Figure skating at the Winter Olympics has always been rife with controversy, and it seems the world is anxious to add yet another act to the ongoing drama in the sport.
According to Eric Freeman of Yahoo Sports, a petition on Change.org entitled "Open Investigation into Judging Decisions of Women's Figure Skating and Demand Rejudgement at the Sochi Olympics" has earned more than 1.6 million signatures after Thursday’s ladies’ figure skating competition came to a divisive finish.
If you don’t remember or aren’t familiar, Adelina Sotnikova of host Russia won the gold medal over Yuna Kim, forcing the reigning Olympic champion from South Korea to settle for silver.
Much of the petition’s argument seems to center on what the announcers for the CBC said during the performances and comparisons to what happened in Vancouver four years ago (a contest judged under different rules, something the creator of the petition acknowledged), which isn't exactly the strongest point to formulate an attack on the credibility of an international organization.
The margin of victory is what may have a number of fans outraged, as the 17-year-old Russian star earned a combined score of 224.59 from the judges after her short program and free skate. The 23-year-old Kim put on an equally impressive performance but only earned a score of 219.11 for her two routines.
One theory explaining this gap is the impact of the raucous crowd, which may have had a hand in influencing the judges to crown the first Russian ladies’ individual champion while the Winter Olympics were on the host soil.
Sotnikova made it clear that she is not concerned with allegations of corruptions and deferred any questions about the scoring to the judges, according to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports:
The judges decided what marks to give. I am not a judge, and I don't decide that. I did what I could, and that was skate. I did the best I could. If there are questions about judging, you should ask judges. I just did my job.
Kim also noted that she was not the one to speak with about the final score when asked if they were fair, as per Wetzel: "Well, the scores are given by the judges. So I am not in the right position to comment, and there is nothing that would change with my words."
The answers were predictable, as Nick McCarvel of NBCOlympics pointed out:
In fact, Ollie Williams of Frontier Sports and a plethora of others knew that as soon as scores were awarded, there would be controversy surrounding the judges:
Regardless, it seems this petition could have some traction.
Freeman noted this petition has already shattered a number of Change.org records. The site is getting hit with five times the normal traffic, a large reason why this particular petition hit 800,000 signatures in the first seven hours and at one point was averaging 10,000 signatures every 15 minutes.
All the voting in the world likely won’t alter the results from the 2014 Winter Olympics. It’s a subjective sport, and Sotnikova put on one of the best performances. Whether or not it was better than Kim’s is up for debate, but the majority of the 14 judges in Sochi believe it was, and therefore the host nation’s representative earned a gold medal.
While everyone loves a great scandal, this judging controversy likely won’t join the ranks of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan’s wild lead-up to the 1994 Winter Games or the 2002 scandal that saw two skating pairs win gold medals due to serious evidence of a fix.
However, if people continue to sign the petition and put pressure and influence on the sport's figureheads to at least acknowledge the issue, something just might be done.