South Korea demand probe into Sochi figure skating final
AFP Sunday, February 23, 2014, 12:06 am TWN
SOCHI, Russia -- South Korea have demanded a review of the controversial Olympic Games women's figure skating competition which saw national heroine Kim Yu-na beaten to gold by Russia's Adelina Sotnikova.
Defending Olympic champion Kim was relegated to the silver medal position by the Russian 17-year-old in Thursday's free skate despite putting in an error-free performance to be beaten by 5.48 points.
It was a decision which prompted accusations of judges being influenced by the passionate support of the crowd to guarantee a victory for the host nation.
Within hours, the website of the popular online campaigning forum, Change.org, crashed and almost two million have now logged on to sign a petition calling for a review of the judges' scores.
In a new twist, the South Korean Skating Union has written to the International Skating Union (ISU) to review whether or not the judging was accurate.
"The South Korean team in Sochi has politely requested the Korean Skating Union to ask ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta to review the women's figure skating singles (to see) if it followed the rules of ISU standards," said a statement.
Sotnikova's victory has polarized the sport with Russian coaches and officials vigorously defending the teenager and dismissing allegations of a plot.
One of the nine judges at Thursday's final was Ukrainian Yuri Balkov, who was suspended for a year for his involvement in a fixing scandal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics ice dancing competition.
Another judge, Alla Shekhovtseva, is married to Russian federation general director Valentin Piseyev.
But Shekhovtseva's integrity was backed by Eteri Tutberidze, the Russian women's coach who handles Julia Lipnitskaia, who was fifth in Thursday's final.
"She has been an international judge for many years and there have never been any allegations," said Tutberidze.
"For me Adelina was the champion. I have never seen her before as concentrated and focused. There were jumps, spins, spirals and all those elements. Taken together Adelina is the winner."
Sotnikova's choreographer Pyotr Chernyshov said the teenager was a worthy champion.
"We were following the rules that the modern game was offering and we won this game," said the former Russian-American ice dancer.
"You have to be an expert in figure skating to know the rules now. When you ask a professional figure skater there is no doubt who won on the night. It's very subjective.
"Not everyone has the same taste, somebody likes red, somebody likes blue ... who's right? Somebody likes more athletics, some more balletic, some like Swan Lake ... who's right, who's wrong?"
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Saturday that the Korean protest would not involve them.
"From what I understand the letter would not trigger an investigation," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
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