Was Yuna Kim cheated in Sochi? Petition demanding investigation into unfair figure-skating judging gets 1.95m signatures

Published 22 February 2014  |  
AP
Women's Olympic free skate figure skating medalists - Italy's Carolina Kostner, bronze, Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, gold, and South Korea's Yuna Kim, silver, pose with their medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.

The Olympic ladies figure skating results is riddled with controversy after South Korean hot favorite Yuna Kim settled for a silver and Russian teen Adelina Sotnikova took gold in her home country.

Sotnikova was awarded the highest score in the free program on Feb. 20– a whopping 149.95 – and won the event with a total score of 224.59. That is just 3.97 short of Yuna Kim's record combination score of 228.56 she set at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when she skated what has been dubbed the best Olympic skate ever.

Kim skated a nearly flawless free skate long program, but scored only 144.19, receiving a total of 219.11. Sotnikova took the lead not just marginally, but by a major 5.48, despite a two-footed landing after one of her jumps. Sotnikova, who landed seven triple jumps (not all of them cleanly), was awarded the high mark while Mao Asada of Japan, who landed eight triple jumps, including the notoriously difficult triple axel (the only woman in the world to succesfully execute the jump), only scored 142.71 points. 

These results led to questionable "home-cooking." International media and social media went into a frenzy when the score was announced, with many blaming the unfair Olympic judging panel.

A CBC commentator said, "As caught up in the moment as I was... I'm still stuck on quality of skating that Yuna Kim has, and the moments where you see jarring images during Sotnikova that she's not ready yet ...The judges have their job and I really look forward to looking at it again so I can see it with fresh eyes but yes I am sitting here a little stunned."

Joseph Inman, a top U.S. international judge told USA Today: "I was surprised with the result."

Just moments after the results was announced, a petition was launched on change.org, demanding an investigation into the judging panel. The petition, titled "Open Investigation into Judging Decisions of Women's Figure Skating and Demand Rejudgment at the Sochi Olympics" has already garnered over 1.95 million signatures.

However, most of the traffic came from South Korea, and a team had to keep up to prevent servers from crashing as hundreds of thousands logged on to sign the petition.

The Olympic judging panel of nine for the long program was drawn from a pool of 13 judges. Judges from South Korea, U.S., Great Britain and Sweden were not chosen for the long program, but were replaced by controversial Ukrainian judge Yuri Balkov, who was involved in the rigging scandal to fix the Nagano ice dancing competition and was kicked out of judging for a year. Another judge for the long program is Alla Shekhovtseva, who is married to the Russian ice-skating federation general director Valentin Pissev.

The judges' scores are kept anonymous after the International Skating Union adopted a new judging system. The anonymity of the judges can hide judges who could be cheating.

Do you think Yuna Kim should have won the Olympic gold?

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