In honor of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, I am going to brief you on the most egregious injustice ever enacted in any Olympic game since its inauguration. The year is 2014, and the place is Sochi, Russia. The figure skating world was applauding the defending Olympic champion, Yuna Kim, a South Korean figure skater known internationally for her refined style and textbook technique. She was the overwhelming favorite for the gold medal in Sochi, so it was unexplainable that after her two flawless programs, she was awarded the silver medal.
A six-time World medalist, two of which are gold, Yuna Kim has more than proven to the world that she is the queen of figure skating. And, as the defending Olympic champion, Yuna Kim’s spotless record and emotive performances were sure to win her another gold. She began her short program skating to “Send in the Clowns,” and finished with her free program skating to “Adios Nonino.” After this, both scores are totaled up to decide the podium. Her short program to “Send in the Clowns” was intimate and moving, even bringing one commentator to say, “she may be the one of the greatest competitors [she has] ever witnessed.” The arena was so silent you could hear a pin drop, and by the end of her last pirouette, the crowd began to erupt as Yuna Kim began to beam, knowing she had successfully proven herself as the best. Her free program provoked the same response, although more playful than the short program, her artistic interpretation of the music proved outstandingly impressive throughout every technical element of her skate. After both programs, commentators applauded her as “Queen Yuna,” fully aware that her performances were superior to any other in the competition. They knew Yuna Kim would win this, so for Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova to steal the gold out from Yuna Kim’s worthy grasp was shocking. Sotnikova stumbled in both her short program and free program showcasing under-rotated and pre-rotated jumps and edge violations, all of which should have been deductions. The judges seemed to turn a deliberate blind eye to these clear missteps. In addition, Sotnikova’s lack of expression and emotion during her routines was visible to fans and commentators alike. After her performance, commentators even noted that the judges seemed to be “very, very generous” with Adelina’s scoring, and that it was inconsistent with the scoring of the other skaters.
Sotnikova’s “victory” was no mistake, however. It is widely speculated her scores were intentionally inflated due to corruption on the judging panel in her home country of Russia. Many Olympic figure skaters who were in attendance at the event were shocked to see this scoring discrepancy and awarded the victory to the home crowd and problematic judging panel. The Korean Olympic Committee even filed an official complaint to the ISU (International Skating Union) challenging the makeup of the judging panel, alleging of some obstruction of justice within the sport of figure skating itself at the Sochi Olympics. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) dismissed the complaint.
After an egregious breach in justice like this, it is so important to address the conflicts of interests in the judging process of figure skating. Judges are somehow allowed to judge competitors from their own countries, practically asking for biased scores. In addition, officially sanctioned judges by the IOC known for shady practices, including bribery, are still hired as judges for events internationally, including this 2018 Olympic games. The ISU is only perpetuating a well-known corruption in the sport, so much so, that it begs the validity of the sport of figure skating itself. With so many athletes committed to flaunting their artistry and skill in front of a rapt audience, it is a shame that their talent and hard work has to be marred by a corrupt money-hungry committee with clear nationalistic inclinations and a history for devaluing this beautiful sport.
While Yuna Kim remains the obvious winner of the 2014 Ladies’ Figure Skating competition who was so grossly robbed by abject Russian depravity, little can be done to rectify the infraction of justice enacted here. Instead, it is so important to focus on exposing the extreme misconduct and wrongdoings in a committee that claims to be wholly unbiased. There is an old saying in figure skating: “come for the skating, stay for the drama,” and this can always be applied to the Winter Olympic cycle. Happy Olympics!
*This is not an old saying -– I made it up.