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South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver

Mar 21, 2014, 8:39 AM EDT

Sochi Olympics Figure Skating AP

South Korean skating and Olympic officials are calling on the International Skating Union (ISU) to investigate controversial judging at the Sochi Olympics that awarded Russian Adelina Sotnikova a gold medal over Yuna Kim.

“Together with the Korea Skating Union (KSU), we have decided to file an official complaint [to the ISU] over the controversial ruling and will demand the body look into the makeup of the judging panel and whether a fair judgment was possible,” a Korea Olympic Committee (KOC) official said Friday, according to the Korea Times.

The KOC called the women’s figure skating results in Sochi “unreasonable” and “unfair,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported the complaint is unlikely to change results given it’s coming more than a month after the competition.

The KSU and KOC hope an investigation will prevent not only a similar judging dispute from occurring again but also potential bias against future South Korean skaters, according to reports.

An official with the KOC said it will send a joint letter with the KSU to the ISU after obtaining Kim’s consent. The official said the two South Korean bodies will demand a thorough investigation into the makeup of the judging panel in Sochi and also ask the ISU take extensive reform measures to prevent a recurrence of such judging disputes.

The 2010 Olympic champion Kim, 23, led by .28 of a point after the short program Feb. 19. Sotnikova, 17, outscored Kim by 5.76 points in the free skate the following night to win gold by a comfortable margin.

Both skated clean programs, and Sotnikova had one more triple jump. Of course, that’s not all that goes into scores, and many journalists, fans and skaters questioned the judging.

Kim has said she’s put the situation behind her, retiring and preparing for special ice shows in Seoul in May.

First tweets from Olympians

  1. fdsa7410 - Mar 21, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    If there was no fixing, how could Sotnikova with flaw win to Yuna without a flaw? impossible

    • themainfan - Mar 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Sotnikova had Higher base value and a much better performance overall.

      • psummers890613 - Mar 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Higher base value doesn’t mean you necessarily end up with higher score – my god!! If you execute a more difficult program poorly, then you won’t be awarded positive GOEs, let alone full base value. Adelina made more visible technical mistakes like flutz and under rotation on her 3-3, which weren’t called for. Also Adelina didn’t satisfy all the necessary requirements for level 4 step sequence. But she got level 4. And better performance overall? Italian commentators put it the best – Only Yuna could have done (interpreted) Tango – If Adelina were to do it, she wouldn’t have been able to finish her program. Who has better sync with music, and better interpretation?

      • gymtruthteller - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        No she didn’t and she cheated her jumps and the judge didn’t even look at it.

      • winky97 - Mar 22, 2014 at 5:56 PM

        Nope! First, remember that there were two programs. Sotnikova performed the easiest 3 3 combination jump in the SP of all the top ladies. Sotnikova’s scores after the SP should not have been anywhere near Kim or Kostner. Also, Sotnikova is nowhere in the neighbor of Kim or Kostner components wise. Yet those scores were closely bunched together. Lastly, Sotnikova’s LP was flawed. She two footed a landing and flutzed her lutz jump. With the flaws listed above Sotnikove came darn close to a world record score. Really? Her scores were inflated. Sotnikova should have a bronze medal, not gold.

      • beebealtlesp - Mar 22, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        People who are new to figure skating and don’t know much about how scoring works think that Yuna had an easier program and Sotnikova was more technical – and that’s why Sotnikova won. This argument is coming only by looking at the base value scores. Yes, Yuna had a lower base value score for the free skate but she had a higher base value score in short program.
        and in total, their SP + LP base value scores differ only by 1.44. This small score difference has posed no problems to Yuna before (as demonstrated by multiple times in the past). Why is that? Because she makes up for this with other scores like GOE and PCS.
        We not only watch the sport for techinical skills but also artistry, how the skater interprets the music, how much control she has over each of the program element, etc. Yuna is known as the “textbook jumper” because she is skilled at executing all the jumps exactly how they are supposed to be jumped (GOE). (because of her quality. They don’t call her Queen Yuna for nothing.) Even two-time Olympic champion Katarina Witt was nonplussed about the results. She was in the rink and thought the winner should have been Kim. She is also known for her poise and how expressive she is with the choreography (PCS).
        In Sochi, she was severely underscored in GOE and PCS and Sotnikova was overscored. Pay attention to how Sotnikova executes her jumps. She doesn’t have great flow in and out of the jump, she has a slanted axis in air, she under-rotates, had a wobbly and shaky landings possibly two-footed, stepped out of a jump, AND she takes off on the wrong edge (inner edge) on Lutz (called a flutz, or cheating lutz). In the past, she has been called on this and recieved wrong edge calls and got negative GOEs but not in Sochi. If you look at her lutz in slow motion, you can see that she prepares for the jump with the correct outer edge but actually jumps/takes off the ice with the inner edge. Furthermore, the Triple Toeloop in combination with the Lutz was underrotated. She was rewarded for this wrong jump with GOEs. And the step-out mistake that got -0.9GOE?
        According to the rule books, it should have been -2 or -3. Also, Sotnikova recieved level 4 for the step sequence while Yuna got level 3. (It should have been completely opposite) Just watch both their performances and look at the sequence yourself. Sotnikova just flings her arms around a lot and moves her free leg but does not have good speed or acceleration during it, no deep clean edges compared to Kim, lacks effortlessness and flow.
        AND, with respect to PCS, Sotnikova jumped almost 20 points in 6 months. That just does not happen. To quote Kurt Browning, “I was shocked. What, suddenly, she just became a better skater overnight? I don’t know what happened.”. Sotnikova, in the LP, did ATTEMPT a more difficult program but did not execute it properly to justify the grades she got.
        ARTISTRY COMES ONLY AFTER MASTERING SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES. Yuna kim wasn’t just a “ballerina on ice”. She delivered the perfect combination of athleticism and artistry and was not rewarded properly.

      • beebealtlesp - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:43 PM

        Skaters must perform 2programs and receive 2sets of scores for each program- TES (Total Element Score) and PCS (Program Component Score)

        Skaters declare beforehand which jumps they will perform. So their “Base-Value” for the TES is already set before they skate.
        So, what wins the competition is the GOE (Grade of Execution, the “additional” points that given for superior performance)

        The base value doesn’t change unless the skater fails to even attempt it. So Mao’s base value has to be higher than Yuna and Adelina.
        However Mao had more jumps than Sotnikova and ended up with 7 points less, landing on the 6th place. In case you didn’t know, this game is not all about the number of jumps.
        The overall score depends mostly on the GOE and PCS which are both highly Subjective. Mao made a mistake, and SO AS ADELINA.

        If you watch her program again carefully, not to belittle her performance, but she made a mistake such as
        1) Under-rotation on 3LZ-3T combination.

        2) Wrong edge on her 3LZ.
        She used to get wrong edge (e) marks with her 3lz jump in almost every competition she was in.
        Adelina still jumped with the wrong ede in Sochi. but there was no wrong edge mark in protocol.
        In fact, she received positive GOE for jumps that were done with the wrong technique. According to current rules, judges can request a super-slow video replay video of the jumps to verify the edge call. How could have the judges missed it?

        3) Stepped out and Two footed landing on her double loop jump.

        4) Lack of ice coverage

        5) Wrong technique on her salchow jump, etc. Furthermore, 3T requires skaters to use the toe pick during the take off. Instead, Sotnikova used the full blade to jump off the ice.
        In addition, her step sequence does NOT deserve level4 on her both SP and LP.

        But the judges did NOT catch these mistakes.

        She was rewarded for this wrong jump with GOEs.

        This is a total of 5 wrong calls that the technical panel made, which were all in the benefit of Sotnikova. She also received insanely high and incorrect scores from the judging panel – who on Earth could ever give Sotnikova’s step sequence +3 GOE when she has so many sloppy edges, lack of flow between movements, and very little rhythmic timing of her movements? All of these incorrect marks look like far more than honest mistakes or being generous to a young girl who skated well in front of a home audience. It looks like cheating. There is no explanation other than complete incompetence by the both the technical panel and the judges.

        The judging scandal at 2002 winter Olympics changed the judge system, but NOT THE JUDGES…
        “Who will tell young dreamers to become a figure skater if your glory depends on Biased judges& politics&your Country not sportsmanship?”
        How to manipulate scores in Figure skating?

        #PCS : Give a pre-decided PCS to all potential medalist

        #e (wrongedge)
        #< (under rotations) : Do NOT penalized wrong jumps

        #+3GOE : Give irrational +3GOEs

        #Basevalue : Give points on what the skaters "SAY" they would do,
        not on what they actually "Skate".

        Wrong Edges-Flutz, under rotation, Two-foot landing, stepped out, Full blade (instead of toepick), prerotation, Step-seq LV, Biased judgment, Chreography and transition- free movements, Low camera, and so on. The true whole package for WRONG gold medal.

    • klover72 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      Agree. How did Sotnikova get almost 20 more points in 2 months? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out it’s fixed from the start.

  2. mogogo1 - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    They came up with this new system because everybody was tired of the backroom deals where judges clearly favored certain skaters. But by implementing a system that put technical skills over aesthetics there will be cases when the more graceful, artistic skater will lose to somebody who checks off more boxes on the score sheet.

    Within a couple years a young lady will show up who can land quads regularly as well as check off all the other technical marks and she’ll be essentially unbeatable even if she outright falls during her programs.

  3. riricarron - Mar 21, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    There are a couple of points that need to be commented.

    1. KOC and KSU had announced their decision to file a complaint regardless of the athelet’s agreement, NOT after obtaining her consent. Following this release, Kim said via her agent that she “respects” this decision of theirs that must have been made after careful reviews of the public opinion.

    2. Yes, Sotnikova had one more triple jump in her FS than Kim, but she did NOT deliver a clean free program. She made several mistakes like two-foot landing, wrong edge (Flutz), pre-rotation, step-out, etc.,etc. Despite all these mistakes, she earned inflated GOE while Kim got relatively very stingy marks who cleaned the program with flawless execution of each element. (Also, just a reminder – Sotnikova’s total PCS in SP and FS jumped by 20 pts just within 2 months. PCS is not something you can improve overnight and the score is usually quite stable through the same season.)

  4. waythingsbeautiful - Mar 21, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    The report is not telling the truth. Sotnikova didn’t skate clean. One more triple is no excuse for her win. Skaters should be rewarded for what they actually did but no for what they planned to do. Obviously, some of Sontikova’s jumps were poorly executed. I would like to mention that she cheated her Lz in her 3Lz-3T. She also landed two foots and stepped out in her free program performance.

    One more thing. To some eys, her performance could’ve have seemed energetic. But to my eyes, it just looks like a juniorish struggle to show how she play nice. She has yet to improve her jump quality and her movements as well as artistry. She made her night at the Lady’s event but was never perfect at all. Her scores are grossly overmarked.

    It was the technical and judging panels who are to blame.
    If the correct scores had been marked, Sotnikova would’ve been place 3th at best and far behind yuna kim.

  5. psummers890613 - Mar 21, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Oh, by the way, if you count the under rotation on 3T, she didn’t have 7 triples, she had 6.

    • sscrown - Mar 21, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Don’t forget, Kim had one more double jump. So really, the difference is ONE TURN.
      And like you said, counting the under-rotation, the difference is zero.

  6. csan880406 - Mar 21, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Your nuance when you say “Both skated clean programs, and Sotnikova had one more triple jump. Of course, that’s not all that goes into scores, and many journalists, fans and skaters questioned the judging.” It sounds as if they were in somewhat tied position and Adelina had one more triple jump, so Adelina was better, but eh, who’s to say? THAT IS $%#^!! Yuna’s overall skating skills, footwork, her comfortableness and flow on the ice, her quality on the jumps (Adelina with difficult entries people say?? If she were to enter jump with Yuna’s speed, she wouldn’t even have time to do all those. If you see raw cam, not sochi broadcasting, you’ll see how ridiculously fast Yuna is when going into the jumps), her interpretation of Tango (light years ahead of everybody!) and her superb step sequence – Judges who were supposed to see and appreciate all these merits of Yuna’s skating must have been very blind as they would award nearly same PCS to Adelina – who’s interpretation and sync with music were incomplete on so many levels compared to Yuna Kim. Adelina’s jumps seem high and strong but her jumping habits and skills are bogus – Yuna kim learned the jumps the textbook way. One the other hand, Adelina has horrible use of edge during jumps – flutz is one, but also in other jump, she uses full blade when she’s supposed to use only toe before take off. She tends to pre-rotate/twist her body and her head is always turned sideways, compared to Yuna who starts rotation after take-off and her head is in line with her straight torso. And I don’t even want to get started on the tech panel’s numerous mistakes – Flutz and under-rotation, and step sequence. Johnny Weir talks of the Adelina’s Olympic moment and Lipinski stresses how Adelina was technically superior – same with NYT nonsense. Yuna WAS NOT TECHNICALLY INFERIOR. GOD!!

  7. eylcecileylcecil - Mar 21, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Why does this article use this particular picture? There are thousands of elegant and confident looking shots of her to choose from. The author’s intention is questionable.

  8. kerobear - Mar 21, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I don’t really understand what is NBC”s intent to show the photo where KIm Yuna is wiping her tears for the article photo. NBC your photo is very misleading and first of all she wasn’t even crying because of the scores. I don’t know what your intent is. But your article is also very poorly researched. KOC and KSU is sending a complaint without consent. And also. one more riple jump does not mean YOU WIN. if it does, then what is figure skating actually? call if jump skating instead. -_-

    Dear Nick please research more before you write.

  9. chunkala - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    What were commentators saying about the judging?

  10. moorea2010 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Nick, did you even watch the women’s free program performances that night? Because if you did, you should know that Sotnikova DID NOT perform a clean program that night, even if you don’t count the uncalled “flutz” and “under-rotated 3T.”
    And please NBC, stop saying about that “one more triple” crap. It was not the reason why Sotnikova won and that ‘s the reason why people are still raging over it even a month after the event.

  11. annieodonnel - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    The ladies’ single skating competition of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia was held on February 19th and 20th 2014. Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova placed 1st, South Korea’s Kim Yuna 2nd, and Italy’s Carolina Kostner was 3rd. The results provoked outrage among skating communities and international audiences as soon as Kim Yuna’s final scores were announced. I prepared the following in order to lend credence to the accusation that the final standings were determined by corruption instead of fair play.

    The scandal has been exacerbated by a small minority of U.S. media sources covering the incident with disgraceful standards, centered around the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and the New York Times (NYT). One such example is the NYT article, “How Sotnikova Beat Kim, Move by Move,” published on Feb. 20, 2014 (

    The article cited a U.S. coach in making the following claims: 1) Adelina’s combination had a “much higher base value.” 2) “She received high marks for her good flow, height and distance.” 3) “She added a 10 percent bonus by executing the combination in the second half of the program.” 4) Yuna’s jump was “one of the easiest,” its entry was “simple,” and the jump ended with “little speed.” The rest of the article matches up scores from the official scorecard and ends by commenting on footwork and the layback spin. Five NYT employees were bold enough to claim authorship: Larry Buchanan, Jon Huang, Josh Keller, Haeyoun Park, and Archie Tse. None of them appear to be real reporters. The latter three identify themselves as a “Graphics Editor” on twitter. Huang calls himself “Graphics/Multimedia editor,” while Buchanan says that he is in “Graphics” at the NYT.

    The two major issues with this article is that it is useless and disingenuous. The NYT chose Adelina’s 2A+3T and Yuna’s 3S+2T for comparison and this formed the foundation for all four of their claims. It was not immediately clear why these two elements were chosen over the twenty-two other elements from the pair’s free skate programs or the fourteen elements from their short programs. The chosen two involved different types of jumps performed at different points in the two different programs and occurred at different areas of the ice.

    The NYT mentioned “base values” but decided to omit the numbers. Adelina’s “much higher” 2A+3T had a base value of 8.14, which included the 10% “second half” bonus. Yuna’s “one of the easiest” 3S+2T was a 5.50. However, if one compared Yuna’s 3Lz with Adelina’s 3Lo by concocting a narrative around comparing two high-value “triple jumps,” Yuna’s 6.60 base value would beat Adelina’s 5.10 and Yuna would have the “second half” bonus while Adelina would not. Yuna also performed the slightly more valued FCCoSp4 to Adelina’s FCSp4.

    The irrationality of the NYT begins to grow exponentially when considering the “free skate” (FS) competition as a whole, and also when the “short program” (SP) is considered. The most logical reason to consider the entire FS is that the eventual 6th place finisher Mao Asada performed a program with a huge 4.91 total base value advantage over Adelina, with more high-value triple jumps including the “triple axel,” the rarest jump in ladies’ figure skating and the highest-rated single jump with a 8.5 base value. This directly undermines the NYT’s logic that Adelina’s 3.3 value “double axel” was superior to Yuna’s “easy” 1.3 value “double toe” and that the base value difference between Adelina and Yuna was a critical factor in Adelina’s win. Adelina’s FS Technical Elements Score (TES) of 75.54 was higher than Mao’s 73.03 despite the significantly lower base value. Adelina’s Total Segment Score (TSS) of 149.95 was also higher than Mao’s 142.71, as well as Adelina’s Total Points (TP) of 224.59, which dwarfed Mao’s 198.22 by 26.37 points. Incidentally, TP is the sole score that determines the final standings and not base values. Adelina’s TP was 5.48 points higher than Yuna’s 219.11, which was why she received the Gold Medal. None of this helps one understand the NYT’s logic that the “base value” of a “combination” or particular “jump” was a significant reason that Adelina’s “won” over Yuna.

    When taking the SP in account, the scoresheet shows that Yuna performed a 3Lz+3T with a base value of 10.10 while Adelina performed a 8.20 value 3T+3T. One could also compare Yuna’s 3Lz with a 6.0 value with Adelina’s 3T, which was only a 4.1. Yuna’s total SP base value was 31.43 even with the levels of difficulty issue to be discussed further below, which was higher than Adelina’s 30.43. Despite the difference in base value Adelina’s SP TES was only 0.28 points below Yuna’s and Adelina did not receive the Silver Medal. The NYT’s logic is unhelpful in this scenario as well.

    When both the SP and the FS are considered along with all other skaters, NYT’s logic falls apart completely since almost anyone can be selected to demonstrate superiority over another skater by choosing one specific element and concocting a suitable narrative around it. For instance, Kerstein Frank of Austria finished 26th in the SP and did not even qualify for advancement to the FS, but she can be said to be a superior skater to Adelina since her 3S jump was a 4.62 base value and earned the “second half” bonus, while Adelina’s “second half” jump was only a 3.63 value 2A “double jump.” It can also be claimed that Kerstein had the more ambitious program by attempting an extra “second half” jump of 2A with a 3.63 base value while Adelina chose the safer route by performing three spins, one of which was a layback spin with only a 2.70 value. Kerstein’s four “second half” elements netted her 4.62 + 3.20 + 3.63 + 3.50 base values for a total of 14.95, while Adelina’s elements had 3.63 + 2.70 + 3.90 + 3.20 for a total of 13.43. However, Kerstein did not win the Olympic Gold Medal over Adelina, in spite of the NYT’s logic. The eventual 4th place finisher Gracie Gold of America can also be said to have had a far more difficult SP than Adelina. Gracie performed a 3Lz+3T with a 10.10 base value, a 5.61 value 3Lo with the “second half” bonus, and a 3.63 value 2A with the “bonus” for a total of 19.34. By contrast, Adelina performed a 3T+3T of 8.20 base value, a 5.30 value 3F, and a 3.63 value 2A with the “second half” bonus for a total of 17.13 from the three elements. Gracie’s final base value total for the SP was 32.04, while Adelina’s was only 30.43. Gracie strangely did not win the Gold Medal over Adelina. Incidentally, considering both the SP and the FS and every single skater who competed in these programs is the way the Olympic ladies’ singles figure skating winner is actually determined.

    Given that their “base value” analysis is misleading in the extreme, it is strange that the NYT article failed to mention any other type of value. For instance, the “Scores of Panel” value is more helpful in explaining the final outcome includes. The aggregate of the “Scores of Panel” values is called the Total Element Score (TES), which makes up roughly one half of the total score for either the SP or FS. The other half of this equation is made up by the Program Component Score (PCS). The total of the TES and PCS for either the SP or FS is called the Total Segment Score (TSS). The TSS of the SP is added to the TSS of the FS, which makes up the Total Points (TP) that determines the medal standings.

    The composite images used by the NYT to support their claims about Adelina’s superior jumps are misleading and possibly very unethical. The following website does a good job in examining those images (

    The next sections of the article titled, “Where Sotnikova Scored Higher,” and “Where Kim Scored Higher,” lists numbers that could mislead members of the general public unfamiliar with the intricacies of the international scoring system into thinking that the NYT graphics were analyzing “base values.” It would be a reasonable assumption to make since “base value” was the only type of value mentioned in the entire article. However, these numbers are not base values and such an assumption would be playing right into the NYT’s grand plan for the article, which is to blame Yuna for her loss and divert all attention away from the judging and subjectivity which may have improperly influenced the final result.

    The numbers in the NYT graphics are actually the “Scores of Panel” values, which are the final scores assigned to each element of the given program. They are calculated by adding the trimmed mean Grade of Execution (GOE) to the base values. The aggregate of the “Scores of Panel” values equals the Technical Elements Score (TES) which was mentioned above. One can verify this by examining the official scoresheets for both the SP and the FS which can be downloaded using the following links:
    The TES can be thought of as a general appraisal of the skater’s technical performance for the given program, while the Program Component Score (PCS) can be thought of as a general appraisal of the skater’s artistic performance. However, the categories should not be thought of as being mutually exclusive.

    The “trimmed mean” or final Grade of Execution (GOE) scores for each element are calculated using three components: 1) the scale of values, 2) the judges’ subjective scores, and the 3) technical panel’s various determinations. The scale of values (SoV) is the fairest out of the three, since the values are determined prior to the competition and the exact numerical values are publically distributed. For example, a triple lutz (3Lz) is currently worth 6.0 base value, while a level 4 difficulty step sequence (StSq4) has been assigned a 3.9 base value. The technical panel has the power to make all sorts of changes to a skater’s GOE, by identifying elements as they are performed, determining the levels of difficulty for spins and step sequences, and assigning deductions for errors. The panel of nine judges assigns scores ranging from a -3 to +3 for the quality of each skater’s elements and determines program component marks using a scale from 0.25 to 10. A major problem concerning the panel of judges not found in American competitions is that international judging is anonymous, so the judges’ names are not linked with their submitted scores.

    With an understanding of the other relevant numbers in mind the general strategy of the NYT in crafting the article begins to be revealed. The fixation on the “base value” was due to the fact that it was the only value contained in the official scoresheet that could be used to cast the blame on Yuna and away from the judging. The “Where Sotnikova Scored Higher,” and “Where Kim Scored Higher,” graphics were not correctly identified as the “Scores of Panel” values which are totaled into the Total Elements Score (TES) because the NYT would have needed to explain how the numbers had been derived, inevitably shifting the focus to the judging and the possibility of subjective tampering. The NYT’s interest was in merely providing the appearance of analysis on “How Sotnikova Beat Kim, Move by Move” using objective “numbers” while preventing the official scorers’ subjectivity from being subjected to any thought whatsoever. It was a truly elevated form of subversion, by pretending to be interested in the central question of the scandal, “did corrupt officials conspire to rig the results?” but being completely invested in foiling any attempt by the reader in examining that very question.

    The previous irrationality of the NYT also starts to make sense with this perspective into their motivation in place. Adelina’s 2A+3T was chosen because it was the 3rd highest base value element in her FS program, while Yuna’s 3S+2T was only the 4th highest (and only 0.20 off the 5th highest) in hers. Adelina’s highest base value element was a 10.10 value 3Lz+3T, and the 2nd highest was a 3F+2T+2Lo combination worth 9.24. Yuna’s 3Lz+3T was her highest at 10.10, a 2A+2T+2Lo was 2nd at 7.04, and a 3Lz was the 3rd at 6.60. If the NYT had compared Adelina’s 3Lz+3T or 3F+2T+2Lo, its vested narrative about Adelina’s superior program and Yuna’s inferior program would have fallen apart because Adelina made critical errors in performing her top two elements while Yuna performed every single one of her elements cleanly in both her programs. Flawed elements result in a lower FS Total Element Score (TES) and consequently a lower Total Points (TP), offsetting the benefit gained through the base value. Picking a flawed element would also invite unwanted scrutiny into why the final score for the element did not reflect its high base value. Adelina’s flaws will be examined in greater detail further below.

    By contrast, Yuna’s 3S+2T was chosen because it was her lowest ranked base value element that could be picked while maintaining some semblance of a reason for the comparison. The result was the arbitrarily concocted narrative about how Adelina chose a combination with a “much higher” base value with the “most difficult double jump, the double axel,” while Yuna “chose” one of the “easiest” double jumps with a low base value. This trickery fit in well with the TES misdirection used in the subsequent graphical sections and also as numbers that would close the substantial 5.48 TP gap between Adelina and Yuna as much as possible.

    Most of the NYT’s evidence consists of describing selective parts of the official scoresheets, which had already been made accessible to everyone by the International Skating Union (ISU) upon the conclusion of each program. The NYT’s composite images are highly questionable (see link above), and the only thing left of the article are the simple characterizations used to describe each skater: “good flow, height and distance,” “simple,” “little speed,” “changed positions with ease while maintaining speed and intensity.”

    In examining the claims that Adelina exhibited “good flow, height and distance” about either the double axel or the two-jump combination while Yuna’s double jump had a “simple” entry and ended with “little speed,” the sheer irrationality of the NYT’s composite images and lack of clarity in which specific jumps are being compared foils any attempt to judge the merit of these claims and undermines their credibility. The two elements selected by the NYT contained different types of jumps at different parts of each program with different preparations, different take-offs, different rotations, and different landings, and there is no reference or attempt to compare the six other elements involving jumps that each skater performed in their FS or the three other such elements from the SPs. The composite image of Adelina was also scaled to make her appear bigger than Yuna, and even after viewing the correctly scaled images from the site the severe distortions in the viewing angle makes it difficult to accurately gauge the height of the jumps or distances traveled on ice. Ironically, Adelina’s image makes her jumps look awkward and uneven while Yuna’s jumps look significantly cleaner and superior.

    The following website provides analysis of both skaters’ jumps and a number of animated GIF files for detailed viewing (

    The final section titled, “Footwork and Layback Spin,” continued the pattern of describing what the judges did while insulating the article from any thought on why they may have done so. The NYT misleadingly made it seem as if Yuna was responsible for performing level 3 steps and layback spin while Sotnikova was responsible for her level 4s by withholding the explanation that these levels of difficulty were determined by the “technical panel,” comprised of three officials and led by the technical controller. This panel was even more significant than usual because for both the SP and FS the technical controller was Alexander Lakernik and the assistant technical specialist was Olga Baranova. These major figures will be discussed at length in the section concerning judging and corruption further below.

    Concerning Adelina’s layback spin, the NYT claimed that she “changed positions with ease while maintaining speed and intensity.” On the surface this appeared to be the article’s best argument because Yuna had suffered from back injuries in recent years and had not been arching her back as much as she had done in previous competitions. However, this also suffered from numerous credibility issues. As the NYT’s numbers graphic showed, Adelina’s level 4 layback spin contributed 0.73 more points to the Total Element Score (TES) than Yuna’s level 3 spin. But since Adelina received 5.85 higher TES than Yuna in the FS, 5.12 points remain unaccounted for. The difference in GOE was an even smaller 0.43. The layback is a staple of ladies’ competitions, but not everyone performed the spin. The technical panel awarded many level 4 and level 3s to various skaters for the SP and FS. The two panels of judges awarded different scores based on the difficulty levels. The NYT characterization focused exclusively on Adelina’s layback without even pointing out what was wrong about Yuna’s. Without any comment about any other skater it is impossible to understand how the NYT’s characterization applies in the context of the two programs. This inability also means that the central question surrounding the scandal, whether judges and technical panelists intentionally inflated the scores of Russian skaters, remains untouched.

    The composite images created by the NYT to compare Yuna and Adelina’s layback spins are even stranger than the images made for the jumps. The current ISU system forces skaters attempting higher levels of difficulty to change their spinning positions numerous times to satisfy the difficult variations requirement. The obvious problem with the images is that only one spinning position from both skaters is shown. There is nothing to support the claim that Adelina changed positions effortlessly while maintaining speed and intensity.

    The images may have been created to make an unstated point about the tightness of Adelina’s spin, since a frequent criticism of poorly executed spins is that it “travels.” In that case, the following website made a detailed analysis of the entire sequence of both skaters’ layback spins and found that Yuna’s spin “traveled” less than Adelina’s

    The NYT’s continuing success in demonstrating uselessness did reveal another side to their mischief. The article mentioned that “footwork” or “step sequence” (StSq) was also assigned as a level 3 for Yuna and level 4 for Adelina but failed to offer any comment. This was significant because aside from the technical panel’s inexplicable judgments on Adelina’s jumps, this discrepancy in the StSq levels was what has implicated the panel and had made the conflicts of interest of the individual panelists eminently relevant to those suspecting Russian favoritism. In the SP Adelina was the only one to receive a level 4 determination among the top seven skaters. In the FS, everyone in the top four received a level 4 except for Yuna.

    In theory assigning levels for StSq is relatively straightforward. The skater must execute the sequence in accordance with the selected music and the ice surface, while the balance of the turns and deepness of the skate’s edges also matters. A level 4 sequence (StSq4) needs to incorporate at least three “difficult turns” (rockers, counters, twizzles, brackets, loops) within a clear rhythm, and the panel also looks at upper body movement and how the body rotates throughout the pattern. There is a great deal of correlation between an exceptionally performed StSq and many of the factors required by the Program Component Score (PCS). A StSq4 is worth 3.90 in base value while a level 4 layback spin (LSp4) is only 2.70.

    Due to the slower speeds, frequent turns, and varied motions the StSq easily exposed a junior-division-caliber performer in Adelina against an elite Olympian in Yuna. The fact that Yuna’s faster steps with deeper edges, clear and clean turns, great variety of movements and pacing according to the music received a level 3 while Adelina’s received a level 4 was one of the most inexplicable results at Sochi.
    The site does a good job of breaking down both skater’s turns here: (
    For the best comparison I recommend the following video of the FS StSqs, which is divided into three parts: 1) side by side comparison, 2) slow-motion comparison, and 3) each skater with their own music (

    Skating in accordance with the chosen music is an integral part of a program and is usually associated with the Program Components Score (PCS). However, according to the ISU guidelines, disregard of the music warrants a -1 or -2 GOE deduction during the StSq and even a -3 for the Choreographic Sequences (ChSq). Adelina skated completely off the music for the majority of her programs. Being exuberant and energetic are not supposed to be positives when the movements are arbitrary. Adelina benefited from a 1.50 GOE ChSq1 and a shockingly high 1.70 GOE StSq4 in the FS and 1.50 GOE StSq4 in the SP. These scores should have been negatives which detracted from her technical score instead. In contrast, Yuna received only a 1.50 GOE ChSq1 and 1.14 GOE StSq3 in the FS and a 1.14 GOE StSq3 in the SP for her beautifully synchronized programs. The three-part comparison video of the FS StSqs above illustrates the jarring dissimilarity of the two programs better than any words could possibly describe.

    At the January 2014 European Championships, Adelina’s FCSp4, LSp3, CCoSp1 spins and StSq3 steps were assigned 4, 3, 1, and 3 levels of difficulty. At Sochi, her substantially similar program earned her 4, 4, 4, and 4 levels respectively. The higher levels awarded by the technical panel increased her base values from 10.9 to 13.3, while her GOE rose from 3.93 to 5.34 in the span of a month. A more detailed discussion about the grading will take place further below.

    The NYT also published a related article called, “Every Women’s Figure Skating Jump, on One Page”:
    This article enthusiastically continued the pattern of the previous NYT article in perpetuating false and misleading information. While it may have appeared as analytical due to the presence of graphics, it plainly was not. The graphics were made to simply reflect the official FS scoresheet, albeit in inaccurate ways, starting with the incorrect sizes for the circles. The title of the article was incorrect because the graphics only reflected the jumps from the FS while omitting everything from the SP. The numbers next to each skater’s graphic were incorrect because they were the Total Points (TP), which was calculated by adding the TES and PCS from both the SP and FS. The graphics did not even reflect a portion of the FS TES, because the circles were said to reflect the base values. As was discussed above, base values need to be added to each corresponding trimmed mean GOE before the aggregate can be turned into a TES. The assertion that “Sotnikova skated a more difficult program that was judged more favorably than that of South Korean Kim Yu-na,” was the product of the same subversive NYT collective mind seeking to prevent readers from getting at the judging fraud scandal by attempting to justify the results based on the relentlessly irrational “base value analysis.” The stated author of the article was another self-identified “graphics editor” of the newspaper.

    The two articles raised some serious questions about the integrity of the NYT. The newspaper did not produce a “How Sotnikova Beat Kim, Move by Move” type of article involving any other Olympic skater, suggesting that they were not completely ignorant about the corruption scandal surrounding the ladies’ result. At the same time, the degree of care poured into crafting the articles as to categorically prevent the reader from coming into contact with any thought about corruption and instead blame Kim Yuna’s FS program preparation or her technical performance was extraordinary.

    “Weir and Lipinski Discuss Skating Controversy”
    I grabbed a portion of comments from each commentator that caught my attention and contained arguments that were not addressed in the NYT rebuttal.

    According to Johnny Weir, Adelina skated “flawlessly” except for one element where she landed on two feet, and “…(Adelina’s) 3F+2T+2Lo came in the 2nd half,” while “Yuna did very little in the 2nd half.”
    Tara Lipinski said, “I think where all this is coming from is, Adelina is not the most graceful skater. She has a lot of energy and power and she’s athletic where as Yuna is the ballerina on ice. But when it comes down to it, it’s an Olympic night and you’ve got to perform the program. And Yuna didn’t. I have never seen Adelina skate two clean performances like that ever.”

    It is unfortunate that Weir and Lipinski exists as figure skating analysts. The word “clean” is one of the most commonly used words in figure skating that is used to characterize an error-free program. As arguably the greatest ladies’ figure skater ever, Yuna was the logical target that corrupt officials would seek to undermine. Despite this fact her SP and FS contained no GOE deductions and no negative quality grades. As an unaccomplished Russian, Adelina was one of the two logical targets that corrupt officials would seek to elevate. Despite this fact Adelina received a negative trimmed mean GOE on an element and ten negative quality grades. Lipinski’s “clean performances” characterization only makes sense when used to describe Yuna’s performances. It is simply illogical to claim that Adelina had “clean performances” in contrast to Yuna.

    Adelina’s element that Weir elevated was the following jump combination from the FS: ( The video shown by NBC was wrong because those jumps were not the 3F+2T+2Lo mentioned by Weir.

    Weir’s choice of this particular element over all the others was ironic because it was the single ugliest element among the top skaters. Adelina stepped-out and two-footed her 2Lo landing. The International Skating Union’s (ISU) “IV. Updated Guidelines in establishing GOE for errors in Short Program and Free Skating” names “Stepping out of landing in a jump” as an error for which the final GOE must be in the minuses with either a -2 or -3 grade. “Landing on two feet in a jump” warrants a -3 grade according to
    ( Additionally, the axis of rotation was wildly tilted, which forced her to over-rotate in order to regain her balance and avoid falling down. This should have warranted an even larger GOE deduction to the element.

    Despite the mandatory rules Adelina received six -1s and three -2s for a -0.90 GOE. The landing was so severe that an Adelina fan watching from the farthest recesses of the stadium should not have missed it, let alone judges sitting at rinkside. Aside from falling over there was not much else that Adelina could have done to fail her planned element. At the very least the same panel of judges could have given a score similar to Ashley Wagner’s flawed element, which received four -3s and four -2s for a -1.70 GOE. As was explained above, a negative GOE decreases the base value of the element when calculating the final score for that element.

    Adelina’s 3Lz+3T in the FS was her most important element with a base value of 10.10. Yuna also performed the same FS 3Lz+3T and also did so in the SP. The following is an in-depth pictorial analysis of the two skaters’ elements: (

    Adelina’s triple-lutz (3Lz) was the first jump of the combination and was performed off the wrong edge. By watching NBC’s broadcast in slow-motion one can see the bright glint of her skate turned outward during preparation for the jump, which disappears sharply as the blade and her whole body turns inward prior to take-off. This is considered to be such a fundamental error in figure skating that the flawed jump is referred to as a “flutz,” or a failed lutz. It was the job of the technical panel to identify this flaw and indicate the proper deduction for the judges, which should have appeared as an “e” next to the element on the scoresheet. Instead, the panel did not assign a single deduction to Adelina at Sochi. A single triple jump can be assigned a different base value according to the six types of jumps: axel, lutz, flip, loop, salchow, and toeloop. The base values range from 8.5 to 4.1. If the distinctions between different types of jumps are not upheld by the three technical panel officials and nine judging officials, there would be no point in awarding differing values.

    The 3Lz is the jump with the highest base value in ladies’ figure skating at 6.0, aside from the very rare 3A which was only attempted by Mao Asada at Sochi. Anyone with any familiarity with Adelina as a skater knows that she lacks proficiency with elements containing the 3Lz. During the current 2013–14 figure skating season and excluding Sochi, Adelina attempted seven 3Lzs and received a major deduction for each attempt.
    In the January 2014 European Championships, she received a wrong edge “e” deduction on her single FS 3Lz (
    In the December 2013 Russian Figure Skating Championships, she received a “under-rotation” deduction for under-rotating her FS 3Lz+3Lo (
    In the December 2013 Grand Prix Final, she received an “e” deduction on her FS 3Lz+3Lo (
    In the November 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard, she received an “e” on her FS 3Lz+2T (
    She also attempted a 3Lz+3Lo in her SP and received a “downgrade” deduction for severe under-rotation and an “e” deduction (
    In the November 2013 Cup of China, she received an “e” deduction on her 3Lz+2T
    She also tried a 3Lz+3Lo in her SP and received a “under-rotation” deduction (
    This history also provides a reasonable explanation for why Adelina saved the 10.10 base value 3Lz+3T combination for the FS at Sochi and performed a much easier 8.20 base value 3T+3T for the SP. These facts make it particularly unbelievable that the technical panel failed to properly identify her flutz at the Olympics.

    The biggest problem with Adelina’s 3T jump in her 3Lz+3T combination was the clear under-rotation, which the technical should have indicated with a “under-rotation” or “downgrade” symbol on the scoresheet according to the official ISU guidelines. The 3T also requires skaters to use the toe pick during take-off. Instead, Adelina used the full blade to press against the ice, a jumping technique that is simply wrong. As a result of these flaws, even after watching the slow-motion replays multiple times I have no idea what kind of jump she performed. Whatever it was, it seems inappropriate to identify it as a triple jump from the under-rotation alone. The technical panel had the duty to identify each skater’s element as they were performed. They had access to the latest in replay technology to assist them in these determinations. In spite of all the egregious flaws warranting mandatory deductions, Adelina’s entire 3Lz+3T element was deemed to be clean while the mysterious second jump was determined to be a 3T. Adelina ended up with a positive GOE of 1.00 and even received an “outstanding” quality score of “+3″ from a judge. Only a single judge assigned a negative quality grade of -1.

    These grades were even more troubling when considering a skater such as Mao, who received two “under-rotation” deductions for her 3F+3Lo and 2A+3T, and an “e” deduction for a flutz. Based on NBC’s slow-motion replays, I think that it is highly debatable whether Mao deserved the two “under-rotation” deductions from the technical panel. What does seem conclusively clear was that Mao did not under-rotate on both of her elements as much as Adelina under-rotated on her 3Lz+3T. The panel of judges gave Mao GOEs of 0.00 and 0.14 for her elements. Adelina’s element received a 1.00 GOE.

    By contrast, Yuna’s 3Lz+3T was technically magnificent and the jumps were clearly identifiable. It was the highest rated base value element at Sochi and Yuna performed it in both the SP and FS. I am not sure that even the harshest of Yuna’s critics could point to any other element found in any other competitor’s programs that was technically superior. It was a characteristic textbook performance. Despite such execution, Yuna received mostly +2s from the judges and ended up with a GOE 1.60 for the FS and GOE 1.50 for the SP. She only had three elements at Sochi which received a 1.50 GOE determination or higher, while Adelina had seven. Adelina’s ugly 3F+2T+2Lo that was elevated by Weir was the only element that failed to receive at least a 1.00 GOE. Despite being the only skater without a single negative quality grade, eight out of Yuna’s nineteen elements received less than a 1.00 GOE.

    While Adelina made the most egregious flaws for her two highest base value jump combination elements, all of her other jumps were also questionable in comparison to the other skaters. Adelina’s third highest FS element was the 2A+3T, which was not performed by Yuna but was a part of both Carolina and Gracie’s programs. The slow-motion replay of Adelina’s 2A shows crooked shoulders indicative of poor posture and an awkward landing. The element seems to have warranted at most a quality grade of +1. Instead, five judges awarded +3s and four gave +2s for a 1.80 GOE. Carolina’s element appeared to be more technically sound but she received one +3, six +2s, and two +1s for a 1.30 GOE. Gracie’s element also appeared to be superior to Adelina’s but she received seven +2s, and two +1s for a 1.30 GOE.

    Yuna and Adelina both performed a 3F for their second FS elements. Adelina received three +3s, four +2s, and two +1s for a 1.50 GOE. Yuna had one +3, five +2s, and three +1s for a 1.20 GOE. The superior scores for Adelina were surprising since her edge wobbled at the point of entry and her characteristic poor posture made the jump appear unnecessarily difficult. Lipinski said that Adelina had “a lot of energy and power” and was “athletic,” but I cringed whenever her blunt edge pounded the ice. Adelina’s lack of technical polish can be seen in the slow-motion SP 3F comparison at this website: ( Her SP 3F received six +2s and three +1s for a 1.20 GOE while Yuna received five +2s, three +1s, and one absolutely inexplicable 0 for a 1.10 GOE. Yuna jumps that were seamlessly blended into the choreography of the program with perfect technique and excellent flow in and out of the jump were deemed inferior in quality to Adelina’s.

    What the NBC analysts and the NYT appear to be defiantly oblivious to is that the ISU system of scoring is supposed to reward the actual execution of a skater’s program, not the planned routine on paper. The judging officials are supposed to quantify the technical quality of a skater’s execution through the assignment of the grades of execution. A single 3Lz has a 6.0 base value, but with a +3 GOE the total value increases to 8.1 points, while a -3 GOE decreases it to only be 3.9. Yuna became a numerous record-setting champion not because she always jumped an additional triple over her competitors, but because her levels of execution on her triples were better than every other skater in the competition, which was precisely the case at Sochi. Lipinski’s dismissal of Yuna as a mere artistic performer while apologizing for Adelina by describing her as “athletic” completely ignores Yuna’s excellent speed and flow, exponentially cleaner landings, flawless rotations, sensible body movements in relation to the music, jumps covering huge distances, and ice coverage over the entire rink. Her ability to consistently perform at technically superior levels was the reason she had received high GOE marks throughout her career, which was duplicated at Sochi but was inexplicably graded lower than Adelina, who received positive GOEs for performing her planned elements incorrectly.

    Judges showered Adelina with 33 “outstanding” quality grades of “+3″ in her FS while Yuna had 13. Adelina also received 55 +2s to Yuna’s 54, and 9 +1s to Yuna’s 41. In both the FS and SP combined, Adelina received 47 +3s to Yuna’s 22, 98 +2s to Yuna’s 97, and 14 +1s to Yuna’s 51. Bronze medalist Carolina received 12 +3 scores in the FS. Mao received 6 FS +3s. Fourth place finisher Gracie had 6 FS +3s. Gracie scored a 69.57 FS TES despite her fall and was only 0.12 points behind Yuna’s technically textbook program.

    Fifth place finisher and Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya received 27 FS +3s, more than Yuna and Carolina combined. If Yulia had just managed to stay on her feet at Sochi it appears that the officials were willing to crown her alongside Adelina as either the gold or silver medalist. Yulia closely resembled Adelina by being fundamentally flawed in her jumps and having grossly immature programs, and despite this she was awarded a higher FS PCS than Mao. Yulia’s FS 3S was not downgraded or even given the under-rotation deduction despite the disastrous execution. Her attempted 3Lz+3T contained a clear flutz but was not assigned the “e” deduction. That element got her two 0s from two judges, but the fifth and ninth judges gave her the outstanding +3 grade. The fifth and ninth judges doled out 11 FS +3s to Yulia, which was only two less than all the +3s given to Yuna. Yulia’s FS TES was 66.28, only 3.41 points off of Yuna’s clean 69.69. Yulia skated two flawed programs with two falls but received a 200+ TP score.

    Adelina’s previous personal best score came at the January 2014 European Championships, where she used a similar routine to achieve a 131.63 FS score, which was 18.32 points lower than the 149.95 at Sochi. The 149.95 represented around a 40+ increase over her average from the previous year. Her best TP outside of Russia was the 202.36 TP from the January 2014 European Championships. A month later the Sochi judges gave her a 224.59 score, a 22.23 TP increase. The fact that her national TP scores were dwarfed by the Sochi score received against the very best international competition was nothing short of astonishing. The dramatic rise of Adelina’s scores are shown in video form here:

    The focus on the technical scores overshadows the Performance Component Scores (PCS), which constitutes roughly one-half of each skater’s final score. The ISU guidelines for the PCS is found here:
    The five PCS components are: Skating Skills; Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement; Performance / Execution; Choreography / Composition; and Interpretation.

    There does not seem to be anyone claiming that Adelina deserved her PCS, but the scores were important and alarming nonetheless. Adelina’s PCS for the SP was 35.55, while Yuna had a 35.89. Adelina’s FS PCS was 74.41, while Yuna’s was 74.50. In the SP, one judge submitted a scorecard of 8.25, 8.00, 8.00, 7.75, and 8.50 for Yuna, while another’s read 8.50, 7.75, 8.50, 8.00, and 8.25. A judge gave Adelina 9.50, 9.25, 9.75, 9.50, and 9.75, while another gave 9.25, 9.00, 9.75, 9.25, and 9.50. In the FS, six judges awarded Adelina almost perfect PCS scores, while one judge stood out for giving Yuna 8.50, 7.75, 8.75, 8.25, and 8.75.

    Skating Skills scores are supposed to gauge the quality of basics involving crossovers, edges, turns, extensions, flow, power, and speed.

    Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement scores are supposed to gauge the quality of what lies between the twelve technical elements of the FS or the seven elements in the SP, including how a skater approaches and exits from each element. Quality is determined by the variety, difficulty, and intricacy of steps and body movements, using high and low planes, spirals, extensions, turns, pushes, kicks, glides, varying speeds, as well as timing in relation to the elements.

    Performance / Execution scores are supposed to gauge the quality of how the skater translates the music and choreography into her program, and the precision of the execution.

    Choreography / Composition scores are supposed to gauge the quality of arrangement and communication of a clear concept behind a coherent framework. It involves spatial awareness, originality, developing patterns, as well as an ear for rhythm and musicality.

    Interpretation scores are supposed to gauge the quality of skating in accordance to the music.

    As the descriptions of the components suggests, the criteria governing what factors into each component are not mutually exclusive. A skater exhibiting poor edge control throughout her program should expect her various technical element scores to suffer, as well as some performance component scores. Some people consider crowd reaction as a factor of the “performance / execution” component, but I think that it would be a mistake to value it highly in the case of Sochi. It would be an insult to figure skating to penalize Yuna’s score for failing to win over the rinkside official who tried to distract her with the sign of the devil in the SP, or the two people in the audience who tried to shine light into her eye during her FS, or the Russian nationals that turned out just for Adelina and Yulia.

    The PCS can be said to be a more subjective score since it is calculated using the five component scores that judges assign for the skater’s entire program. Unlike the TES, the scores are not broken down according to each element attempted by the skater and arranged in chronological order. However, it would be disrespectful to the sport to assume that such limitations would render the judges’ scores immune to scrutiny. Basketball officiating can be said to be subjective, but if a referee made foul calls only on players from one team playing away from the ball and having no physical contact with anyone, it would create a reasonable basis for skepticism. If the referee also made technical foul calls on players sitting passively on the bench and allowed the opposing team’s players to take five conspicuous steps towards the basket without dribbling, questions would naturally be raised about potential favoritism.

    Any serious Olympic hopeful requires the aid of a professional choreographer to craft suitable routines according to specific pieces of music. It is a distinct role separate from the skater’s coach. There are entire figure skating schools and teachers devoted to teaching choreography to budding students, and they use specific terms that have developed technical meanings and are reflected in how the ISU guidelines are understood by the figure skating community at large.

    A successful program may involve some of the following nuances: contrasting sharp and slow movements; contrasting differing types of energy; developing repetitive or related movements; hovering or delaying; sequencing movements with growing intensity; building into a climax; repeating a previous sequence in reverse order; accentuating off musical beats; moving according to the structure of the music; showing variation of space throughout the body; utilizing curbs and back turns; utilizing asymmetrical and unusual movements; utilizing the entire rink; connecting sequences seamlessly; increasing tempo using toe turns; emoting to the audience, etc.

    Adelina skated in the FS to “Introduction and Rondo Caprissioso,” with a program that had choreography and transitions but it was unclear what any of it had to do with the music or the performance as a whole. The transitions were oblivious to the music and the melody and beats passed by without being acknowledged. She repeatedly flailed her arms and kicked with her legs but it did not seem as if she had any idea why they were moving one way or another. She included a strange rope-pulling pantomime sequence. She waved to the crowd during her spiral. She walked through her step sequences. She lacked the line, posture, positioning, ice coverage, or elegance of the other elite skaters. She was exuberant and expended plenty of energy, but skating quality is supposed to involve effortless power with precise and purposeful technique.

    The judges awarded Adelina’s program historically high marks. Such grading makes a mockery out of a skater such as Carolina, who evolved into an elite skater not because she pushed herself with extra triple jumps but through improvement of the qualities traditionally valued by the PCS. Her program did not stand out through amateurish antics of arm flailing, exuberating, or excessive expenditures of energy. Instead, Carolina stood out by being fluid and smooth with her movements and skating in precise accordance to a program crafted specifically for her musical piece. Her FS “Bolero” should be studied as a demonstration on interpretation and choreography and was a career-defining performance, but her 73.77 PCS was beaten by Adelina’s 74.41.
    Carolina fancam: (

    Yuna skated to “Adios Nonino” in the FS. I’m almost tempted to refer to this comparison video again and stop: ( Adelina’s 74.41 score is frustrating. Just like Carolina and Mao, Yuna skated a program with greater overall difficulty, refinement, sophistication, better speed and edge control, more difficult transitions, and less two-footed skating. Yuna did not skate by exuberating all over the ice. We saw a skater who had changed and evolved from the “James Bond Medley” or “Gershwin Concerto in F” performances. Yuna was elegant and understated but focused. It was a mature performance evocative of melancholic longing but also reflective. The Sochi judges gave the world’s leader of PCS skating three 7.75 scores, while Adelina received so many 9s that it would have beaten Yuna’s 2013 “Les Miserables.” Even the Gershwin performance would have lost without the spiral.
    Yuna’s FS without commentary: (

    A magnificently performed program is said to transcend the physical act of skating and create a piece of art, as the skater’s body becomes an instrument that plays the notes to the music. In a sport such as football, how one scores a touchdown does not really matter. A team that scores by running a perfectly executed play is not scored differently from a team that scores fortuitously by picking up a fumbled football on a broken play. An exciting play is not given a better score over a boring one.

    Quality of performance matters in figure skating. In the FS, Yuna, Mao, and Carolina demonstrated an elevated level of skating above and beyond Adelina and Yulia. Through Russian inflation, the judges devalued the greatest qualities of skating by propping up the home girls and placing all five on equal footing.

    Judging and Corruption (to be continued)
    Important names: Alexander Lakernik, Alla Shekiovtseva, Yuri Balkov, Olga Baranova.
    Also important: Ottavio Cinquanta, Svyatoslav Babenko, Alfred Korytek, Marie Reine Le Gougne, Didier Gailhaguet, David Dore, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, Fredi Schmid, Natalia Kruglova.

    The following people worked for the ISU but lost their positions and/or were reprimanded for helping to uncover corruption or speaking out against it: Jean Senft, Sally-Anne Stapleford, Ron Pfenning, Katsuichiro Hisanaga, Britta Lindgren, Alain Miguel, Benoit Lavoie, Jon Jackson, Christine Blanc, Eugenia Gasiorowska.

    • maplevista - Mar 22, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      This was worth reading just for the education on the sport. 6.0 on both technical and artistic merits.

    • wannahockachewie - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      The only thing I might add is this… Tim Gerber had analyzed every movement of Yuna’s and Adelina’s FS routines and has determined that Yuna’s step sequence should have received a level 4 and Adelina a level 3. His findings were verified by 2 ISU-certified technical specialists.

      His qualifications:
      1. Former figure skater
      2. Attendee of ISU technical specialist seminar, meant to train technical specialists for judging (but has not judged events)

      Here is his letter he sent to 33 office holders of the ISU. There you’ll find links to his detailed analysis.

  12. abbeyelizabethrogers - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Adelina Sotnikova’s win was truly the definition of injustice. Everyone who understands the basics of Figure Skating should know that the results were clearly rigged so that a Russia girl could win the Gold medal. How are girls dreaming of becoming Olympians ever going to train in and out for their dreams if the results are already predetermined by conniving politicians and sponsors? This is preposterous and needs to be dealt with right away or no other girls from any country will dedicate their lives to a sport that is contaminated by foul judging and power play.
    In the beginning of the Sochi Olympics, there were rumors that the Americans and Russians have teamed up to completely rig the judging system in favor of their respective athletes. At first, I thought this whole idea was complete unfounded. Americans are proudly known to be unprejudiced, free, and unlikely to succumb to such degrading morals. The way NBC has portrayed their stance on Sotnikova’s win suggests there are valid bases to the initial rumors. Today, I am truly embarrassed of NBC. The 2014 Sochi Ladies Figure Skating Results has now completely bastardized the world of Figure Skating and sadly NBC chooses to stand by this.
    I cannot understand why you choose to support the inhumane and evil powers of society. While you may think that these lies that you create will be insignificant, the sins that you have made will come to haunt you. You will be forever haunted by the screaming cries of inequality and ultimately perish crushed underneath your sins.

  13. figurefan90 - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    Don’t understand “Both skated clean programs” from this article. Sotnikova did a few obvious mistakes 1. two foot landing on one of her combination and 2. used wrong edge on her 3lutz jump. This is wrong information. This line should be corrected from this article.

  14. beebealtlesp - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:32 AM

    There is no doubt that Adelina is a marvellous, very promising young girl. but the questions that still remain a month after the competition.
    1.How has Sotnikova’s PCS increased by a total of 19.48 points (counting both short and free skates) in a space of 6 months?
    2. Why didn’t judges mark wrong edge on her FLUTZ?
    3.That her 3T was under-rotated by 1/4 or 1/2 was visible even to the naked eye without the slow-motion replay. And as has been pointed out above, there should have been further deduction for her wrong edge along with the deduction for the under-rotation. Instead she was awarded plus GOE for the combination. Furthermore, 3T requires skaters to use the toe pick during the take off. Instead, Sotnikova used the full blade to jump off the ice?
    a completely wrong and improper jumping technique.
    4.She stepped out of the double loop and two-footed the landing. It seriously disrupted the flow of the jump. In addition, her rotation in the air was shaky. According to guidelines given by ISU, such mistake (two footed landing in particular) merits -2 to -3 level of GOE. But the penalty given was only at -0.9. Even if the judges had decided that -2 level of GOE would be sufficient, the point deducted would have been at least 1.4.
    5.How did she get the step level 4 in both short and free programs?
    6.How was her low-grade flip awarded the higher GOE than Yuna’s?
    7.Only 1.44 difference in the base value! It is the actual execution of those jumps and judges’ perception of their quality that determine the marks, not the plan on the paper. It has already been said that Sotnikova’s executions of technical elements were not the cleanest on the night. But GOE given to her is something you would see given to perfectly executed elements.

  15. beebealtlesp - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:45 AM

    People who are new to figure skating and don’t know much about how scoring works think that Yuna had an easier program and Sotnikova was more technical – and that’s why Sotnikova won. This argument is coming only by looking at the base value scores. Yes, Yuna had a lower base value score for the free skate but she had a higher base value score in short program.
    and in total, their SP + LP base value scores differ only by 1.44. This small score difference has posed no problems to Yuna before (as demonstrated by multiple times in the past). Why is that? Because she makes up for this with other scores like GOE and PCS.
    We not only watch the sport for techinical skills but also artistry, how the skater interprets the music, how much control she has over each of the program element, etc. Yuna is known as the “textbook jumper” because she is skilled at executing all the jumps exactly how they are supposed to be jumped (GOE). (because of her quality. They don’t call her Queen Yuna for nothing.) Even two-time Olympic champion Katarina Witt was nonplussed about the results. She was in the rink and thought the winner should have been Kim. She is also known for her poise and how expressive she is with the choreography (PCS).
    In Sochi, she was severely underscored in GOE and PCS and Sotnikova was overscored. Pay attention to how Sotnikova executes her jumps. She doesn’t have great flow in and out of the jump, she has a slanted axis in air, she under-rotates, had a wobbly and shaky landings possibly two-footed, stepped out of a jump, AND she takes off on the wrong edge (inner edge) on Lutz (called a flutz, or cheating lutz). In the past, she has been called on this and recieved wrong edge calls and got negative GOEs but not in Sochi. If you look at her lutz in slow motion, you can see that she prepares for the jump with the correct outer edge but actually jumps/takes off the ice with the inner edge. Furthermore, the Triple Toeloop in combination with the Lutz was underrotated. She was rewarded for this wrong jump with GOEs. And the step-out mistake that got -0.9GOE?
    According to the rule books, it should have been -2 or -3. Also, Sotnikova recieved level 4 for the step sequence while Yuna got level 3. (It should have been completely opposite) Just watch both their performances and look at the sequence yourself. Sotnikova just flings her arms around a lot and moves her free leg but does not have good speed or acceleration during it, no deep clean edges compared to Kim, lacks effortlessness and flow.
    AND, with respect to PCS, Sotnikova jumped almost 20 points in 6 months. That just does not happen. To quote Kurt Browning, “I was shocked. What, suddenly, she just became a better skater overnight? I don’t know what happened.”. Sotnikova, in the LP, did ATTEMPT a more difficult program but did not execute it properly to justify the grades she got.
    ARTISTRY COMES ONLY AFTER MASTERING SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES. Yuna kim wasn’t just a “ballerina on ice”. She delivered the perfect combination of athleticism and artistry and was not rewarded properly.

  16. asulliva - Mar 22, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    It is disheartening, although perhaps inevitable, that a brilliant evening of skating is overshadowed by controversy which erupted almost the moment Kim left the ice, the sad result being that many have labeled figure skating a non-sport due to the subjective nature of the scoring and even questioned its existence in the Olympics. It would truly be the downfall of skating if performance relied solely on a list of skills each competitor did or did not do with artistry dumped on the floor.

    Eclipsed by all the debate is Carolina Kostner’s illustrious performance, her amazing comeback story as well as her maturity and graciousness toward her fellow athletes. The first Italian to medal in the woman’s figure skating said of her bronze, “This is gold to me.” That is the true spirit of the Olympic games.

    • dasunaussprechliche - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Hello. Agree with you 100% on Carolina. But I don’t think the controversy only has to do with the subjective nature of scoring. People are saying that there are some objective measures set in place for scoring and Adelina’s score in particular doesn’t seem to reflect them very well. Sorry for the treatment that the seventeen-year old has been getting, but the real problem is the judges.

    • psummers890613 - Mar 25, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      Her maturity and graciousness as she hi fives with Sotnikova but completely ignore Yuna? It seemed to me she as actually quite jealous that Yuna delivered a clean program and she lost a chance at silver.

  17. asulliva - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    BTW, in my last comment, I wasn’t implying that Kim was in any way ungrateful for her medal. She, along with Carolina, has been a class act all the way. The whole thing has been a shame.

  18. dasunaussprechliche - Mar 22, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    It’s funny that four years ago some (Frank Carroll talking to the New York Times, I think) quibbled that Yuna was a technician out there to rack up points under the new scoring system, and now she is considered an artistic skater being challenged by an athletic skater. Of course, she’s obviously older and older athletes rely more on finesse than power, but I actually found this year’s performance more beautiful. I think Dick Button may have said something similar, as some folks clearly don’t want figure skating to be a jumping contest.

    But my point is not that you can’t please everyone. Rather, contrasting Yuna and Adelina in terms of artistry and athleticism is overdone: I’ve seen in enough places, in detail, that the overall technical difficulties of the their performances do not differ as much as some have claimed, and Adelina benefited just as much from likely undeserved artistic points and grade of execution points. Even to my untrained eyes, she was just less steady and effortless, and that can’t be a good thing even for a trained pair of eyes.

    As for the Korean Skating Union and the Korean Olympic Committee, this action is actually the least severe thing they could’ve done, because all that a complaint, as opposed to an appeal, can do is to reprimand judges for ethical breach. It is an evasive little move, just as asking for Yuna’s “consent” is an evasive move, as no such thing is needed. If they really wanted to protect their athletes, they should’ve acted quickly when the momentum was in their favor, instead of keep looking over their shoulders for possible repercussions (though KSU’s vice-president already resigned over the Ahn Hyun-soo fiasco, an overhaul probably ain’t happening).

  19. jessicarye88 - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    These Olympic judges turned ice skating into a circus. The scores were extremely rigged and it’s a shame my favorite sport is now riddled with corruption and favoritism. Giving Yuna Kim her deserved gold medal will be the first step in the right direction for our sport.

  20. figurefan90 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    It would be nice, if the line “Both skated clean programs” could be corrected, as mentioned from my previous comment. This is wrong information and misleading. This is important because it is why the score is told to be rigged and controversial.

    • figurefan90 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:43 PM

      Of course there are also many other issues (ex. GOE, PCS etc), which makes the score rediculous.

  21. vivagelato - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    The scoring for the reigning world champion, Kim Yuna, conjures up memories of the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci trying to repeat as a gold medalist in the Moscow Summer games of 1980 in the all-around and floor exercise competitions.There was controversy in the scoring, much as there is in another Olympics held in Russia.

    In the best case scenario, the ISU will replace it’s suspect tech panel and judges with neutral individuals. In reality, the ISu will say they looked into the matter and couldn’t find anything wrong. If the tech panel and judges score Japanese skaters (especially Mao Asada if she skates-how did the Russian skater get a better score in the free skate?) at the World Skating Championships held in Japan this week the way they did in Sochi, they may need to sneak out of the country.

  22. jamesduffue324 - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    The 2014 Sochi Olympic Ladies Figure Skating results are a complete fraud. Adelina Sotnikova’s win was the product of Putin’s bribery and the fat Russian coach’s dictatorship within the Figure Skating world.
    Sotnikova should really be ashamed. She was and never will be up to par with the other skaters like Kostner, Kim, or Asada.

  23. brendamiller15 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Clearly Nick doesn’t understand the basics of figure skating. Sotnikova’s skating was clean? GET REAL.

  24. jamesduffue324 - Apr 16, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Sotnikova will always be known as a cheater.

  25. mckenzie4351 - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    There is no future for Sotnikova, she will never redeem herself as an Olympic champion because she stole the title from Yuna Kim.
    And nick, please change this picture of Yuna. I know you don’t like her but you make you articles way to biased. It’s pretty clear where you get your pay check…

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