South Korea have demanded a review of the
controversial Olympic Games women’s figure skating competition which saw national heroine
Kim Yu-Na beaten to gold by Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova.Defending Olympic champion Kim was
relegated to the silver medal position by the Russian 17-year-old in Thursday’s free
skate despite putting in an error-free performance to be beaten by 5.48 points. It was a decision
which prompted accusations of judges being influenced by the passionate support of the
crowd to guarantee a victory for the host nation. Within hours, the website of the popular
online campaigning forum, Change.org, crashed and almost two million have now logged on
to sign a petition calling for a review of the judges’ scores. In a new twist, the South
Korean Skating Union has written to the International Skating Union (ISU) to review whether or not
the judging was accurate. “The South Korean team in Sochi has politely requested the Korean
Skating Union to ask ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta to review the women’s figure skating
singles (to see) if it followed the rules of ISU standards,” said a statement. Sotnikova’s
victory has polarised the sport with Russian coaches and officials vigorously defending
the teenager and dismissing allegations of a plot. One of the nine judges at Thursday’s
final was Ukrainian Yuri Balkov, who was suspended for a year for his involvement in a fixing
scandal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics ice dancing competition. Another judge, Alla Shekhovtseva,
is married to Russian federation general director Valentin Piseyev. But Shekhovtseva’s integrity
was backed by Eteri Tutberidze, the Russian women’s coach who handles Julia Lipnitskaia,
who was fifth in Thursday’s final. “She has been an international judge for many years
and there have never been any allegations,” said Tutberidze. “For me Adelina was the champion.
I have never seen her before as concentrated and focused. There were jumps, spins, spirals
and all those elements. Taken together Adelina is the winner.” Sotnikova’s choreographer
Pyotr Chernyshov said the teenager was a worthy champion. “We were following the rules that
the modern game was offering and we won this game,” said the former Russian-American ice
dancer. “You have to be an expert in figure skating to know the rules now. When you ask
a professional figure skater there is no doubt who won on the night. It’s very subjective.
“Not everyone has the same taste, somebody likes red, somebody likes blue… who’s right?
Somebody likes more athletics, some more balletic, some like Swan Lake … who’s right, who’s
wrong?” Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) said on Saturday that the Korean protest would not involve them. “From what I understand
the letter would not trigger an investigation,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.