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Winter Olympics Skating News, part 2 (post-Pairs, men, etc.)


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#16 Ed Waffle

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 02:11 PM

One would think from the tone of the Canadian coverage on Tuesday afternoon and evening that S&P had been ritually slaughtered at center ice. We wanted to see live coverage of speed skating and cross country skiiing. Instead we got the umpteenth rehashing of how terrible it all was and what could be done about it and don't you fell horrible and won't this have a bad effect on all the young skaters coming up.

Enough. I don't know a toe pick from a tow truck, but do know any sporting endeavor in which the outcome is based completely on the decision of judges will be subject to the incompetence or corruptibility of the judges. And ice skating may be the only sport that is so based.

Diving is judged, but each dive is assigned a degree of difficulty that serves as a multiple of the judges's scores. Prizefighting (my favorite sport) has judges, many of whom are corrupt in one way or another, but a fighter can preempt them by knocking out his opponent.

All three medalists were great.

For what it is worth, Sale said she brushed a toe pick on the ice during one landing--this may be the "two footed" one that is under discussion here.

#17 Colleen

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 02:17 PM

I feel the need to stick up for Shae-Lynn and Victor because I honestly believe that they were robbed of a medal in Nagano and at the World's (2yrs ago maybe) where there was actual physical evidence of judges' midconduct. I don't think there's any denying (and we've even discussed it on this forum) that ice dancing has big troubles where fairness is concerned.
And I too am getting tired of Jaime and David's 'scandal'. If there is actual evidence of wrong doing I certainly hope it is brought to light. But until that day, I think it's rude and offensive to publicly claim that the medal is theirs.

#18 Lillian

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 02:56 PM

OK, but let's not blame the athletes here. They are now just puppets in a huge media game. This is a STORY and the media is milking it to the hilt. And if there is proof of corrupt judging, I agree with Scott Hamilton who said it would throw all results, past and present, into question. These kids -- all of them -- work too hard to be treated this way. There's a rumor now that those “whiners” Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz will place fifth in the ice dance competition and that it has all been decided behind closed doors a week before they've even set foot on the ice. This sport is turning into a joke! Give me speed skating any day, where the winner is the person with the fastest time, not a judged mark.
And Mr. Waffle, if you now are unhappy with the CBC's Olympic coverage (which you praised to the hilt before this fiasco) may I kindly suggest you switch channels to Mr. Costas at NBC. CBC is heavily funded by Canadian taxpayers who are probably very interested in this controversy. At least until the hockey games get going…
~Lillian (who is suddenly feeling extremely patriotic)

#19 Natalia

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 04:30 PM

Lilian et. al. - Oh, Canada! It is unfortunate that the examples that I and others cited as 'whiners' & 'whiner-interviewers' are Canadians. Just a coincidence & not meant to be a slap against a great nation.

I'm rooting big-time for Elvis Stojko to continue his brilliant performance tomorrow night. I was so excited for him in last night's SP. And what did Elvis do when the ridiculously low marks came up? He shrugged his shoulders, smiled & looked at the audience of admirers as if to say, 'Folks, this doesn't matter. In the end, I'm a champion & it's YOUR marks that truly count!' Three cheers for a true non-whining champion, Elvis Stojko.

#20 Melissa

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 04:45 PM

Jeannie,

I totally agree with you about Elvis' great performance last night. He's seldom been more charismatic and I loved his footwork sequences.
Can't wait to see his Bruce Lee program Thursday night.

#21 Natalia

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 04:54 PM

Just to point-out the absurd scale to which the Sale/Pelletier Silver Medal story has been taken...now there is speculation as to whether or not the Prime Minister of Canada will lodge a formal complain to President Vladimir Putin, during an upcoming State Visit to Russia. Give me a break! What would Putin do - yank the medals off B/S's necks & hand them to Canada? As if heads-of-state don't have more important things to discuss.

source - The Moscow Times, Feb. 13, 2002

Canada's PM unlikely to bring up Olympics scandal - source
Interfax
. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002, 10:28 PM Moscow Time
MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax) - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is unlikely to raise,
during a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, a recent
scandal involving Russian and Canadian figure skaters, a Canadian government source
said on Wednesday.
The source was speaking at a briefing in Moscow.
The scandal broke out during a competition that was part of the current Winter
Olympics in Salt Lake City, when one vote on the jury tipped the balance of favor of a
Russian figure skating couple, leaving the silver medal to a Canadian pair

#22 dirac

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 05:49 PM

Item from ESPN online on the pairs dispute. The article notes that S&P will now become more famous than if they'd won the medal sans controversy:

http://sports.espn.g...tory?id=1330977

#23 vagansmom

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 08:38 PM

In defense of Elvis: There's no way I'd compare his skating with that of Timothy Goebel. Goebel is a jumping machine - little else, reminiscent of Elaine Zayak, an American some years back, and more recently Midori Ito, who could jump incredibly but that was it. I've always thought that Stojko is vastly underrated because he's not balletic. He's a wonderful example of a skater who stays within himself. He's taken his un-ballet body and whipped it into incredible athletic strength. His presentations, in my opinion, are powerful and jam-packed with choreography and speed throughout, as compared to Goebel who is just killing time in between the jumps.

I've always thought it unfair for judges to insist on ballet as the personification of artistry in figure skating. I happen to prefer it myself, but I can appreciate a masterful performance that isn't ballet-based. To me, Stojko fulfills that.

Without having seen Sale's interviews, I can't comment. But if you must search for a comparison, use Nancy Kerrigan. She's a great example of a bad sport when she lost the gold (rightly or wrongly) to Oksana Baiul.

And finally, I'm so looking forward to the men's long program which hopefully will go to Yagudin. While I'm also a fan of Pluschenko, I still think that even when they both skate cleanly, Yagudin's is the more mature performance (not to mention costume). I was sorry to see Pluschenko fall though. I'd been looking forward to seeing them both skate their best. Theirs is the finest male skating rivalry since the Brians.

#24 Colleen

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 08:57 PM

I agree that ballet is not the be all and end all of artistry, but there is a quality of expression in the face and body that Alexei, Todd etc. have that Elvis lacks. And there's no way you can equate Pluschenko's programs (esp. Michael Jackson) with ballet, but the way he delivers the program is superior to Elvis. And I don't even particularly like the Mike program, so I'm not speaking from an admirer's p.o.v. And a Chinese skater, Li Chengjiang, had a martial arts-inspired SP which was wonderfully presented and he got good marks for it. So I don't think the judges are necessarily predisposed to marking down non-balletic programs, I just don't think Elvis (generally) sells the program to the audience or the judges. He "stays within himself" a little too much.

[ February 14, 2002: Message edited by: Colleen ]



#25 felursus

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 12:42 AM

One of the points in the way a figure skating program is supposed to be judged is not by what was attempted but by what was achieved. If you try something tremendous (eg. a quad) and fail - especially if you two foot the landing or fall (as opposed to doing a triple instead and landing successfully, you lose credit for the jump altogether. Therefore, in the case of the pairs, the fact that the PLANNED and CHOREOGRPHED program of the Russians was better than that of the Canadians, they made several easily visible errors and did not perform perfectly. The Canadians did. They deserved the gold medal.

And now we have the French judge admitting that she had been pressured by her Olympic Committee to vote for the Russians a) to 'revenge' a French defeat by the Canadians in Dec. (don't know the details - no doubt Jeannie can provide them) and B) in exchange for higher marks for the French ice dance couple that are in serious medal contention. Back in the days of the Soviet Union we all knew that all the Communist countries were expected to vote for the Russians - with some "wiggle room" to vote for skaters from their own countries - because the Russians gave them money. So now we know that they are still being pressured. If the statement by the French judge proves true, both the Russian and French skating federations should be penalized - and their skaters banned from international competition for a period of time.

It certainly was clear that more than the Russian win was rigged: those Chinese in third place looked totally outclassed by skaters far below them in the ranks. The Chinese have worked hard, but technical prowess (defeated by the failed quad throw in any case) did not compensate for lack of artistry. And, IMO, the American pair far outshone both the Chinese and the fourth-placed Russians. Well, we will see when it comes to the ice dancing: will the Canadians wreak revenge on the French? When it comes to the singles, will the Russians have "bribed" other nations to mark down the American skaters - currently possible contenders for all three medals? I don't think we've seen the last of this scandal in this Olympics - whatever may happen to the enquiry into the judging of the pairs competition.

#26 Ed Waffle

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 08:33 AM

Lillian wrote:

[quote] And Mr. Waffle, if you now are unhappy with the CBC's Olympic coverage (which you praised to the hilt before this fiasco) may I kindly suggest you switch channels to Mr. Costas at NBC. CBC is heavily funded by Canadian taxpayers who are probably very interested in this controversy. At least until the hockey games get going…

You are right, I am taking a free ride and shouldn't be critical. As far as NBC goes, I would pay to avoid watching their coverage from what I have heard about it and seen in the past. The Olympics can be a wonderful event to cover and watch, especially sports that get almost no coverage in the U.S. like cross-country skiiing in the winter and rowing in the summer. The CBC remains in a different universe from the U.S. based networks.

Additionally, here in southeast Michigan the only radio station I can easily pick up that carries the Saturday afternnon opera from the Met is the CBC from Windsor, Ontario. They carry opera in that time slot year around--an example of what enlightened public policy of government funding for broadcasting.

What surprised me most about the controversy over the judging is the depth and breadth of it. Most people in the U. S. are interested in ice skating during the Olympics--every four years interest peaks.

But within the relatively small world of top flight competitors, coaches, choreographers and officials this could not have been that great a surprise. That judges could be coerced, bribed or otherwise influenced, that votes might be traded and that the final outcomes determined in advance must not, one would think, have started with this Olympics.

#27 Colleen

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 09:43 AM

The French and Italian teams didn't skate to potential in the Grand Prix final, and the Italians even slipped so the Canadian team won gold. So, the alledged pressure would be to ensure that result does not happen again. But if the French judge was 'pressured' why didn't she speak to the referee before the competition. And I find it wonderfully convenient that after the competition she's willing to tell all, presumably endagearing her job, the only reason I can find for her not speaking up before

But truly, the Russian team only made one visible error and contrary to Jaime's overly-broadcasted opinion, the Canadian performance was great, but not flawless. But you don't need to be technically perfect in the LP to win the gold. Like I mentioned before you only need to think back to Oksana and Nancy to remember a case where a great, gold-medal worthy program (Kerrigan's) was defeated by one (Baiul's)with errors. And in that case there were a few errors and not-so-great choreography. And although Kerrigan was obviously upset there was no great public outcry, the US didn't file an appeal, and no one was trying to remove a gold medal from Oksana. And it was a case of Ukraine(aka part of that Soviet Machine that Costas so wanted to topple) vs USA.

So why wasn't there a problem then when the 'scandal' should have been greater? For the exact reason that there is a scandal now. Oksana was a heart-warming 16yr old who won the crowd over. It was her 'spunk', not her program, that won her that gold. But because that's the type of thing audiences like no one really complained. Well, except Nancy of course. And here we have a similar situation. Even though the host of CNN's Talkback Live wrongly stated yesterday that Jaime and David were relative unknowns before Monday night (would it be that hard for CNN to educate their staff on the facts before allowing them on internationally broadcasted programs. calling the reigning world champs, undeafeated in 10 or so major competitions, unknown is a mark of great ignorance), we all know that for the last year or so they've been growing in public adoration. And there is already tendency for American/Canadian audiences to champion non-European skaters when at all possible (unfortunately for her they didn't really seem to like poor Nancy wink.gif ). So all of that is fueling the great controversy over the fact that one of the two gold-capable programs (a comment made by the Canadian commentators) won.

But to penalize the skaters in the event that official wrong-doing was proven (yes proven, not just alledged in the AP) would only add to a sad situation. Elena and Anton only made one mistake, the bobble on the double axel, they are not being accused of judge tampering. So to ban them from skating would be very unfair and wouldn't do anything to solve the problem of judging. And besides, removing all of the French and Russian skaters would get rid of a large proportion of the best international skaters. And that would only serve to make the competitions weak on talent and maybe give some Americans and Canadians shallow victories in Ice Dancing and Men's (the ladies competition is largely between the US and Russia and I think Michelle can beat Irina anyway smile.gif ). If there is an actual problem then it needs to be fixed, but by addressing the conditions that allows judges to be influenced, not by punishing innocent skaters.

#28 Colleen

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 09:52 AM

And Ed it's okay to be critical of the Canadian broadcasting, it has its merits as well as demerits just as the US broadcasting does and you don't need to be a citizen to notice it smile.gif . In the last couple of days I have wondered if the Olympics had been cancelled to give CBC more time to focus on Jaime and David! Yeah the public is interested but it's not the crime of the century that they didn't win gold and there are other Canadian athletes that we should be giving our support to as they begin competing. The CBC is giving this issue as much coverage as CNN gives national/international incidents. And given that no real facts have been uncovered in the 10min interval updates, it's beyond excessive.

#29 Natalia

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 03:38 PM

Jeannie's note to writer of this post, Catlady: Thanks for your impressions/opinion! I'm moving your post to this thread, as it is the more appropriate subject (Winter Olympics vs Nagoya competition). I bet that you intended it to be here! wink.gif

**************
Just wanted to add my two cents to the whole "controversy" surrounding the pairs. I watched the entire competition and was absolutely floored by the Canadians. I thought the program was splendid, very well crafted, had theme and content that carried through and developed and was performed both technically and artistically in a magnificent fashion. I was left unmoved by the russians. I have never been a big fan of the "If I look pained I am really being artistic" style of performing and I thought their program was lacking completely in any sort of theme or content. Swirling around the ice and looking longingly at each other to swelling over-orchestrated music in a program filled with not much more than arm waving and some lifts does not constitute a fulfilling artistic acheievement to me. I thought their short program was better but it too left me cold. I stood up and cheered after the Canadians because they involved me and I had never seen such an inspired, flawless program in competition before. The russians were nowhere near as clean or passionate and there is no doubt in my mind who really won. I personally felt the the Canadian couple were quite diplomatic in the aftermath and it appeared to me that they were both aware that any criticism on their part against the judges would be held against them in future. It isn't their fault the media has jumped on this and made them out to be the wronged ones. How would anyone else resond asked the same question over and over again? Do you feel you won? Of course they do!
The whole competition is a joke, the judging of Ina and Zimmerman is a bigger scandal then the Canadians. They were fabulous and they still got placed far below the other russian pair who were dreadful. Time to find a new way to judge this sport.

#30 catlady

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 04:05 PM

Doh! Thank you! I don't know how I ended up on the other thread but you are correct, this is where I intended to be.


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