It’s probably fair to say that figure skating came out of the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi with a bit of an injured reputation. Just as they were about to begin, the French sports magazine L’Equipe broke a story about rumoured collusion between the Russian and American judges to vote for each other’s skaters in the team and ice dance events to deny Canadian competitors shots at gold and assure their own skaters won instead.
I didn’t read the expose, so I don’t know what evidence L’Equipe had, but it’s a pretty reputable magazine. And, as it happened, the scenario that L’Equipe predicted played out. Russia won gold in the team event and U.S. skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White edged out the defending Canadian gold medalists in ice dance Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
I read one news report that talked about there having been a change in fashion in ice dance with the judges drifting back to a more classical notion of the discipline which left Moir and Virtue on the outside looking in. And I believe the Americans had beaten them in an earlier competition of some sort, so it’s not like it was a major upset. Although eyebrows were certainly raised after the gold medal showdown when Virtue and Moir spoke critically about their coach Marina Zueva having not divided her time fairly between them and their arch-rivals from the U.S. — uh … excuse me, you guys have the same coach? WTFITAA?
But the ice dance and team events weren’t the only ones where the judging was called into question. And that left medals in more than a few disciplines somewhat tarnished.
Another black eye happened when Russian star Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the men’s singles competition after allegedly aggravating a pre-existing back injury in the team event. That left Russia hooped as he didn’t withdraw until after the deadline to replace him with another skater had passed. As a result, Plushenko took a bit of heat from Russian media and figure skating fans. Earlier this month though Plushenko had back surgery which seemed to legitimize his story.
Plushenko wasn’t the only disappointment during the competition. Lots of other skaters didn’t perform well either. Still, there’s no denying that for fans of figure skating the artistry and athletic skill that the skaters display is very compelling. And they’ll be plenty of talented performers at the Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championship which is being held at Cooperators Centre at Evraz Place March 28-30.
You can find more details on the event here. And to get everyone pumped, here’s the trailer for the Will Ferrell parody Blades of Glory which co-stars Jon Heider: