In 2002 when the judges didn't award the gold medal
to the Canadian team of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier
the crowd in the Olympic Skating Arena turned ugly,
raining boos on the judges like they were NBA referees.
They knew injustice when they saw it.
They knew the Russian pair of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze —
the ones who got the gold medal —
had nearly stumbled on one jump and landed rough on a couple of others.
RUSSIA & CHINA SKATING CONSPIRACY
In 2006 China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao claimed silver
despite stopping for nearly four minutes for an injury break.
Zhang Dan recovered after crashing to the ice during an extravagant throw
and colliding with the rinkside boards.
The drama came four years after 'Skategate' in 2002
which caused the scoring system to be revamped.
ON EDGE: BACKROOM DEALING, COCKTAIL SCHEMING, TRIPLE AXELS,
AND HOW TOP SKATERS GET SCREWED
by Jon Jackson with James Pereira
The world caught a glimpse of figure-skating corruption
at the 2002 Winter Olympics when the French judge in the pairs-skating event
tearfully confessed she'd arranged to "give" her vote to the Russians.
Up until now, no no has dared expose the dirty secrets of figure skating
for fear of ending his or her career.
Jon Jackson has already ended his, and he is ready to talk.
excerpts from Prologue (click on book pages to enlarge for reading):
...the horror and injustice she had just witnessed in Salt Lake's Delta Center: the Olympic Pairs figure-skating judging debacle....The hack job those judges worked on the Canadians tonight....will set back judging for years.... (the imperfect Russian pair team had been awarded a gold medal over the Canadian pair team of David Pelletier and Jamie Sale who had skated perfectly that night)...Clearly the Canadians were the best tonight!...Still the Russians won....
The five judges who had gotten them wrong - Poland, Russia, Ukraine, China, and France...In walked the French judge, Marie-Reine LaGougne....Sally Stapleford, the British International Skating Union - ISU - technical committee member, shot her a look of disgust, a look that made it clear that she suspected Madame Marie was guilty of more than simply poor judgement.... "I had to do this! Gold for gold! This was for my dance team! You dont' understand the pressure! In an hysterical fit, she deleriously repeated these rants, singing like a canary turning state's evidence.... I could both see and hear all of Marie-Reine's admissions unfolding.... "You must help us" she screamed. "I had no choice" and then, le plus important, "It was a deal with the Russians!"
2002 Olympic pair-figure skating analysis, Scott Hamilton, former Olympian, YouTube (...The wrong team won - Eleni & Anton made 4 big mistakes, one real big one...It just wasn't their night... David & Jamie came out and they skated beautifully....The silver medal is theirs, really they should have won the gold...)
2006 Olympic pair-figure Skating Chinese, YouTube (...That's a nasty fall, horrible fall, oh no, oh no, what a thing to happen...oh, that is so upsetting, and they won't be able to continue...You could see the landing ...three-and-a-half turns, just catching the inside of the knee...horrible thing to happen ...that is your worst nightmare on the ice...I think she's in shock...They're not seriously thinking of continuing surely...They're made of strong stuff these Chinese...It was the knee, it looked like the groin...She almost split in two...You think what they had to beat to get a medal - even at 100% it would be tough...She was late getting in the air; she knew it wasn't going to work...It really was nasty...Hear the gasp of the 8-1/2 thousand here...)
Book "Cracked Ice" excerpt (... It may be a coincidence, but all those who were somehow involved with the disclosure of the exchange of favors between the French and the Russians in Salt Lake City lost their positions in the ISU. Sally-Anne Stapleford of Great Britain, chairperson of the Figure Skating Technical Committee for 10 years, lost re-election by two votes. She was replaced by Alexander Lakernik of Russia. As is well known, after the pair event in Salt Lake City, Marie Reine Le Gougne confessed, in tears, to Sally in the lobby of the official hotel, that she had been pressured to place the Russian pair first by Didier Gailhaguet, the president of her federation. Witnesses of this confession were Britta Lindgren and Walburga Grimm, both members of the Technical Committee, and the American judge, Jon Jackson....When, at the end of July 2002, a Russian mobster, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, was arrested in Italy and charged with bankrolling the Olympic vote swap, Sally Stapleford, the key witness in the scandal, declared in an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper that she hoped nobody was going to turn a blind eye or bend to fear and that she felt completely vindicated by what had come out. All what was alleged all along, that there was a deal with the Russians, appeared more substantiated. For these declarations she received two intimidating letters from Fredi Schmid, the ISU general secretary, her assignment to run a judges’ seminar in October 2002 was cancelled without giving her any reason, and she was not given any assignment that season to serve as referee. For the same kind of declarations, Jon Jackson, who was at that time the chairman of the USFSA International Committee, was sent an intimidating letter with a request for an explanation. Meanwhile, the Russian judge Sviatoslav Babenko, suspended for cheating in 1999, was appointed by Cinquanta as a referee to a Grand Prix event in 2002....)
Olympic skating coach scandal Russian tycoon
by Chris Stephen in Moscow, Aug 6, 2002
Moscow has reacted with fury to the arrest by Italian police of a Russian tycoon accused of fixing ice skating events at the Salt Lake City winter Olympics. This case is just another political farce," said the singer Iosif Kabzon, known in Moscow as Russia’s Frank Sinatra, and now a member of the Russian duma, or parliament. Mr Kabzon is leading calls for the tycoon, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, to be released, and blamed the arrest on a sinister conspiracy led by Washington: "Americans are trying to smear us once again to show the entire world that Russia is nothing." The four skaters implicated in the scandal yesterday denied the results had been fixed.
The French ice dance champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat and the Russian pairs champions, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, held a news conference in the French city of Arles to defend themselves against allegations that there had been a vote-swapping deal to assure France victory in the ice dance in return for gold for Russia in the pairs. The pairs judging caused a furore that engulfed the games in February after the Russians, despite a flawed performance, were awarded gold ahead of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada. As a result of the outcry, the Canadians were then also given gold. The French judge at Salt Lake City, Marie-Reine Le Gougne, was banned for three years after she had been pressured to vote for the Russians, but later recanted.
Mr Sikharulidze and Ms Berezhnaya have threatened to sue US television networks after their photographs were used in reports on Russian organised crime and Olympic fixing. Russia’s Olympic committee spokesman, Gennady Shvets, backed his skaters, saying he expected them to win millions of roubles in lawsuits. "These events resemble the theatre of the absurd," he said. Yesterday’s press conference was held after American television programmes on the scandal prompted by a criminal complaint by US authorities alleging that Mr Tokhtakhounov had arranged the voting deal in order to get a visa to got to France. The complaint was based on wiretap recordings made by Italian police who were keeping the tycoon under surveillance. The FBI and Italian police have suspected him of drug-dealing, money-laundering and racketeering, as well as selling former Soviet weapons to the Middle East. Italian police arrested him at a resort near Venice and are holding him in the city. Copies of the wiretap recordings have been sent to the FBI. Transcripts of the tapes released by Italian police suggested that Mr Tokhtakhounov might have contacted up to six judges at the skating events. Police also released transcripts of telephone conversations between Mr Tokhtakhounov and a female ice dancer’s mother. Another transcript documented a conversation after the Olympics in which the unidentified female ice dancer telephoned Mr Tokhtakhounov and said she could have won without his help. Ms Anissina, a Russian-born French citizen, yesterday admitted that she knew Mr Tokhtakhounov. She said she had met him at a reception in 1999 and had kept in occasional contact. However, she insisted: "During the Olympics, I never telephoned him. I am sure that that is not my voice [on the wiretap]. I don’t know who my mother called, but I am sure that she didn’t do that either. "This affair is ridiculous," she said. "I’m sure this has all been cooked up."
The French skating federation head, Didier Gailhaguet, who also received a three-year ban over the affair, said the fact that the Russian judge in the ice dancing competition had voted against the French couple proved that there had been no quid pro quo involved. "There is no Franco-Russian axis, as some imbeciles say or write," he said. Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Not Guilty", Mr Peizerat said he had not heard of Mr Tokhtakhounov until three days ago and doubted he and Ms Anissina would be stripped of their medals. "They will never be able to take away from us a medal we won with all our heart and soul," he said.
The case has cast the spotlight on what has become Russia’s most infamous export - the super-rich tycoons, known as the "oligarchs" because of their massive power. These men amassed huge wealth through dubious means during the 1990s, when the communist system collapsed and privatisation deals saw state assets such as oil and gas fields change hands for pennies - then get sold on for billions. Certainly Mr Tokhtakhounov plays the part of the flamboyant tycoon with gusto. Known as Little Taiwanese because of his oriental looks, he courts sports and entertainment stars as close friends and is happy to be seen with them, dressed in chic black, in fashionable nightclubs. Like most tycoons he spends a lot of time abroad, in his case in France where, in 1999, he was made a knight of the order of Saint Constantine The Great, as reward for his support of the arts. The arrest of Mr Tokhtakhounov comes a year after another tycoon, Pavel Borodin, was fined by a Swiss court for laundering £20 million in kickbacks paid by a Swiss company after he commissioned it to restore the Kremlin. Borodin was arrested in America en route to George Bush’s inauguration and this year was fined £120,000 after being found guilty. Borodin insists he was innocent and, perhaps to reward his virtue, a friendly Swiss businessman has agreed to pay his fine.
All of this was supposed to be very different. President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, roared to power two years ago promising to go to war with the oligarchs. He made a promising start, banishing the biggest tycoon of them all, the multi-billionare Boris Berezovsky, who fled the country rather than face criminal investigations into how he got rich. Last year, Mr Putin turned on the tycoons who managed, or mismanaged, Gazprom, Russia’s largest company and the world’s biggest gas firm, sacking top executives and replacing them with government officials. But the super-rich continue to command. One group of oligarchs has even formed a trades union, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, dubbed the "Oligarchs Union" by Muscovites.
There is official silence about what may be the greatest vanishing act: the disappearance into private hands of great chunks of state assets during the 1990s, a move that created billionares, but saw the average Russian grow poorer than under communism. However, despite support from the KGB for a crackdown on corruption, Mr Putin seems to have decided, as have most Russians, simply to call it a day and leave the tycoons in possession of their billions. "The patient Russian narod [person]," said an editorial in the Moscow Times, "is probably willing to let bygones be bygones and look ahead rather than back."
Stapleford's case puts skate scandal on the agenda
by Mihir Bose, Telegraph, Feb 16, 2006
Two days after the end of these Games the British woman official who triggered one of the greatest Winter Olympic scandals will try to end the suspension imposed on her by the International Skating Union. Four years ago in the Salt Lake City Games the chairman of the figure skating technical committee, Sally Stapleford, exposed judging manipulation in figure skating. Since then the Londoner has become such a pariah that last week she was even shunned in Britain, asked to step down as president of the National Ice Skating Association.
It is now the turn of the French skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who confessed to Stapleford that she had been unduly influenced in favour of the Russians. She was banned for three years by the ISU, but she now says: "We are free because we have no more Sally Staplefords. It was like a dictatorship." Stapleford is pilloried in the New York Times as the "puppeteer of judges". The Italian skating president Ottavio Cinquanta dismisses Stapleford, a colleague for 20 years, as a nobody.
This extraordinary story began on the night of the pairs event in Salt Lake City when Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharlidze won gold, beating the Canadian pair of Jamie Sale and David Pelleteier. A hour later Stapleford was standing in the lobby of the ISU hotel when Le Gougne, whose vote had swung it 5-4 in favour of the Russians, walked by. Stapleford recalled: "She went to the elevator, pressed the button and then looked at me and said, 'I was wrong, I was wrong. The Canadians were better. It was a deal done with the Russians. It was all connected to the ice dance event. Ice dance is running our sport. I was told to vote by our president Didier Gailhaguet to help the French win the ice dance. Help me, Sally. You have got to help me, Sally.'"
Stapleford got her to retell the confession to two other members of her technical committee, and that night she wrote to Cinquanta. For two days the scandal threatened to destroy the Games, with the North American media picturing the Canadians as the love story pair who had been wronged by French and Russian skulduggery. A duplicate gold medal was awarded, and ISU banned Le Gougne and Gailhaguet for three years. Six months later when the ISU congress met in Kyoto, a Russian on Stapleford's technical committee unexpectedly stood against her for the chairmanship and beat her by one vote.
Cinquanta used the congress to introduce new rules. For him the scandal reflected on the failure of the Stapleford regime towards "innovation". His new system meant the computer randomly selected scores of nine of the 12 judges, so that the judges remained anonymous. The old row of perfect sixes has been replaced by scores such as 204.48, as awarded to the winners of this year's pairs. Stapleford countered: "You need transparency in the judging system. You have to know how every judge has scored. If you had a non-transparent system, Marie Le Gougne would never have been exposed." The National Ice Skating Association opposed the ISU rule changes and lost. Then after Stapleford and others announced the setting-up of a World Skating Federation - which failed through lack of funds - the ISU retaliated with suspensions. Stapleford remains an outcast.
Smooth sailing - Where's the passion, scandals?
by Lee Benson, Deseret News, Feb 13, 2006
Torino, Italy - Winter Olympics, Day 4, and there is an unsettling feeling that nothing is unsettling. This is Italy, after all, the land of arm waving and hand flailing, the place where people give you an offer you can't refuse, the home of Da Vinci. Arguing is a national sport. The slogan for the Torino Olympics is, "Passion Lives Here." And on the fourth day, still, nothing. No controversies. No tantrums. No conspiracy theories. Not a single judging scandal. There hasn't even been a cloud in the sky. Four years ago in Salt Lake City — even though, given the commotion over how we won the Games, we would have paid good money to avoid any more of it — we had plenty of controversy....
When the judges didn't award the gold medal to the Canadian team of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, the crowd in the Olympic Skating Arena/Delta Center turned ugly, raining boos on the judges like they were NBA referees. This wasn't necessarily the world's most sophisticated figure-skating crowd. The arena was full of people from West Jordan and Orem and Holladay who didn't know a toe loop from a tow truck. But they knew injustice when they saw it. They knew the Russian pair of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze — the ones who got the gold medal — had nearly stumbled on one jump and landed rough on a couple of others. Maybe Elena and Anton were two-time world champions, and maybe Russia had won every Olympics pairs title since 1964, but on this night they weren't better than Jamie and David. In figure skating, it's usually the performers who end up whining; in Salt Lake City, it was the spectators.
It turned out that they knew what they were screaming about. In the investigation that followed, French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne, while stopping short of incriminating herself, admitted that she had been "pressured" into voting for the Russians in exchange for a Russian vote later in the Olympics for the French ice dancing team. To calm things down, the International Olympic Committee agreed to award a gold medal to Sale and Pelletier, too. By sharp contrast, the finals in pairs skating was held last night here in Torino, and it was like watching opera. The Russian team of Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, fourth-place finishers four years ago, came in with a sizeable lead from the short program and comfortably claimed the gold. No jeering. No booing. No one cried for anyone's blood.
Under the new scoring system initiated as a result of the Salt Lake scandal, no one would have known what judges to scream at anyway. The plan doesn't make public a judge's nationality and doesn't even make it clear who did the judging. A computer randomly picks nine scorecards delivered from a panel of 12 judges. Gone are the good old days when you could always blame it on the judge from Romania. This doesn't mean there aren't still judges making back-room deals. "A system that protects the judges kind of makes me laugh," none other than David Pelletier recently told the Houston Chronicle. "It should be a system that protects the skaters." Pelletier is at the Torino Games as a reporter for NBC. Sale is here, too, doing similar duty and staying in the same hotel room as Pelletier. But that's not a scandal because the Canadian sweethearts were married a month ago.
Sale and Pelletier turned professional after the Salt Lake Games, which explains why they aren't skating in the Olympics any more. Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze also turned pro. Both gold-medal teams now have their own promotional Web sites and are part of the Smucker's Stars on Ice tour, meaning the pairs are still paired together. Wonder what they talk about over dinner? So far, the only compelling story involving figure skating in Torino concerns who isn't in the competition. Sentimental favorite Michelle Kwan left the Olympics Sunday after a groin pull. The five-time world champion was in tears when she departed Italy, but unlike Nancy Kerrigan, she wasn't blaming anyone for her injury but herself. Ironically, Kwan's Olympic travails began in 1994 when she would have been on the U.S. team in Lillehammer if Tonya Harding — the woman who hired a hit man to whack Kerrigan's knee (now there was a controversy) — had been forced to withdraw. But the case against Harding wouldn't be made until much later, leaving the 13-year-old Kwan in Norway with nothing to do but watch Harding finish eighth. En route to becoming figure skating's version of Karl Malone, Kwan went on to lose the gold medal to 15-year-old Tara Lipinski in 1998 and to 16-year-old Sarah Hughes in 2002.
Given her star-crossed history and the appearance here of Sasha Cohen, maybe the groin pull was a blessing. It certainly hasn't been easy for Olympic veterans so far in 2006, even if they don't have a groin pull. Already, several stars of the Salt Lake Games, including Apolo Anton Ohno, Kelly Clark, Casey FitzRandolph and Bode Miller, have found it tough finding the old magic four years later. Ohno stumbled in the semifinal heat in 1,500-meter short track speedskating, failing to defend the gold medal he won in Salt Lake City. Instead, with Ohno not even racing in the final, the gold went to Ahn Hyun-Soo of South Korea. The outcome was a reversal of sorts from 2002, when South Korean Kim Dong-Sung crossed the finish line in the 1,500 ahead of Ohno but was disqualified for obstructing Ohno on the final turn. In South Korea, protesters spilled into the streets, and in Salt Lake City thousands of angry e-mails and phone calls were made to Olympic officials by angry South Korean fans. Sunday night, Ohno stumbled in the semifinals after brushing against the hip of race leader Li Ye of China. "I got too far forward with my skates. I lost a lot of speed and almost went down," Ohno explained. That was it. No excuses. No protests. No thousands of angry letters from South Korea. It's Italy, and no one's getting mad. If this keeps up, what are we going to write about?
Russians triumph in skating drama
China's Zhang Dan won silver despite a crashing fall
BBC, Feb 13, 2006
Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin sealed Russia's 12th straight Winter Olympics pairs title as fresh controversy hit figure skating. China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao claimed silver despite stopping for nearly four minutes for an injury break. Zhang Dan recovered after crashing to the ice during an extravagant throw and colliding with the rinkside boards. The drama came four years after 'Skategate' in 2002 which caused the scoring system to be revamped.
Zhang Dan fell as the pair attempted a rare quadruple Salchow, and injured her knee. She struggled to her feet, and after consulting officials, continued their routine to wild applause. Two-time world champions Totmianina and Marinin took gold with a combined total score of 204.48. Compatriots Shen Xue and Hongbo Zhao won their second straight bronze medal. They were the first Olympic figure skating medals to be awarded under a complicated new scoring system, introduced after a judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Games.
Britain's 1980 figure skating gold medallist Robin Cousins said there appeared to be confusion over whether a break of longer than two minutes was allowed. "The Chinese pair only missed one element, and that's why they had a point deducted, but what needs to be looked at is the loophole regarding stoppage time during the performance," he told BBC Sport. But the International Skating Union (ISU) said it was satisfied with the outcome. Its rule 351 states: "If (immediate continuation from the point of interruption) is not possible, a period of up to two minutes before the continuation is allowed. "The two minutes time period commences immediately after the referee's decision is announced to the competitor." And ISU spokesman Devra Pitt-Getaz said: "A period of no longer than two minutes was used."
Zhang and Zhang had been expected to challenge for the gold but their routine went horribly wrong just moments into their performance. Going out last, Zhang Dan was left sprawled on the ice after she fell on their opening jump. After returning to finish the programme, their display earned them a combined total of 189.73 and a standing ovation from the crowd at the Palavela rink. "We didn't say any words of giving up. We said we could go on," said Zhang Hao. His partner Zhang Dan received her marks with a huge bandage on her thigh and an ice pack on her knee. "I think it's a very valuable experience for competition," she said. "It's so important for myself because I made a mistake on the first element, but I think I can do all the other elements, so why not keep going?"
The Russian winners had recovered from injury and illness to triumph in their last competition together. Heading into the free skate with a lead of 3.92 points from Saturday's short programme, Totmianina and Marinin put in a flawless display to the music of Romeo and Juliet. "It was perfect skating to end a perfect career. I can't explain the emotions I feel right now," said a tearful Totmianina. Marinin added: "It was a great performance. We could feel it." The Russians appeared less than impressed by the Chinese silver medallists. Totmianina said of the Zhangs' fall: "I felt nothing special. They were kind of aggressive in the warm-ups and they didn't let us warm up properly. They were already fighting." Shen and Zhao took bronze with a score of 186.91.
Chinese skaters' fall had a silver lining
by Gwen Knapp, SanFranGate, Feb 14, 2006
One of the most extraordinary moments of the 2006 Winter Olympics began when Zhang Dan, a delicate 20-year-old from China, slammed violently onto the ice Monday night and then skidded helplessly into the sideboards. She and her partner, Zhang Hao, were trying to become the first pairs skaters ever to complete a successful quadruple throw salchow, but they made another sort of history when she fell to her knees, the left one striking the ice like a hammer. The crowd watched her slowly regain her footing, then limp on her skates, occasionally hunching over in pain, and finally skate toward the judge's box, where a referee would determine whether the pair could resume their 41/2-minute long program. To test her knee, Zhang Hao guided his partner gently, skating backward so that he could face her and bending his knees awkwardly to speak at face level, like an instructor at a child's beginner lesson. "I thought this is the end,'' Zhang Dan would say later.
But four minutes after the accident, the two transformed themselves back into silver-medal contenders. Allowed to restart their program where they had left off, they completed every element without a major flaw -- including another throw, this one followed by a triple loop. The audience, heavily loaded with flag-waving Russians, gave the pair a raucous standing ovation, and the judges gave them the silver medal. "We clearly suffered for it", Zhang Hao said through a translator. "I am proud of her for being so brave and finishing the program".
The gold went, almost predictably, to the Russian pair of Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, who kept their country's streak of Olympic pairs titles alive at 12. They had endured their own medical crisis 15 months ago, when Marinin dropped Totmianina out of a lift and she landed directly onto her face. When they finished their elegant long program, he pumped both fists like Tiger Woods after a birdie putt and then kneeled and kissed his partner's hands. "That was a sign of appreciation to her,'' he said, because of "all the troubles we had last year".
Unlike the pairs competition in Salt Lake City, which produced a judging scandal that led to an entirely new scoring system, Monday's performance left no doubt that the right couple won. No other couple could match Marinin and Totmianina's fluid rhythm and creative lifts. They didn't attempt anything as ambitious as the Chinese pair's quadruple throw, but the momentum and timing of their triple salchow throw allowed Totmianina to follow up with a long curving glide backward, the perfect flourish. Their total segment score was 135.84, beating the Zhangs (125.01) and China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo (124.59) by a comfortable margin. When Marinin and Totmianina's music, from the 1968 film "Romeo and Juliet", ended, Russian partisans chanted their country's name, bringing a soccer-style atmosphere to the arena. Cries of "Roo-see-ah, Roo-see-ah" united all sorts of fans, from big-bellied men in hockey jerseys to young girls with ponytails.
Zhang and Zhang, who are not related, skated last, and the knowledgeable crowd seemed to know that they planned a quadruple throw. The Chinese fans, about half the size of the Russian contingent, brought out their own flags and cheered wildly when the pair entered the rink. They were 38 seconds into the program when the disastrous throw happened. What happened next was an antidote to the ill will from Salt Lake City. The pairs competition there ended in jeers and boos after the Canadian pair received lower-than-expected scores, suggesting a fix on behalf of the Russian stars. On Monday night, when Zhang righted herself, the Russian fans immediately stood to salute her and the pair's bold attempt to make history. They stood again when she and her partner finished, and no one objected audibly when the judges all but ignored the long interruption and the fall, giving the pair the best scores of their career and the silver medal.
According to the International Skating Union, the delay fell within regulations. A referee must review the circumstances of any halted program and decide whether to allow a continuation. Once the referee makes the call, the skaters have two minutes to tend to any injuries and then resume skating. Fourth place also went to a Chinese pair, and the success of the Zhangs, who are just 20 and 21 years old, suggests that the Russian dynasty could be in peril. American pair John Baldwin and Rena Inoue attempted a repeat of their radical throw with a triple axel, which they had landed in the short program Saturday night. She landed early and fell forward, touching the ice. Baldwin said he didn't give her enough momentum to complete the move. The pair, in sixth after the short program, slipped to seventh place.
Chinese pair steals Russia's thunder
National Post, Feb 14, 2006
Turin - The Olympic pairs event is prime territory for juicy conspiracy theories and this one has the Russians done like dinner. As if the never-ending supply of fabulous figure-skating couples is running drier than a shot of vodka in the dead of a Moscow summer afternoon. Although yesterday's win by Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin gives the Russians pairs gold in 12 straight Olympics, this might well be the changing of the skate guard. But the champs, who were picture-perfect at the Palavela in their final amateur competition, refuse to believe it. "I'm very glad that we are part of the history right now but I don't think that we are the last one," countered Totmianina. "We have so many young pairs now in Russia. They just should work a little bit harder."
The golden couple are bypassing the world championships in Calgary next month, with plans to go pro as Champions on Ice. By leaving on their terms, they essentially surrender the podium to the Chinese pairs who finished with silver, bronze and a fourth-place finish. "Three Chinese [pairs] on the podium in Calgary now," predicted television commentator and former ice dancer Gwendal Piezerat. "It's a new era." Revolution doesn't come without pain and sacrifice and the pair of Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao certainly endured their share for a silver medal. Totmianina and Marinin had just skated to thunderous applause and marks that would surely keep them in first place when the Zhangs (who are not related) hit the ice. Literally. Thirty seconds into their program they tried an impossibly difficult throw, a quad Salchow, with disastrous and shocking results....
At the post-competition news conference Totmianina was asked by a Chinese reporter if she would have continued in the same circumstance. It was essentially a challenge. "I already had such a bad accident," she said. "I wasn't able to finish the program because I was unconscious, you know. It's kind of difficult." She fell on her head during a lift gone bad two years ago in Pittsburgh. She was concussed and bruised and Marinin took ages to shake off the psychological effects of dropping his partner. But they came back, they got their gold and now they are done. "We got what we wanted," she said. "The last one, the big one, the biggest one. We are just a little bit tired." If the world is tired of seeing Russians on the top of the podium, the next few years could be a welcome respite. The other two Russian pairs in this competition finished fifth and eighth, well behind the bronze medallists, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.
Meanwhile, the Canadian pairs flip-flopped their standings as Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison jumped into 10th ahead of three-time national champs Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin in 11th. "I'm assuming their performance was good because they beat us. As long as Canada is doing well, I'm happy," said Buntin. "I have nothing bad to say about those two. They're good kids."
Pelletier, Sale agree figure skating's scoring system doesn't address cheating
by David Barron, Houston Chronicle, Feb 12, 2006
Turin, Italy - What can you say about a couple of kids from Canada who skated at the 2002 Winter Olympics? That she was beautiful. That he was handsome. That they won a silver medal and then shared a gold medal. That they left competitive skating and went on tour. That they got married. And that now they're on TV. So now you're up to date on Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, with slight apologies to Erich Segal, whose novel Love Story inspired the Francis Lai soundtrack music that formed the backdrop to Sale and Pelletier's historic performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The performance in the figure-skating pairs competition wasn't historic only because it was good but because of the surrounding judicial chicanery that rocked the Salt Lake City Games and forced the International Skating Union to revamp its scoring system. People are still talking about it, including Sale and Pelletier. In fact, they're being paid to do so at the Turin Olympics on USA Network's nightly Olympic Ice skating show.
Even during their competitive days, Sale and Pelletier were a kick on the interview podium. Part of her charm was her down-to-earth, no-nonsense frankness, and part of his was the fact he could crack up listeners at any moment with a French-accented witticism. "I have no idea what I am getting myself into (on television)," Pelletier said recently. "People say, 'Be natural. Be yourself.' I could be naturally bad." That's unlikely, since they're being paid to gossip, analyze and generally shoot from the lip, as in their tart treatment of the alleged reforms put in place by the International Skating Union since the Salt Lake scandal. Those changes include a new scoring system that eliminates the 6.0 formula but also gives judges anonymity for their scores. "We like some things about the system, even though it has downfalls as well," Sale said. "We like that skaters are being challenged to do more than just throws and jumps. Before, you had to pay your dues for years before you could do well. Now, if you have the whole package and good footwork and good spins and style, they have no choice but to mark you for it."
Neither believes the new system eliminates the possibility of cheating judges such as Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who said she voted for Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze over Sale and Pelletier four years ago in return for a Russian judge's vote in favor of the French ice dancing team. "Corruption in skating has been there for 100 years, and it still will be there. We just won't know about it," Pelletier said. "A system that protects the judges kind of makes me laugh. It should be a system that protects the skaters. Right now we don't know what's happening behind the score that we see on the board, and that's kind of a scary thing." Added Sale: "There still is no credibility with the leadership of the ISU. The people who were part of the corruption are still around, and the people who tried to get rid of them are gone. The good people were let go or fired, and the message was: 'Don't tell on us.'"
Among the people who paid for their candor were Sally Stapleford, the British former chairman of the ISU technical committee, who helped blow the whistle on Le Gougne; Ron Pfenning, who was head judge of the pairs panel in Salt Lake; and Jon Jackson, former chairman of the international committee for the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Pfenning and Jackson were part of a group called the World Skating Federation, which unsuccessfully sought a court order that would have unseated the ISU as the sport's governing body. Jackson has written a book — On Edge: Backroom Dealing, Cocktail Scheming, Triple Axels, and How Top Skaters Got Screwed.
Sale and Pelletier endured the disappointment of losing the gold medal they thought they had won with their program to Lai's Love Story theme. The music was simple, and so were the costumes; Pelletier's shirt and vest, in fact, came from Banana Republic. They received a gold medal after Le Gougne confessed wrongdoing. Since leaving ISU-sanctioned skating, they've toured for four years as part of the Stars on Ice tour. They were married last December and live in Edmonton. But for the next two weeks, their hangout will be a makeshift stage on rink level at the Palavela, Turin's ice skating venue, and their job will be to praise when warranted, criticize when required and always talk about what they like and what they don't. "They want us to be ourselves and talk about what we see," Sale said. "We have no problem with that."
watch AS THE STORY GOES, 2010 song by NHL hockey player Theory Fleury skating with Olympic skating champion Jamie Sale who stood up against the Russians for cheating at 2002 Olympics, YouTube
A short history of Olympic cheating, CBC, Feb 11, 2010 (Finding a way to win can tempt an athlete to test the boundaries of fair play, as the difference between fortune and failure is measured in fractions of a second. Whether it's a deliberate shot in the arm or an innocent cold pill, bending or breaking the rules of competition has been around as long as sport itself. In some instances, like freestyle skiing or curling, where pure skill far outweighs lung power, cheating isn't considered a big factor. However in endurance sports like speed skating, cross-country skiing and biathlon, there's a worrying history of skullduggery through drug use — a trend that has given rise to squads of medical experts collecting blood samples and statistical analysis of spikes in the oxygen content of red blood cells....)
LENIN-MAO MOCK CANADA OLYMPICS
Games visitors comment on Lenin/Mao statue (seems strange to see it in Canada) & LENIN'S HEAD on YouTube by sculptors (with Lenin's voice in background). Canada.com, Feb 27, 2010
MEDAL SLUMP PANICS RUSSIANS
Russia whines about cowardly Canada, Toronto Star, Feb 25, 2010
Russia's hockey empire crumbles in front of the world, YahooSports, Feb 24, 2010
Was Plushenko robbed? Enough already (Russian skater, who landed only two of three planned jumps, is sounding like a child), Canwest News Service, Feb 20, 2010
Russian skater deserved his silver (didn't deserve gold). CanWestNews, Feb 20, 2010
Vladimir Putin weighs into figure skating debate, Telegraph, Feb 19, 2010 (Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has added his voice to furious backlash in Russia after Yevgeny Plushenko failed to defend his men's figure skating Olympic title with fingers now being pointed at the judging system in Vancouver. Putin lent his support to the Russian athlete, who was second on the podium to America's Evan Lysacek, by saying his silver medal finish "was worth a gold medal."
Starting another cold war through ice-skating, You Tube (shows Plushenko driving car past statue of Lenin in St Petersburg)
Gawker, Feb 17, 2010)
During NBC's coverage of men's figure skating, the network ran a package about Russian favorite/destroyer of worlds Evgeni Plushenko. Plushenko (and Russia) were painted as a bleak, yet brooding force with haunting music and low-angle shots of the Kremlin. Why? Is NBC trying to romanticize figure skating by telling us it's Rocky IV on ice? We're all for building up hype around an event to grab the attention of the casual viewer, but is Evgeni Plushenko really evil? The gigantic, unstoppable Russian heads west to rock the very foundation of Capitalism using a triple axel, double toe loop combination? And what will America serve up to defend itself from this unstoppable force? Johnny Weir — the immovable (and fabulous) object—of course. The Russians, with their hooked noses, bowl-cut mullets and sheer power are no match for fox fur, lace, sequins and showmanship. If Plushenko performs as well in the free skate tonight as he did in the short program last night, America could be in some serious trouble. Either that, or we applaud him for winning two consecutive gold medals. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, right?
Vancouver: Mutton Dressed as Lamb, Pravda.russia, Feb 19, 2010 (... We all know Canada has problems with the future lines drawn on Arctic maps and we all know Canada lives in the shadow of its larger neighbour to the south. The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this county to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps. Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so…retentive, or cowardly...)
RUSSIA IN CANADA'S SCIENCE WORLD
Russian Pavilion in Canada's Science World (front-row seat to observe & take notes). Examiner, Feb 2010
Stalin statues going up again in Russia (the fruit of creeping re-Stalinization) & Stalin's revival in Russia (rehabilitating homicidal maniac) & Trotsky the firebrand (zeal for collectivizataion & terror; along with Lenin he created system Stalin used). NationalPost, Jan 20, 2010. Go to TROTSKY REVELLED IN SOVIET EVIL
CANADA COMMIE LENIN-MAO STATUE
Lenin-Mao sculpture divides Canadian residents (4000-kilo/9000-lb chrome bust by Chinese artists) & MPs say give KGB agent freedom in Canada (gov't order deport; threatens national security). NationalPost/VanSun, Jan 20, 2010. Go to Systems & Big Brother Brotherhood & 2.Big Brother Is Watching You
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