February 21, 2002

Russia threatens to pull out of the Olympics: and boycott the USA/Russia hockey game. All talk? Or is it a Great Western Capitalist Conspiracy against the Russians?

posted by mkn to other at 07:00 PM - 25 comments

What I find interesting is that they complained that Canadians were sore losers about the whole Sale/Pelletier thing, and then on the flip-side they pull something like this. Man, I had hoped it would be a good Olympics, but once again politics have ruined it all.

posted by mkn at 07:06 PM on February 21, 2002

Now the Koreans are getting in on the act. They want to sue over the Ohno reversal.

posted by srboisvert at 08:34 PM on February 21, 2002

I think it might be just be posturing to put pressure on the figure skating judges to favor Slutskaya (has anyone told her to change the spelling of her Americanized name?)

posted by gyc at 08:34 PM on February 21, 2002

What I find strangest is the way that Tyagachev sounds like some bad B-movie, Cold War-era Russian cyborg or something... (He's quoted repeatedly in the linked-on-MeFi ESPN article.) "[W]e have only so much patience." "[T]he Olympic Games will be lost." "We defend our honor." Maybe he's a Klingon.

posted by Marquis at 10:33 PM on February 21, 2002

Now that the unfortunately-named Slutskaya has been robbed of a gold in the women's figure skating -- the obvious premise being 'Michelle Kwan fell on her rear, so give it to the other American', though the NBC commentators wouldn't admit it -- I'd expect the Russians to pack up and leave before the end of tomorrow. Seriously.

posted by riviera at 10:52 PM on February 21, 2002

What's this with "Russian skater robbed"? She was one of my favourites, I was rooting for her -- and she turned in a stiff, awkward and technically compromised performance. She didn't have as many complex jumps at the American gold medallist, she almost fell on one jump, and her presentation was stiff and awkward. The other American skater was hands-down the best tonight. There was no robbery.

posted by maudlin at 10:55 PM on February 21, 2002

I hope you're kidding there, riviera. Michelle Kwan tumbled, Slutskaya screwed up two jumps, and the #2 American (who's name escapes me) didn't have a flawless performance either. The kid who won the gold (the #3 American, Hughes) skated a virtually perfect routine. Simple math won it for her. She had the best long performance, Slutskaya finished 2nd and Kwan finished third. In the end, Hughes and Slutskaya ended up tied in the ordinals (at 3.0), and the tie breaker is the long program, which Hughes won. Go here to see how it broke down. No real controversy in my mind. For the record, I'm Canadian and didn't give a damn who won. I have no interest in women's figure skating after the beautiful Josee Chouinard (The Human Zamboni) retired.

posted by grum@work at 11:08 PM on February 21, 2002

The other American skater was hands-down the best tonight. There was no robbery. Tonight, yes: but she was fourth after the short programme, if you hadn't noticed. The fix was in tonight, and even Sarah Hughes was aware of that, saying that she didn't expect the judges to decide things in her favour. The telling factor: the spread of marks on Slutskaya's routine was pretty extreme -- 5.6s alongside 5.9s -- allowing the American kiddiwink to sneak into the gold. Daylight robbery.

posted by riviera at 11:12 PM on February 21, 2002

Simple math won it for her. Um, skating math is never simple. Did you notice the run-down as Slutskaya's marks appeared? At least four judges ranked her first, but it was the couple of judges who ranked her third and even fourth (fourth? after Michelle Kwan fell over?) who won it for Hughes, with marks that were markedly different from the general consensus. There was no way that an American wasn't walking away with the gold tonight, and once Kwan fell over, there was only one winner. Sure, Hughes skated the routine of her life, but it shouldn't have been enough to win her the gold, given what had gone before.

posted by riviera at 11:17 PM on February 21, 2002

You can see the scoring at NBCOlympics.com (not sure how to link directly since it's all framed). It's interesting to note that the 4 judges that placed Slutskaya first placed Hughes 4th, 3rd, 4th, and 2nd, while the 5 judges that placed Hughes first placed Slutskaya 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd. Therefore, there doesn't seem to be the conspiracy that riviera suggests.

posted by gyc at 11:36 PM on February 21, 2002

Riviera, go read the link I posted (and the accompanying info on scoring). You'll see that the only way that Slutskaya could have won tonight was if she finished 1st in the free skate. Period. Every other scenario involving the top 4 skaters and how they placed in the free skate would have given the gold medal to someone else other than Slutskaya. If you try to tell me that she had the best skater of the top 4 (Hughes, Slutskaya, Kwan, Cohen) in the free skate tonight, you're just being silly. It's funny how you noticed that Slutskaya had a 4th place vote for her, but didn't want to mention that Hughes had 2 4th place votes. I guess that would kind of mess up your whole conspiracy theory. Especially since three of the judges that voted Slutskaya 1st in the free skate were the ones that voted Hughes 4th, 3rd, 4th. Considering the performances of stumble-bum Kwan and stiff-Slutskaya, there is no way that Hughes should have gotten that many sub-2nd votes. If you want to point fingers and yell "Fix!", you should start with those three judges.

posted by grum@work at 11:37 PM on February 21, 2002

Did you actually watch the competition, Riviera? I seriously doubt it. Kwan and Slutskaya were both good, but their jumps were extremely low and tight. That alone gave Hughes the presentation scores to win the gold. Hughes also had the added benefit of footwork immediately preceeding a jump. Slutskaya and Kawn seemed to both stall and wait for the jumps in their routines. I'm no expert or even a fan, but Hughes' routine was far more exciting and active than the others. A flawless, risky routine beats a conservative, flawed routine every time.

posted by ttrendel at 12:59 AM on February 22, 2002

Maybe just a survey question here, but when anyone here saw Sarah Hughes did they instantly think "One time at band camp...." or was it just me?

posted by ttrendel at 01:04 AM on February 22, 2002

Sarah Hughes reminded me of a muppet. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's her mop of hair. She really needs to grow her hair out and get a new stylist.

posted by gyc at 01:07 AM on February 22, 2002

All I know is the whole thing confused the living shit out of me. And the most irritating skater on the ice all evening skated away with the gold. Maybe it's just me, but I find her extremely annoying. Then again, I was rooting for the feisty little spitfire Cohen, or even Slutskaya for her great attitude about the whole ordeal. Yes, Hughes skated a flawless performance, but her demeanor leaves me devoid of any emotion for her aptitude. My personal issues with her aside, I did notice that Kwan and Slutskaya seemed to be pretty apprehensive going into their jumps, and the one thing I can't stand about watching female figure skating is how there seems to be a 10-second delay between any foot movement whatsoever and a jump. I understand you're setting yourself up for a huge feat of athleticism, but throw in some arm movements, do something, anything. Maybe that's why I enjoy watching the guys skate more. And it's not just because I think they're a helluva lot prettier, either...

posted by evixir at 01:13 AM on February 22, 2002

I can understand why the Russians are getting a little antsy. The ice pairs reversal was a disgrace, and a real slap in the face to the Russian pair, who had done nothing wrong. What really annoyed me is that the Canadians were awarded a gold medal before any sort of official review or inquiry had been carried out.

posted by salmacis at 03:01 AM on February 22, 2002

There's that Commie Talk again, Salmacis. We're watching you.

posted by Samsonov14 at 08:07 AM on February 22, 2002

I'm with Samsonov (though I do question his commie name). Salmacis, it wasn't a reversal... the Russians have a gold medal. And I don't remember anyone slapping them in the face, questioning their ethics or claiming they did anything wrong. By nearly all accounts this controversy was confined to the judges and the sport in general. The skaters were left out of it entirely.

posted by 86 at 08:25 AM on February 22, 2002

86: It sure was a reversal. By awarding two gold medals, the IOC have effectively said that the judges got it wrong. By implication, the Russians didn't deserve their gold medal. The skaters were not left out of this at all. I have read an interview in which their disappointment - and anger - was clear.

posted by salmacis at 09:53 AM on February 22, 2002

Did you actually watch the competition, Riviera? I seriously doubt it. Is that your best effort at sarcasm, ttrendal? I seriously suspect it is. Yes, I watched the competition. And perhaps that's part of the problem: as the pairs showed, there appears to be tremendous media pressure to dish out the medals based entirely on the long programme, and the scores that the judges came up with last night seemed skewed to ensure that result. In which case, you might as well dispense with the comps and short programme, or have them simply as 'qualifiers' with everything set to zero for the final televisual spectacular. And yes, evixir, Hughes is definitely a made-for-NBC muppet.

posted by riviera at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2002

But it is based almost entirely on the long program, since it's worth twice as much as the short. And the math seems pretty simple to me. Hughes was 4th in short and 1st in long, which gives her a combined score of 4 * 0.5 + 1 = 3.0. Slutsakaya was 2nd and 2nd, for a combined score of 2 * 0.5 + 2 = 3.0. Kwan was 3rd and first, for a combined score of 3 * 0.5 + 1 = 3.5. Lowest score wins, ties go to who had better rank in long program.

posted by Smackfu at 10:22 AM on February 22, 2002

You got me, Smackfu. Anyway, bowing out from this: Robin Cousins on why Slutskaya should have won, and a good comment from MeFi on the triumph of cutesy showmanship over actual technical ability.

posted by riviera at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2002

Come on people. We all know that after Skategate, the Russians would try to find a way to get back, and what's a better stage than to lodge a formal protest in the women's singles? And indeed it was close. I sided with the Russians on the pairs, but this time, it was definitely Sarah's night. I personally think both sides should never have started any sort of protest, since I thought the judging in both competitions were reasonable. But, there is the need for sensationalism, and what's an Olympics without the scandals?

posted by dai at 11:22 AM on February 22, 2002

folks, figure skating by the very nature of the competition is biased and subjective [tangent]that's why I really don't watch it and have been praying for the day NBC loses the Olympic broadcasting rights so less broadcasting time is devoted (wasted?) on figure skating(dinner theatre?)[/tangent]. I happened to watch most of the competition last night because my gf was over and not much else was worth watching on TV. Arguing over who should have won is silly beyond words. By the competition's very nature, the performer who the judges picked to win should have won.

posted by srw12 at 11:27 AM on February 22, 2002

"I can understand why the Russians are getting a little antsy." Huh? I can't. According to my score, the Russians were bending elbows to get their pairs the gold and their star X-country skiier was caught with an elevated red blood cell level, almost certainly from the use of EPO. While I doubt the Russians are the only dirty team at these games, I find it laughable that they can seriously get up there and say their honour is assaulted when all that has happened is that they have been caught cheating. Anyhoo, if they do pack up and leave, that just means one less good team between the canadian men's hockey team and the gold.

posted by CapnSwing at 01:12 PM on February 22, 2002

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