Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Friday, December 16, 2005


Canadian World Pair Champion Paul Martini tells the Toronto Star that the reason for the decline in figure skating's television ratings is "Many people felt figure skating was fixed and they were proven right at Salt Lake City. Those people left the sport and I don't think they're ever coming back.... We have to make sure the casual fan who comes back because it is the Olympics will believe that the event is being judged fairly."

To be sure, the Pairs judging controversy in Salt Lake City (heartily encouraged by the U.S. and Canadian media - actions have consequences, guys) was not the first time a skating result had been called into question by the fans.

At the 1994 Nationals, more than one eyebrow was raised when the pair team of Karen Courtland and Todd Reynolds, in spite of three huge falls in their Long Program, were given an Olympic berth over Kuchiki and Marvel, who skated with no major errors.

The crowd booed their marks, and a letter to the March 1994 "American Skating World" accused, "This competition was not judged on what was put on the ice that day. This event was pre-judged, the Olympic team picked before anyone skated."

It was an old accusation, one that had been leveled against both the USFSA and the ISU plenty of times before.

In the past, compulsory figures were the great equalizer.

Remembers former Candid Productions VP Jirina Ribbens, "They could either push you or hold you back any which way they wanted (with figures). Certain people like Robin Cousins and Denise Biellmann were held back until they were ready for them, then, all of a sudden, they had good figures. It was like, a miracle! But, Gary Beacom, who had excellent figures, never got any marks for them. And Toller Cranston, too."

But the end of figures hardly led to an end in controversial decisions. Victor Petrenko over Paul Wylie in 1992 (though it was a 7/2 split). Oksana Baiul over Nancy Kerrigan, Grishuk and Platov over Torvill and Dean, and Alexei Urmanov over Elvis Stojko in 1994 (though even the Canadian judge went for Urmanov over their countryman). Tara Lipinski over Michelle Kwan in 1998. And, of course, the Pairs in Salt Lake City (even though four other judges, aside from the French one, also voted for the Russians, without being accused of a conspiracy.

What's interesting, though, is that no one ever complains of fixed judging when the questionable results come out in their favor.

It always makes me wonder, if the judges are right when you win, shouldn't they be right when you lose, too?


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