- Figure Skating
Wagner 'speechless' at ladies' free skate results
American Ashley Wagner, who displayed displeasure for Olympic figure skating judges during the team event with a facial expression that swept across the Internet, let her words do the talking on Thursday.
"People need to be held accountable,” Wagner said after Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova claimed ladies gold in Sochi. “They need to get rid of anonymous judging. There are many changes that need to come to this sport if we want a fan base."
Wagner’s voice was among a chorus of experts and former champions who expressed shock at Thursday’s results – not just that Sotnikova defeated reigning champion Yuna Kim, but that the margin of victory was so large.
Embedded video_content_type: Ashley Wagner breaks down her free skate
Sotnikova’s long program score was 5.76 points more than overwhelming favorite Kim and 7.34 points ahead of bronze medalist Carolina Kostner.
"I am stunned by this result, I don't understand the scoring," Katarina Witt, the 1984 and 1988 champion was heard commentating on German TV from her booth at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Wagner, who finished seventh after the ladies’ free skate, said she was “speechless.”
"I saw a lot of very nice, decent landings (from Kim)," she said.
"People don't want to watch a sport where you watch people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean. It's confusing and we need to make it clear for people.”
There had been rumblings for days that Russian figure skaters were being marked rather generously at the Sochi Olympics, especially after Sotnikova became the first Russian to win the women's title with a surprising free skate score of 149.95.
"That is a big, big number. You have to think being in Russia in front of a Russian audience has definitely helped. She (Sotnikova) skated well, I don't know if she was eight points ahead of Carolina Kostner," three-time U.S. national champion Johnny Weir said on NBC.
Embedded owg_slideshow: The many faces of American figure skater Ashley Wagner
While the nine-member judging panel would be eager to point out that Kim only attempted six triple jumps compared to Sotnikova's seven, that did not explain why Kostner finished so far behind the Russian even though she too executed every one of her 11 jumps, including seven triples.
Fans were left scratching their heads wondering what exactly the judges saw, or rather did not see, as the Russian ended up with the top score despite a snatched landing following a double loop.
Sotnikova was the only one of the leading trio to make such an obvious mistake but that did not stop her from obliterating her own season's best for the free skate by more than 18 points.
"Any questions (about the scores) are for the judges, not for me. I did my job. I gave a gift to Russia," Sotnikova said, determined not to let anything ruin her moment in the spotlight.
Embedded video_content_type: Ladies free skate sparks another scoring debate
Entering the Games, Sotnikova was not even considered No. 1 in Russia. In fact, she had been hovering so far in the background that when it came to potential Olympic champions, her name was not even in the mix with Kim, Kostner or teammate Yulia Lipnitsaya, who finished fifth behind America Gracie Gold.
But she soared above her more illustrious rivals to leave the home crowd leaping and roaring with joy as she finally bulldozed the last figure skating barrier that had remained for Russia.
"I smashed my season's best. In fact, I smashed my highest score for my whole career and I did it at the Olympics. I didn't think I could skate like I did today," said Sotnikova, who had been pacing nervously backstage until her victory was confirmed since Kim was the last competitor to skate.
Within seconds of the results being announced, Twitter went into overdrive with people divided over who should have won while loyalties and past records of those on the judging panel were scrutinized.
Considering the sport's murky past, it is little wonder that people started to delve deep.
It has been over a decade since the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic judging scandal plunged the sport into a credibility crisis, from which it is still trying to recover.
The accumulative scoring system that was introduced post 2002 Olympics as a replacement for the 6.0 system, that was open to corruption and vote swapping, was supposed have made things more transparent.
But it is a scoring system that is harder to understand than the theory of relativity and to make matters worse, judges are able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity as no one knows which score was given by which official.
Did Kim think the judges got the score right on Thursday?
"I'm not in the right position to comment on it. And my words can change nothing," she said.
Wagner first expressed her outrage at Olympic scoring after her short program in the team event. An enthusiastic Wagner left the ice pleased with her performance, only to dramatically change expressions after her 63.10 score popped up. Her reaction also shocked lip readers.
"I'm the type of person where what you see is what you get," Wagner said. "Maybe I might be a pretty decent figure skater out on the ice, but in the kiss-and-cry, I still haven't mastered that figure skater attitude where you sit there and smile until the bitter end."
Additional reporting from the Associated Press.
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