guessing the logic (if one can call it that) in punishing her and no one else lies with the fact that she's the only one who's confessed to the misdeed. She incriminated herself. Since the other judges are apparently remaining close-mouthed, the reasoning seems to be that you can't punish someone without evidence. Of course, it takes two to tango. But I can't figure out any other reason for the actions taken against the French judge alone.

I don't have an opinion about the awarding of the second gold medal. The arguments for and against doing so both have merit. But I DO feel it's good to have the issue addressed promptly.

#24 Colleen

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 08:39 PM

There's also the problem that we can't really know if the French judge, if she was indeed 'pressured', voted for the Russians because of that pressure. It is not necessarily the case that she didn't honestly feel that the Russians were better overall. And 4 other judges, who apparently weren't pressured, agreed with her position. If she was the only one who voted for the Russians then I'd find it very suspicious. But she was only one of five, so obviously her decision had some merit regardless of which pair you personally favour.

#25 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 10:41 PM

one part of the explanation that i heard was that when they disallowed the french judge's marks, the ones that were left were exactly the same for both pairs and were essentially tied.

#26 leibling

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 10:47 PM

Mme. Hermine- that is what I was thinking would be the most fair way to handle the situation- throw out the questionable marks an total the rest. That way the second gold actually means something about figure skating, not the media circus. I hope that is what happened.

#27 drval01

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 11:30 PM

I just heard the Russians in an interview suggest that the French judge had been bribed ("paid a lot of money" was the exact word-choice) to say she had been pressured. That's not my idea of grace under fire or good sportsmanship. frown.gif

#28 vagansmom

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 11:55 PM

I think that both the Russian and Canadian skaters have handled the situation well under the circumstances. I know others have felt that Jamie Sale was "whiney" but frankly I just don't see it. I haven't watched all the interviews though but I think I've seen enough. I caught the interview tonight with the Russian skaters where they said they're afraid they'll be booed by the audience during the exhibition skating. I think they're very wrong about it but I can certainly sympathize with their fears. In their minds they've won the gold, they were looking forward to being presented in that exhibition as the Olympic champions and receiving the accolades that belong to them but that's not going to happen. And it hurts.

It seems to me that it's easy for us to be armchair experts on how these skaters should behave but all four of them are faced with a great deal of pressure that none of them had a hand in creating. They're physically and emotionally exhausted. Any of us who've undergone any kind of physical/emotional exhaustion know how poorly our brains work during such a time. I'm willing to afford them a bit of latitude under the circumstances. I think they're trying hard to not be critical of each other but nevertheless both pairs feel they won the competition and they're stuck having to accept a situation they didn't create. They're all stuck paying the price for someone else's misdeeds.

#29 felursus

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Posted 16 February 2002 - 03:37 AM

Two comments: first of all if the IOC really DID want to do something about this, they would thoroughly investigate all the parties concerned: in this case both the French and the Russians. If either or both parties were found to be at fault the entire skating federation of that nation (or both) should be suspended from competition - and all medals earned by their nationals taken away. This would be hard on the skaters, who in all probability had nothing to do with bribery/pressure (although I can believe that it COULD happen that a skater/skaters who had a lot riding on a competition outcome and who had the money to do so could at least attempt to bribe a judge - and I am not implying in any way that that is what happened at this Olympics).

Now we could not help being aware for years that during the Soviet era all the Eastern nations voted as a bloc - perhaps first for their own national - if there happened to be a serious medal contender - but then always for the Russians second. This was never more transparent than in the victory of the Russian ice dance pair (can't remember their names) over Torvil and Dean a couple of years back. When there was an outcry over that, some of the judges said that T&D had done an "illegal lift". However, it was also pointed out that the Russians had broken the 10-second separation rule - which apparently is supposed to be penalized to the same degree. I'm sure others on this board can think of other examples.

Secondly: Scott Hamilton spoke today of the need for reform in the judging. He feels that a) the judges should be paid and B) that the judges should NOT be representatives of their national skating federations but should be completely independent.

And just to put in my two cents - I think S&P DID behave graciously. Did you expect them NOT to be upset? They DID skate perfectly. The Russians made mistakes. If the Russians had also skated perfectly then they WOULD have deserved the gold medal, but the best program imperfectly performed does NOT warrant a gold medal. One is judging a PERFORMANCE here NOT overall talent or skill. That's what competitions are all about. A performance is a different matter: we loved Margot Fonteyn not because she was a brilliant technician but because of what she brought to her roles, but she would never have won a competiton.

#30 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 February 2002 - 06:57 AM

I believe that Mr. Hamilton's thoughts on an independent adjudication panel has quite a bit of merit to it, and should be investigated for practicality. I still would like to see the whole present judging system methodically pored over and its "group dynamic" opened up. There are conflicting reports of who said what to whom and when, and that the pressure on Mme. Le Gougne came from inside the French delegation alone. There has to be a sociogrammetric diagram of interactions of the French judging delegation with other national delegations, so a broad investigation is not only warranted, but clearly necessary.


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