Following the ice dancing short dance team events, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White were approached by the media with questions regarding an alleged scandal involving the trading of first place finishes between the Russians and the United States. An anonymous senior Russian judged leaked the supposed barter to the media during the ice dance portion of the team event last night.
This supposed trade would give the Russians the gold in the team event, and would secure a first place finish for Davis and White in the ice dance event, denying Tessa Virtue and Scott Moyer the a repeat gold at the games (they edged out Davis and White in Vancouver four years ago).
United States Figure Skating denied the allegations. “Comments made in a L’Equipe story are categorically false,” said the federation in a statement. “There is no ‘help’ between countries. We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture.”
Not to belittle the severity of these allegations, but it seems that this supposed trade is irrelevant; Russia totally dominated every discipline, except ice dancing, on merit alone.
Without question, Evgeny Plushenko, who is competing in his fourth Olympics, showed the world that at 31-years-old he can still put on a top-notch performance. Teen ladies singles competitor Yulia Lipnitskaya has been phenomenal since she was 12 years old, and has only matured to an even more precise and elegant skater. The best of this Russian team might just be the pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, whose performance finished a full 10 points ahead of the flawless pair of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada. Additionally, Virtue and Moyer didn’t look their best today when Virtue bobbled a transition on their side-by-side twizzles.
Not only is this allegation harmful to the US and Russian figure skating programs, this is a detrimental blow to the sport as a whole. Figure Skating already has a difficult way to go when it comes to being recognized as a true sport. Scoring is totally subjective, no matter what anyone tells you, and the “old boys club” mentality (although it’s probably more like Gossip Girl) of the skating community sometimes leaves even the youngest amateur skaters disappointed after testing and competition. Even at the lowest levels there are instances of judges overlooking the rules in favor of “helping” skaters that are coached by friends of the judging panel, and favorites are played at the rink all the time.
Even if this scandal proves untrue, which it likely is because let’s be real, the Americans and the Russians cooperating on something in figure skating would be as likely as the Boston-New York sports rivalry coming to an end, the negative media attention has shrouded this discipline in the Olympics that already has plenty of skeletons in its closet.