The gold medalist was already decided in ladies’ figure skating at the Sochi Olympic Games, but the surprising outcome continues to create a stir at home and abroad.
A slew of foreign news reports have sympathized with Koreans enraged by “home-cooked” judging, raising a question over the “opaque judging system.”
However, some believe the embattled judges got the result “right” this time despite the possible collusion that may have taken place.
The New York Times viewed the South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na’s routine as “not the most athletically challenging.” The U.S. daily cited a two-time Canadian Olympic silver medalist as saying, “It was totally fair. Kim didn’t have enough technical ammunition.”
Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, who captured the controversial gold in the event, outpaced Kim on the technical side, TIME said.
According to the U.S. weekly magazine, Sotnikova completed seven triple jumps to Kim’s six. In the three-jump combination attempted by both skaters, the Russian pulled off a triple-double-double, while Kim only did a double-double-double, which gave Sotnikova a higher score than Kim.
Sotnikova’s skating appeared more “tailor made” for the new scoring system in place since the 2006 Olympics, which gives numerical value to each element and favors “mathematics” at the expense of “artistry.”
Even so, “The judging was clearly slanted towards Adelina Sotnikova,” the newspaper USA TODAY quoted a high-ranking Olympic figure skating official as saying on condition of anonymity.
The paper took issue with the questionable judging in Thursday’s event. It turned out that one of the judges was married to the former president of the Russian figure skating federation and another, from Ukraine, was suspended for a year after attempting to fix the results at the 1988 Nagano Olympics.
Despite the mounting uproar, the International Skating Union has yet to acknowledge a query about the judging. The official statement only read, “ISU is confident in the high quality and integrity of the ISU judging system.”
Still, Kim seemed to lack the power and speed that set her apart and earned her record-setting scores back in 2010, according to TIME: “She should have brought in bigger technical elements” if she had wanted to defend her Olympic crown.
The Washington Post, on the other hand, thinks figure skating has always been about more than just jumps. The U.S. paper pinpointed “Russiaflation,” which made Sotnikova “the most unaccomplished women’s champion” in Olympic history.
“Queen” Yu-na herself seems to be okay. She said that the gold medal was not her main goal and the most important thing was to participate in these games.
Yet fans worldwide do not seem to be okay. A petition on the website change.org calling for an investigation into the event’s judging had drawn nearly 2 million signatures as of 6 p.m. Korean time on Sunday.
By Ock Hyun-ju, Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)