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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Responses, Part 4
Should judging in figure skating be examined?

Here are responses to the above question:

Judging in the Olympics is a bit of a farce. It will always be subject to favourtism, back scratching and possibly corruption. I am of the frame of mind that the Olympics should be restricted to sports that are quantifiable: Who threw the javelin the farthest? Who ran 1,000 m the fastest? Who skied the quickest? There should be no discrepancies or ambiguities. Athletes should also be given the same equipment with which to compete, otherwise is it the athleticism that wins the sport or a country's wealth in athletic sponsorship and high-tech R&D? Sports with artistic merit cannot possibly be judged fairly for all those that participate and watch. If artistic merit is truly allowed should we have figure skaters playing violin while performing (a la Laurie Anderson)? There is a platform and stage for the marriage of sport and artistic merit. I just don't think that it is the Olympics. Should Marathon have been given style points?
Peter Welsh

The fans in the arena, the commentators , everyone knew the Canadian duo had won, until we were shocked by the scores. Take a look at which judges scored low, to give the Russians the gold, and that gives you an idea of how political( and unfair)this world stage event is! Shame on them. Go Canada go.

I have long suspected that North American athletes are at a distinct disadvantage when judging is involved and last nights performance is a prime example. It may seem that way because I am Canadian, but try as I might to be impartial in my own judgment; I still think that the Canadian skating pair was robbed of the gold metals! What can be done about this situation? The Olympic Committee may have to take a long look at itself on how judging is being done at the games because it is not improving their image in my mind.
Lawrence Thoms

My name is Diane Wilson and I competed in figure skating until I was sixteen years old (I am now 23). I have never been less proud of the sport of figure skating as I am now. The Canadian pair skated a perfect routine that was passionate and technically clean. The Russian pair failed to complete a simple element (the double axel) and was shaky on many of their other components. Yet, as we Canadians have witnessed time and time again, the gold was given to the Russian pair. All watching the two pairs knew who the real winner was, what were the judges looking at? I feel that figure skating is becoming less of a sport and more of a political showdown between judges. And what is this I hear about judges watching practices prior to the event, and athletes being able to speak with them? The judges should be like a courtroom jury. Athletes should not be able to speak with them before an event. They must remain impartial. Clearly, this is not happening, and I am watching a beautiful sport go to the dogs.
Diane Wilson

Judging definitely should be examined in Figure skating. What I witnessed watching the long skate program last night was a crime. It was evident to everyone who should have received the gold medal except the Judges. What gives! Were there monetary rewards if a certain couple were given the points, even if they didn't earn them! From a fan of figure skating I have to say I am loosing faith in the sport and wonder if it should even be a event in the Olympics if they will allow this sort of thing to continue to happen. Officials have tightened up the drug doping rules for the athletes, why not adhere rules to certain judges. In my opinion, there is a very serious problem and if the event should continue it better be rectified!
Dale Kuokka
I think all judging at any level should be reviewed by an independent board, before the final results are totaled.

I'm writing this from Minneapolis. During the opening ceremonies when the oath was taken by the representative for all the judges, I turned to my husband and said "unless you are a figure skating judge". It was never as clear as it was last night that it is a very dirty business. It should be examined, dissected and cleaned up before the next international competition. What a disappointment.
J. Silver

Put me down as one Yank who thinks the fine Canadian pair was robbed. Reminds me of the audacity of their awarding Nancy Kerrigan only the Silver a few years back. The judges judge the skaters, but who's judging the judges?
Roger Dobrick
Milwaukee, WI, USA

Figure skating is a beautiful, artistic and athletically demanding endeavour. It is however as much of a sport as professional wrestling, with which it shares the propensity to fix events. It should be removed from the Olympics along with all other judged "sports", because of their inherent corruption. What a horrible thing to happen not only to Sale and Pelletier but also to Ina and Zimmerman who deserved the bronze. I hope that they still get all of the endorsements and financial success that a gold would have gotten to them. They may be second on the podium but they're first in the hearts of all Canadians.
Dan Furst

Yes. I was appalled last night. I think I won't even watch the dance competition later in the week because the judging is even more messed up there and it will drive me crazy. I think the only way to influence the ISU might be for skaters to rally around the issue and not skate, or for broadcasters/media to not cover events. Both of these could be a form of protest and might have some effect.
Rachel Corbett

Of course, it is an embarrassment to the Olympics. I can't believe the Olympics are letter the sport tarnish its image.
Jared Kitcher

Absolutely! I have watched incredible performances over the years, especially by Canadians like Bourne and Kratz and time and again at Olympic competitions the rug has been pulled from under them. It happened again last night with Sale and Pelletier. Unless something is done about the lobbying and vote fixing this sport will lose me as a watcher. The greatest crime however is what it must do to the morale and dedication of of such fine athletes. Why bother skating your heart out if there is no honest or legitimate reward.
Bonnie Dickie

The Canadians were the actual winners of the pairs skating competition. Everyone who watched knows what the result should have been. How on earth can the judges think that the entire world is blind to their dishonesty?! They must have marked their score cards before the skaters actually entered the arena. We are thoroughly disgusted! (From a U.S. citizen)
M. H. Neale

If it is possible (which I doubt) to set up some sort of impartial method of judging the performance of the judges themselves that would ensure the removal of those judges who displayed incompetent or biased performances (and perhaps delay for some years the appointment of new judges from their home countries), then perhaps events which required such judging should be continued as part of the Olympics. It might be possible to judge the judges performance on the basis of a detailed video review of the already judged skating performances by a completely different group of judges, but how does one ensure this review would be impartial? Conclusion - ban subjectively judged events from the Olympics.
R. Harris-Lowe

Absolutely! I have been watching figure skating for years and the results are always the same. The Russians and their accomplices always vote the same. There is absolutely no objectivity in their judging. I think it's pathetic and most unfair that a flawless program takes second place to a flawed program. This must be very discouraging and heartbreaking to our skaters. Drug usage is considered cheating in Olympic sports. The judging we often see in figure skating can also be categorized as cheating. If the situation cannot be corrected, consideration should be given to canceling the sport on the world scene. After all, if the best can't win, what is the point of holding these events?
Eva Fortin

What does Dick Pound have to say about the judging situation? In addition to running the doping agency, he should get to deal with the dopes behind the number pads.

Obviously, I, like many other Canadians who watched the pairs skating competition last night feel cheated. I feel sorry for Salé and Pelletier, and contempt for judges who allow a skating competition to become a political forum. What exactly was being judged here - because it couldn't have been the performances. A major house-cleaning is overdue by the IOC in the way figure skating judges are chosen. Where is the accountability? This is not the first time we experience a judging controversy, and I'm sure it won't be the last. It's really too bad. It's an insult to all who support this sport. I await a statment from the CFA.
L. Hayes
Windsor, Ontario

I watched a flawless performance last night, and have to wonder what the judges were watching. Our skaters can be proud of themselves because they know they are the best in the world.

All Olympic sports that require "judging" are suspect but figure skating has always been the most suspect. I've got to the point that I would prefer to see no "new" sports added to the Olympics that require judging.
William Hallam

Did everyone else not see the representative of all of the Olympic officials take an oath vowing to be honest in fair in their judging at the games? To me, if this oath has been violated, it should be investigated by the IOC. If something is not done, it will damage the integrity and credibility of judging for all future Olympic and International events, at least in the sport of figure skating. Angela Farmer
Brampton, ON

Judging in the Olympics is the reason why I don't watch the Games. It is a farce to the spirit of the Olympics that such dishonesty from officials and sometimes the athletes themselves make more headlines than the effort of long years of practice. I am sad for Salé and Pelletier. They are two classy individuals who did their best only to be judged unfairly. As long as this type of discrimination exists in the Olympics it will always taint the meaning of true competition. I feel sorry for the athletes who train night and day for so long in hopes of representing their country, only to have competitions rigged and medals decided even before the Games begin. What a joke!

If Bourne and Kraatz are held to a low position after the first dance despite having performed an excellent routine, then they should refuse to participate in the final free skate. I would think that that would capture the attention of the international media.
Peter McLennan

I honestly believe that all the Canadian teams should boycott the Olympics, period. This is an outrage; and only a dramatic gesture is sufficient to shake up the effete corps of intellectual snobs that make up the Olympic Committee.
Roland Laporte

Jamie and David: Throw your silvers into Salt Lake (is there such a lake?), leave Salt Lake City, then make a gazillion dollars in professional skating and promotions. Look after yourselves. The Olympics is a sham: Ask the Canadian hockey amateurs who had to play against the Russian hockey 'amateurs', Dick Pound et al.
G. Par

It has always appeared fixed and no matter how upset people get who are in a position to do something about it, nothing gets done. It spoils the entire Olympic spirit and quite honestly, makes watching a complete waste of time. Why doesn't anyone do anything about it?
Donna M. Miller

Having the spotlight placed on the ice dancing judges awhile back, changed that judging for the better. It's time to do the same for the pairs judging. Unfortunately, judging is subjective, however, it is quite easy to see which judges are voting as a bloc. The Canadian pair was definitely the better on this night. I, also, feel that the U.S. skaters scores were on the low side compared to the 4th. score.

I have always over the years distrusted the judges with regards to skating competitions in either the Olympics or the Worlds, but, I am appalled at last nights judging. I think all of the judges in all the skating categories should be fired and a serious look at the judging rules be reviewed by the IOC and new policies put in place. This blatant disgraceful judging has been going on for years and must be stopped. They are making a mockery of skating. I also disagree with Mr. Pounds' views that "dance skating" should be removed from the Olympics because of the judging. Well!! Get rid of the judges; they are the problem.
Judy Marshall

Why bother entering this event (let's not call it a sport)? Why bother funding it? Skating has all the credibility of boxing or the WWF. It's clearly corrupt and the medals are decided behind closed doors, not on the ice. Shame on the five judges. Shame on the "sport".
Walter Melnyk

The judging at the Games should certainly be reviewed. The Canadians won last night. The judges who voted against them did so as a block. That's obvious. The judges predetermined the outcome. The U.S. team should have been third, the Russians second.

Figure skating/ice dancing should be removed from the Olympics. they are not sport, only spectacle. The only real competition is what happens behind the scenes in the judges' cabal. I for one will never watch this event again and I've lost my appetite for the other more legitimate events as well.
Steve Peterson

I think the judging inconsistencies are an embarrassment to a wonderful sport. The collusion between certain countries in judging greatly hinders fair competition and the fulfillment of an athlete's dreams.
Dave Gierent

Why bother? Judging is pre-determined. Many thought so during previous games, and if any were in doubt, after last night's fiasco with Sales and Pelletier, surely they are convinced now. Would it be beneficial to any of the events to have the judging examined? No, it's clearly a political game, I'm almost determined not to continue watching the 2002 games. However, out of respect for those Canadian Athletes who have trained so hard for so long, I would be remiss not to show my support during their events. Will I watch any events without a Canadian contender? No. Shame on the Olympic officials for allowing this to happen, and shame on Canada for not standing up and speaking out on their behalf, as the US or Russia would certainly have done. But, we are Canadian, and we only did what the world has expected from us. Step aside quietly, and don't make a fuss.

Despicable judging! An embarrassment to the sport and the field of judging. Could not believe my eyes or ears! What will it take before the governing body truly looks at the judging and how to repair the almost irreparable damage its done to the credibility and respect of the sport. One would have thought that Bourne and Kraatz had dealt with this enough (and hopefully in the past) but now it filters out into other areas of skating as well. I am seething!! Deborah

The Olympic committee has to get involved to remedy such blatant unfair behaviour by so-called judges (it is far away from honest judging) This has gone on for far to many Olympics. We are enthusiastic fans of the sport and are simply sick to witness one more time such brutal and blatant behaviour, what is wrong with these unfair people how come they get invited to do it again and again?

They were incredible last night. There was no reason they shouldn't have won the gold. Definitely judging should be reexamined.
Elaine Wong

Yes Judging in Figure Skating should examined. Salé and Pelletier were perfect, beautiful and there was a story going on the ice between them. It was a perfect solo. They were smooth, flying on the ice. They are my Olympic Champions and I'm sure everyone's Champions who watched the competition last night. I've been in figure skating for 25 years now and I can't believe that judging is still so biased. Something has to be done.

In software (and other industries, I'm sure) we often perform a 'post-mortem' review when thing go wrong. I think they should do that in this case - if only to clear the air. I would take each judge, have them watch tapes of each routine, and have an expert panel ask them how they made the decisions they did. Once they have this information, they can start looking at some solutions: 1. More judges at each even - say 20. 2. Less weight for artistic components - they are too subjective. 3. Random selection of the 20 judges from a large pool - AT THE LAST MINUTE, so that deals can't be made. 4. Adjust judges scores based on past biases - if they always favour certain skaters, this should be factored in.
Dean Ecclestone

Should the judging be examined? Let's put them through a judicial inquiry. What they have done makes the 1988 100m sprint gold medal winner look bush league (you know who he is and he has suffered enough). Shame on them. Perhaps the judging should just be replaced by the other competitors. Even the victorious Russian skaters looked a little sheepish accepting the gold medal. As for the great Canadian Pairs team. Good going! You know in your hearts and minds that you walked away with the Gold and a clean conscience!
Virginia, USA

Yes, I believe the judging needs to be examined. I am a former figure skater and am a qualified judge/evaluator at the lower levels. I am embarrassed by the apparent partialities that were demonstrated in the pairs competition. While I enjoyed the skating immensely, the partiality of the judging quickly changed that enjoyment. To this point, the partiality appeared to be limited to ice dancing. It is now apparent that it is more prevalent that I thought. The ISU does not appear to be serious in its dealings with the judging issues. I believe that figure skating should be excluded from the Olympics until the ISU cleans the judging up. For the summer Olympics, triathlons were almost excluded due to internal issues. The same may happen to figure skating.
S. Mann

The figure skating judging is a perfect mirror of what the Olympics sadly have become. The Olympic movement uses these extremely hard working athletes to enable the privileged mandarins to lead the lives of kings, with only a medal as a reward. In the pairs competition, the power of the behind the scenes mandarins destroys the integrity of the sport and the athletes. The saddest part of this whole charade is that the Olympics learned absolutely nothing from Nagano and the judging fixes. Many of us snickered about Bridge being an Olympic sport, but at least we know who won honestly. I would like to suggest the Olympics change the format for the skating. Let's have the judges pick the gold medallist beforehand, and have the rest of the skaters compete in a cribbage tournament for placing. There could then be an skating exhibition in the closing ceremonies.

Absolutely! What happened last night was a travesty. Even the untrained eye could see that Sale and Pelletier had won with a flawless performance - a paragon of human endeavour. How can the decision have any credibility when the judging bias is so patently obvious?
Lyle MacWilliam

Should judging in figure skating be examined? Yes!!! There is too much politics, both on a local and global level, which takes away from the true spirit of the sport. Why are judges chosen that have shown inappropriate bias in the past? I would imagine that it is an honor to judge major competitions and that there would be no shortage of interest. Or is the selection of judges politically motivated as well? The Olympic Pairs competition will be replayed over and over for months to come and there will be no question on who the good judges are, or who the true winners were.
Roman Stanek

This is the only time when I wished I wasn't Canadian - so my extreme disgust at the horrible judging couldn't be considered biased. Sale and Pelletier skated (arguably anyway) the most inspiring skate I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I really, really hope they know how proud all of Canada was and is for them. They were true champions before and after, and showed amazing restraint and grace from a despicable showing from the judges. I cannot understand why there isn't a closer review of the judges' bias. With all of the fallout from the caught-on-tape signaling from the last skating Olympics and the atrocious boxing judging - you would think that this year they would try to be above reproach. I have never seen a more complete failure on IOC's part to inspire confidence in the system. The judges - and then by extension the IOC - has lost all credibility and respect. It is my fervent hope that there is an investigation by the IOC and they get the judges to play-by-play their scoring and explain themselves. Sale and Pelletier - thank you for making me proud to be Canadian. IOC and Judges - well, let's just say you know where you can go to.
Adrian George

Yes, for the 100th time. Politics. We have lost interest in the Olympics now. We're renting videos for the rest of the Games.
Greg Allen

The Judging is now, and has been for many years "Fixed". Everyone knows it but IOC officials who are blind, deaf and dumb to the obvious. International Figure skating is the WWF of the Skating world.
K. Watson

The "judging" has once again brought disrepute to the Olympic Games. The judges who demoted the winners of the pairs competition last night should, must (!) be exposed as the corrupt politicos that they are. Salé and Pelletier clearly won the competition, and were denied the gold by the scum of the sporting world. All they have shown is that there is no justice for the west in the international world of sport.
D.J. Pearce

After last night's disgraceful, embarrassing display of officiating, I told both of my talented, athletic sons to never compete in a sport that requires a judge. It is corrupt, self-serving, partisan to the core and should be banned from international competition. There is no competition.
James Porteous

It just might be time to drop figure skating as a medal event at the Olympics. The judging for the pairs was unacceptable, especially considering the crowd's chant for "6.0". The sad thing is that it's only going to get worse with the Dance, and Men and Women singles. After that stupid s--- last night, I'm starting to think Elvis doesn't even have a chance.
Robert Brander

It was completely fair. The Russians were excellent, mature, sophisticated and skated a much more difficult program that the Canadians. Nice try Salé, in taking the Russians "out" in the warm up- who were you going for the girl? Maybe next time you will weasel your way to the gold. Kissing the ice - nice touch Pelletier- guess your manipulating tactics did not work on all the judges.

I had a funny feeling last night before Salé and Pelletier skated, thinking there was no way they would get gold. Right I was! Those judges should be ashamed of themselves and put in front of the media for questioning about the results they gave last night. So much rides on the shoulders of our athletes, yet these judges hide behind a veil of secrecy. I think it is disgusting to see such rigging in such a high sport. Dick Pound should suspend those and forever forbid them from ever judging another Olympic event.
Eddie Vlasblom

Its been said before, if there isn't a clock, or a finish line involved its tough to have a fair sport. Bad break, they looked great.
Borre van Doorninck

There is clearly a bias in favour of the status-quo [Russia/Europe] and against Canada, we won the skating but lost the judging.
James Gibson

It is a waste of time and energy for all concerned to have figure skating as an Olympic event. The judging is so biased, so flagrantly biased, on the part of eastern bloc and communist nations that it is sickening. and as for the French -- well enough said. Their xenophobia knows no limits and is outdone only by their hypocrisy. Let it be an exhibition spectacle at the games and that's it.
Stan Revich

Yes.... the judging needs to be examined. It's clearly a scam! Salé and Pelletier clearly deserved the gold! They were perfect, whereas Sikharulidze and Berezhnaia were not. And previous to their skating, the American couple (Zimmerman and Ina) clearly skated better than the second best Russian couple (I don't remember their names).... clearly the judges were favouring Russia over the North American couples. These results should be disqualified!
Nora T.

A golden performance from golden athletes. It was obvious that their dance was flawless, confidence and chemistry clearly displayed. I am absolutely dismayed and heart broken for them. Too bad the judges missed it. I can only wonder at the kind of off-ice deals that are struck by the amazing clowns we refer to as judges.
D. L. Jaques
Regina, Sask.

It just might be time to drop figure skating as a medal event at the Olympics. The judging for the pairs was unacceptable, especially considering the crowd's chant for "6.0". The sad thing is that it's only going to get worst with the Dance, and Men and Women singles. After that stupid s--- last night, I'm starting to think Elvis doesn't even have a chance.
Robert Brander
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