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Nagano Olympics Skate Judging

This page was born because I was unhappy with the judging at the Nagano Olympics figure skating competitions. I wanted to provide everybody with the opportunity to communicate their feelings to the International Olympic Committee, the International Skating Union, national Olympic committees and national skating associations. I was particularly upset by the judging in the pairs and ice dance competitions where I felt the following judging injustices had taken place:

Broken Olympic Rings, Jeux Olympique, Olympißda, Olympiaden

Canada Robbed Again At Salt Lake City Olympics!

Despite recent rules changes in ice dance judging and more public scrutiny of skate judging in general, the pairs team judging at the Salt Lake City was as bad or worse than the judging in Nagano. The response to the judging was scathing in the United States. The response in Canada was nothing short of outraged indignation. Sale & Pelletier skated a superb clean performance of their beloved Love Story program and were awarded a Silver Medal. Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze were awarded a Gold Medal despite a double footed landing and a step out by Sikharulidze on the pair's side by side double axels. In news polls fully 95% of the American public believed that Sale & Pelletier won the competition. In Canada the percentage had to approach 100%.

MSNBC subsequently reported that there were suspicions of collusion between the French and Russian judges to trade favors in the pairs and ice dance competitions. When confronted the French judge admitted to having been pressured to vote in favor of the Russian pair by her own skating federation. After intense pressure was put on the ISU by the President of the International Olympic Committee, the ISU agreed to award a 2nd Gold medal to Sale & Pelletier.

The judging in ice dancing at the Olympics was also very poor with the top 13 teams receiving identical placements in all four phases of the competition. Both the Italian and Canadian teams had falls in their free dance programs, but managed to keep their positions ahead of the Lithuanian team of Dobriazko & Vanagas, who skated superbly. The Lithuanian Skating Federation protested the judging in the ice dance competition, but their protest was summarily dismissed by the ISU. I also felt very sorry for the American dance team of Lang & Tchernyshev, who got no respect from the judges at all.

The ISU has announced an internal investigation of the judging at the Olympics and a possible revamping of the judging system. The new judging and scoring system proposed by Cinquanta, the President of the ISU, appears to put even more emphasis on technical merit and less emphasis on artistry, which is not an improvement in judging in the opinions of many skating experts. The proposed changes involve having up to 14 judges at each event with a random draw of judges' scores actually being accepted. Country affiliations of the randomly chosen judges would not be announced. This also appears to be a change for the worse. At least now you know which judges to blame when bloc voting occurs. Hiding the identities of the culprits will not instill the public with faith in the integrity of the judges. Now is the time to submit your opinion to your skating federation and the ISU, if you disagree with any of the proposed judging changes.

It has been 12 years since the Berlin Wall came down and it's time for international figure skating judges to get beyond their bloc voting hammer and sickle mentality. Sale & Pelletier were gracious in their acceptance of the judging at the Olympics, but the damage being done to the sport of figure skating can not continue to be sustained when the public at large loses faith in the integrity of the judges.

World Skating Federation Formed
In Response To ISU Judging Controversies!

Dick Button announced the formation of the World Skating Federation to the general public during his coverage of the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships. The WSF has been formed as a new international skating organization with the purpose of becoming the new IOC-recognized international governing body for the sport of figure skating. The WSF is an athlete-centered organization. It has zero tolerance for misconduct; has accountability in judging; and is respectful of its members and dissenting opinions.

The new World Skating Federation has a comprehensive website which includes the federation's mission, organization, constitution, news releases, frequently asked questions, support and contribution pages and an online store. The list of the federation's Planning Committee is truly impressive including world reknowned coaches, former ISU officials, journalists, judges, referees and skaters such as Ron Pfenning, Sonia Bianchetti Garbato, Kathy Casey, Ted Clarke, Judit Furst-Tombor, Jane Garden, Jon Jackson, Lorrie Kim, Britta Lindgren, Sandra Loosemore, Donald McKnight, John Nicks, J. Misha Petkevich, Barbara and Howard Silby, Sally-Anne Stapleford and Paul Wylie. Supporting athletes include Brian Boitano, Kurt Browning, Dick Button, Frances Dafoe, Drobiazko and Vanagas, Todd Eldredge, Scott Hamilton, SalÚ and Pelletier, Katarina Witt and Kristi Yamaguchi.

We support the goals of the World Skating Federation and encourage visitors to our site to learn more about this new federation. With enough support from the skating community, the new World Skating Federation could become the new international governing body for the sport of figure skating.

The E-Mail Response

My original Nagano Olympics Skate Judging Protest Page brought me loads of e-mail, about 2/3 of which agreed with what I said. The other 1/3 of the e-mail was from people who wanted to reserve judgment or who felt that the judging at the Nagano Olympics had been fair. Others said that writing to the USFSA and the CFSA was not enough. They pointed out that a consensus needed to be established by a majority of the national skating organizations of the world and that I should have provided links to national skating associations in other countries.

A lot of people e-mailed me that the same kinds of problems exist at local and national competitions in every phase of the sport throughout the world. Others wrote saying that nothing would change, particularly in ice dance judging, unless the rules were changed to require mandatory deductions for slips and falls. The main thing I learned from the response was that skating fans have strong feelings on both sides of the fence about the state of judging at skating events throughout the world.

The Purpose of This Page

This page is intended to provide you with the opportunity to contact the major national and international skating organizations and Olympic committees to let them know what you think. These organizations need to hear from you, both pro and con, if they are to be held accountable for improving the conduct of local, national and Olympic skating competitions in the future. Please communicate your feelings to each of the organizations, as appropriate, regarding the fight for fair and impartial judging, to praise them for a job well done or to make suggestions that would improve the sport.

Take Action!

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Sites With Related Information

The Washington Post published an article on February 16, 1998 entitiled Critics of Ice Dancing Push for Judging Reforms. The article reviews proposed changes in ice dancing judging rules that were to be voted on by the ISU membership in Stockholm in 1998. The Wild Wild Web has an article entitled Let's Face The Music of Controversy that covers the history of ice dancing judging conflicts and has links to other sites that cover the ice dancing judging controversy. Hydroblade Girl's page entitled Explaining the Ice Dance Judging Controversy provides an in depth look at how block judging has worked against Bourne & Kraatz in past skating competitions as well as links to a good number of other sites that have covered the controversy.

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