South Korea Embraces Anonymous Judging at ISU Congress (ISU 총회에서 한국이 익명 심판제를 끌어안다)

June 13, 2014

Written by Beverley Smith, translated by 원더키디

한글은 여기

Say what? Are you kidding me? Are you really reading that headline correctly? Say it isn’t so!

But it is. South Korea, the country that presented a petition with two million signatures protesting the results of the women’s event at the Sochi Olympics – and which certainly wasn’t served well by anonymous judging – voted to keep it at the Congress, held in Dublin, Ireland this past week.

The proposal intending to do away with anonymous judging which has so frustrated and angered skating fans for the past 15 years or so, needed a two-thirds majority to pass at the ISU Congress. And the vote was very close, according to sources: 30 voted in favour of banning it, 24 were in favour of keeping it and two willy-nilly members abstained altogether. How can you not have an opinion on it?

Why is it so important to do away with anonymous judging? Originally, it was brought in supposedly to keep federations from pressuring judges at events, like the Salt Lake City Olympics. In reality, having such a clause isn’t going to stop federations from pressuring their own judges anyway. And the optics of it are terrible: it’s not transparent. Nobody can dispute results. Nobody can call things into question. It looks like a coverup. If there is anything that really bugged fans and people in the sport, it was this anonymous judging thing.

Case in point: The ISU disciplinary committee, in their ruling into the South Korean protest of the women’s Olympic event, were told by the ISU’s Officials’ Assessment Committee that the scores of Russian judge Alla Shekhovtseva were “within the acceptable range of scores.” Her judging therefore was not considered “unacceptable.” She got no assessment from them, with the panel deeming that her work was neither “biased nor partial to the Russian skater Sotnikova.”

I guess we have to take their word for it. We don’t know what this acceptable corridor was. Nor do we know which countries created it. In the old 6.0 days, the majority rule wasn’t always correct. A good referee would look at results of all judges and sometimes declare that a judge who was out of line had actually judged the event correctly and the others had missed it (or were perhaps colluding.) Everybody could learn how to be better from it.

While the fan base for skating is not in any way in trouble in Japan or South Korea, it is in other parts of the world, where skaters sometimes perform in empty rinks and TV deals aren’t what they used to be. This anonymous judging thing is vitally important to the future of the sport. Trust has been disappearing.

So what countries voted to do away with anonymous judging at the Congress? The ones you’d expect, mostly: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Britain, Hungary, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Boznia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and a little more surprising: Russia, which has been well served by anonymous judging.

Countries that voted to keep anonymous judging, according to sources close to the Congress were: Austria, Sweden, Finland, Germany, both North and South Korea, all southeast Asian nations, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Georgia, Poland and Slovakia.

It’s entirely distressing to see countries like Sweden, Austria, Germany and South Korea voting to keep anonymous judging. Perhaps some members just don’t understand the implications? Do they want to keep judges’ scores secret? Why? What could possibly by in it for South Korea, especially with the 2018 Olympics coming up? The nobleness of their petition regarding the women’s event at the Olympics – at first they didn’t ask for medals to be reassigned, only that results be investigated “immediately and transparently” to ensure fair judging in the future – takes a bit of a hit, knowing that they want anonymous judging. It’s hard to comprehend. Open judging could have helped their case against the results of the Sochi event.

The Koreans must have been entirely frustrated in their protest and petition to the ISU. It certainly fell on deaf ears. First they were told that their original protest for a general investigation was outside the jurisdiction of the ISU disciplinary committee, who said a complaint must be directed at an individual or a federation. The committee invited South Korea to answer this. In total, it took South Korea 69 days to file the second one, against Shekhovtseva as the offender. Russia complained, because rules say you must protest within 60 days of the event. The committee countered, saying they had invited the Koreans to take a second crack at the problem and the second complaint was an amendment of the first.

Perhaps the Koreans should have thought more carefully about what they needed to take on. The new Korean complaint apparently dealt only with Shekhovtseva’s embrace of Adelina Sotnikova after the event was over. The problem with going after Shekhovtseva was that there are apparently no rules that prohibit her from judging, even if her husband is Russian federation director-general Valentin Piseev, according to the ISU. None of the rules apply to a family relationship, and Shekhovtseva and her husband weren’t officiating in the same event, the panel said. Perhaps it should. Isn’t that the spirit of ethics? (And no, perhaps federation presidents shouldn’t be judging their own skaters, as happens in other countries, which may not have enough judges to do so, by the way.)

The committee did note that “it would be obvious and reasonable to assume that she was under the influence of and had an emotional connection to the FSFR [Russian federation] in the pursuit of glory that a gold medal would bring to FSFR in an Olympic competition held in Russia. In a glaring testimony to the interest Shekhovtseva would have in the outcome of the competition, Shekhovtseva was seen embracing Sotnikova backstage …..”

Yet, the panel unravelled those assumptions. It differentiated between a judge on duty and off duty. (Who is ever “off duty” in ethics situations?) And they figured that Shekhovtseva was off-duty when she embraced Sotnikova. And the skater initiated the embrace, not Shekhovtseva. “A violation of the ISU rules requires a deliberate act,” the panel said in its decision. “The Alleged Offender [better known as Shekhovtseva], did not deliberately or negligently breach the rules. She responded reflexively.”

Boy they were splitting hairs. At the end of the day, the marks just didn’t make sense, and didn’t match what was seen on the ice.

The biggest question is: why didn’t South Korea ask the ISU to look into the actions of the technical controller, Alexander Lakernik, who is also a vice-president of the Russian federation? “Even a blind person could see the wrong edge of Sotnikova on her Lutz,” said one observer. “Except the technical controller and the technical specialist for whom the edges were correct. Nobody complained.”

The ISU should have appointed a special committee to verify the marks awarded by the judges and to have examined them. The rules allow this. The “extra” panel could have opened the mark vaults and evaluated them. But no, it’s easier for the ISU to ignore problems, especially if they want to avoid ruffling the feathers of Russia, a powerful voter in elections.

All in all, a sad day in the skating world.

뭐라고? 지금 농담하는 거냐고? 저 헤드라인을 정말로 정확하게 읽고 있는 거야? 그렇지 않다고 말해 줘!

그러나 사실이다. 한국, 소치 올림픽 여자 (싱글 스케이팅) 경기 결과에 항의하는 2백만 명의 서명을 모은 청원을 제출한 나라가 - 그리고 심판 역명제의 혜택을 입지 못한 게 확실한 나라가 - 이번주 아일랜드 더블린에서 열린 총회에서 심판 익명제를 유지하자는 쪽에 표를 던졌다.

지난 15년여 동안 피겨 스케이팅 팬들을 너무나도 좌절하게 만들고 분노하게 만들어온 심판 익명제를 폐지할 목적으로 제출된 이 안건은 ISU 총회에서 통과되려면 3분의 2 과반수가 필요했었다. 그리고 소식통들에 의하면, 표결 결과는 (찬반이) 아주 근소하게 나왔다: 30개국 연맹이 심판 익명제를 금지하자는 쪽에 찬성표를 던진 반면, 24개국 연맹이 심판 익명제를 존속시키자는 쪽에 찬성했다. 그리고 우유부단한 2개 연맹이 기권을 했다. 어떻게 이것에 대해 의견이 없을 수 있지?

심판 익명제를 폐지하는 것이 왜 그렇게 중요한 거냐고? 처음에, 심판 익명제는, 추측건대, 솔트레이크 시티 올림픽처럼, 각국 연맹이 시합에서 (자국 소속의) 심판들에게 압력을 가하지 못하도록 하기 위해 도입되었다. 현실적으로, 그런 조항이 있다고 해서 각국 연맹들이 자국 소속의 심판들에게 어떤 식으로든 압력을 행사하는 것을 막지는 못할 것이다. 그리고 그것을(심판 익명제가 실행되는 걸) 보는 것은 끔찍하다: 투명하지 않다. 누구도 결과에 대해 이의를 제기할 수 없다. 누구도 의문을 제기할 수 없다. 그것은 마치 은폐공작처럼 보인다. 만약 팬들과 이 종목의 사람들을 정말로 귀찮게 괴롭힌 어떤 것이 존재한다면, 바로 이 심판 익명제라는 녀석이었다.

좋은 예: 여자 올림픽 경기에 대한 한국의 항의를 판결하면서, ISU 징계위원회는 러시아 심판 알라 셰호프체바의 점수가 "용인할 수 있는 점수의 범위 안에" 있었다는 말을 ISU의 직원[직무] 사정위원회(ISU's Officials' Assessment Committee)로부터 들었다.

따라서 (ISU징계위원회는) 그녀의 판정을 "용인할 수 없는" 것으로 간주하지 않았다. 그녀가 그들로부터 어떤 사정(司正) 평가도 받지 않았음에도, 징계위원회의 배심원단은 그녀의 직무 수행이 "러시아 스케이터 소트니코바 쪽으로 치우치지도 편파적이지도" 않았다고 평가했다.

우리가 그들의 말을 믿는 수밖에 없다고 나는 생각한다. 용인할 수 있는 점수 편차의 폭이 얼마였는지 우리는 알지 못한다. 구 6.0점제 시대에, 다수결의 원칙이 항상 옳았던 것은 아니다. 훌륭한 레프리라면 모든 저지들의 점수 결과들을 살펴보고 대열에서 벗어난 한 심판이 실제로는 그 시합을 정확하게 판정한 것이고 나머지 심판들이 의무를 다하지 못했다고 (또는 어쩌면 공모하고 있다고) 선언하곤 한 적도 간혹 있었다. 그것으로부터 어떻게 하면 더 나아질 수 있는지 모든 사람들이 배울 수 있었다.

일본이나 한국에서는 피겨 스케이팅 팬베이스가 전혀 문제를 겪고 있지 않지만, 세계의 다른 지역들은 문제를 겪고 있다. (한국과 일본을 제외한) 다른 나라들에서 스케이터들은 때때로 텅빈 링크에서 공연을 하고, 텔레비전 중계 계약도 예전만 못하다. 심판 익명제라는 이 물건은 이 스포츠의 미래에 사활에 관계될 만큼 극히 중요하다. 신뢰가 계속해서 사라져오고 있는 중이다.

그러면 어떤 나라들이 총회에서 심판 익명제 폐지에 찬성했는가? 대부분, 여러분이 기대함직한 나라들이다: 호주, 벨기에, 캐나다, 중국, 덴마크, 프랑스, 영국, 헝가리, 일본, 노르웨이, 스위스, 미국, 안도라, 아르헨티나, 아르메니아, 보스니아 헤르체고비나, 크로아티아, 그리스, 아이슬란드, 아일랜드, 모나코, 네덜란드, 뉴질랜드, 세르비아, 슬로베니아, 남아프리카 공화국, 스페인, 터키, 우크라이나, 그리고 약간 더 놀랍게도, 심판 익명제에 의한 이득을 누려온 러시아.

총회 현장에 가까이 있었던 정보통에 의하면, 심판 익명제를 유지하자는 쪽에 표를 던진 나라들은: 오스트리아, 스웨덴, 핀란드, 독일, 남·북한 둘 다 (both North and South Korea), 동남아 국가들 모두, 라트비아, 리투아니아, 벨라루스, 조지아, 폴란드, 슬로바키아.

(NOTE: 구소련 블럭 동유럽 국가들 중에서, 소치스캔들의 주범 또는 공범으로 지목받고 있는 러시아와 우크라이나를 제외한 국가들이 아르메니아만 빼고 모두 심판 익명제 폐지에 반대표를 던짐. 러시아가 정말로 심판 익명제 폐지를 원했다면, 자신들의 영향력 아래에 있는 구소련 블럭 국가들도 폐지 안건에 찬성하도록 영향력을 행사하고도 남았을 텐데... 전혀 그렇게 하지 않았습니다. 왜 그랬을까요? 러시아가 제 손으로 심판익명제 폐지 안건을 제출해 놓고도, 자기들의 영향력 아래 있는 다른 연맹들에게, 이 문제에 한해서만큼은, 전혀 영향력을 행사하지 않다니... 말이 안 되지요. 암튼, 러시아의 의도가 무엇이었든, 현재로서는 피겨 스케이팅 월드에서 러시아보다 한국(빙연)이 더 큰 조롱의 대상이 된 것만은 부정할 수 없습니다...ㅠ.ㅠ)

한편, 북한이 심판 익명제에 찬성한 것은 소치스캔들과는 별개로 자신들의 이익을 고려한 것으로, 국제대회에서 어떤 심판이 북한 선수에게 다른 나라 출전자들보다 높은 점수를 주면서 자신의 실명을 드러내기를 원할까요. 북한으로서는 심판익명제가 0.1점이라도 더 받는 데 도움이 된다고 생각할 수밖에 없습니다. 그러나 북한의 투표는 한국 빙연의 의지에 따라 얼마든지 바뀔 수 있었을 거라는 게 해외팬들의 지적입니다.)

스웨덴, 오스트리아, 독일, 한국 같은 나라들이 심판 익명제를 유지하자는 쪽에 표를 던진 것을 보게 되다니 완전 비통하다. 어쩌면 일부 회원국들은 (심판 익명제 폐지가) 함축하는 의미들을 그냥 이해하지 못하는 걸까? 그들은 심판들의 점수가 비밀로 유지되기를 원하는 것일까? 왜? 심판 익명제를 유지하는 것이 한국한테 뭔가 있을 수 있을까, 특히 2018 올림픽이 다가오고 있다는 점에서? (소치) 올림픽 여자 경기와 관련한 그들의 청원의 고결함은 - 처음에, 그들은 메달들이 재배정될 것을 요구하지 않고, 미래의 공정한 판정을 보장하기 위해 "즉각적이고 투명하게" 판정 결과를 재조사할 것만 요구했었다 - 그들이 심판 익명제(의 유지)를 원한다는 것이 알려지면서, 조금 손상을 입었다. 납득하기 어렵다. 공개적인 판정이(심판 실명제가) 소치 경기의 결과들에 반대하는 그들의 케이스에 도움이 될 수 있었을 텐데 말이다.

한국인들은 ISU에 제기한 그들의 항의와 청원이 받아들여지지 않은 것에 완전히 좌절을 느꼈을 게 틀림없다. 그것은 확실히 들은 체 만 체 무시당했다. 처음에, 그들은 전체적인 조사를 요구한 그들의 최초의 항의는 ISU 징계위원회의 소관이 아니라는 말을 들었다. ISU 징계위원회는 제소에는 개인 또는 특정 연맹을 직접적으로 명시되어야 한다고 말했다. 징계위원회는 이것에 대해 응답할 것을 한국에 권했다. 다 합쳐서, 한국이 셰호프체바를 위반자로 지목하는 두 번째 제소를 제출하기까지는 69일이 걸렸다. (ISU의) 룰에 의하면 경기 후 60일 이내에 이의 제기[제소]를 해야 하기 때문에, 러시아는 불만을 제기했다. ISU 징계위원회 측에서 그 문제에 대해 한국에게 두 번째 기회를 주었고 두 번째 제소는 첫번째 제소를 수정한 것이었다고 말하면서, (러시아의 불만에) 징계위원회가 반박했다.

아마 한국은 (두 번째 제소장에서) 그들이 무엇을 문제삼을 필요가 있었던 것에 대해 더 신중하게 생각했어야 했다. 보기에, 새로 제출된 한국의 제소는 알라 셰호프체바가 경기가 끝난 뒤에 아델리나 소트니코바를 포옹한 것만을 다뤘다. 셰호프체바의 뒤꽁무니나 쫓는[= 셰호프체바를 표적으로 공격하는] 것의 문제점은, 설령 그녀의 남편이 러시아 빙연 총재인 발렌틴 피제프라고 할지라도, ISU에 따르면, 그녀의 심판 직무를 금지하는 규정이 전혀 존재하지 않는다는 것이다. 현행 규정으로는 어떤 규정도 family relationship에 저촉이 되지 않으며, 셰호프체바와 그녀의 남편이 같은 시합에서 직무를 수행하고 있었던 것도 아니라고 (징계위원회의) 배심원단은 말했다.

아마 그게 맞을 것이다. (그러나) 그것은 (룰의 문제라기보다는) 도덕의 정신에 관한 문제가 아닌가? (그리고 아니, 충분한 심판을 보유하고 있지 않을지도 모르는 다른 나라들에서도 그러는 것처럼, 아마 빙연 회장들은 자신들의 연맹에 소속된 스케이터들을 판정하는 심판 업무를 맡아서는 안 된다.)

징계위원회는 "러시아에서 열리는 올림픽 경기에서 금메달이 러시아 빙연에 가져다줄 영광을 추구하면서, 그녀가 러시아 빙연의 영향 아래 있고 러시아 빙연에 감정적인 커넥션을 느꼈을 거라고 추정하는 것은 명백하고 논리적일 것이다. 그 시합의 결과에서 셰호프체바가 가진 이해 관계를 역력하게 드러낸 증거에서, 셰호프체바가 백스테이지에서 소트니코바를 껴안는 것이 보여졌다 …."라고 지적했다.

그러나 징계위원회의 배심원단은 이 추정들을 (자기들이 직접) 해명해주었다. 그들은 심판이 직무 수행 중일 때와 직무에서 벗어났을 때를 구별지었다. 윤리학의(관점) 상황들에서 "직무에서 벗어난" 사람이 여태껏 누가 있을까?

(NOTE: ISU 징계위원회의 논리대로라면, 공무원은 퇴근 후에는 얼마든지 자신이 맡은 업무와 이해관계가 있는 기업인을 만나도 되고, 교사는 퇴근하는 순간 학교 앞에서 대로에서 지나가는 학생들이 보든 말든 무슨 짓을 해도 근무 시간이 아니기 때문에 상관이 없으며 성직자도 예배를 집전하는 근무시간이 아니면 무슨 짓을 해도 상관없다는 논리라는 뜻.)

그리고 그들은 셰호프체바가 소트니코바를 껴안았을 때 그녀의 근무 시간이 끝났을 때였다고 판단했다. 그리고 셰호프체바가 아니라 스케이터가 먼저 포옹을 시작했다. "ISU 룰의 위반에는 행위의 고의성이 요구된다,"라고 결정문에서 배심원단이 밝혔다. "위반 혐의가 있다고 주장된 피고는 [셰호프체바로 더 잘 알려져 있는] 고의적으로든 부주의에 의한 것이든 룰을 위반하지 않았다. 그녀는 반사적으로 반응한 것뿐이다."

아이고, 그들은 사소한 것을 너무 시시콜콜 따지고 있다. (정말로 따져봐야 하는 중요한 문제는) 그날의 경기가 끝났을 때, 점수들이 그저 말이 되지 않았던데다가 빙상에서 보여진 것과 매치하지 않았다는 것이다.

가장 큰 의문은: 왜 한국은 러시아 빙연 부회장이기도 한 테크니컬 콘트롤러 알렉산더 라커닉의 활동들을 조사할 것을 ISU에 요구하지 않은 것일까? "심지어 장님조차도 소트니코바의 러츠 롱에지를 볼 수 있었다,"고 한 옵저버가 말했다. "그 에지들이 정확했다고 본 테크니컬 콘트롤러와 테크니컬 스페셜리스트만 빼고 말이다. (그런데) 아무도 정식으로 문제 삼지 않았다."

ISU는 심판들에 의해 주어진 점수들을 확인할 특별위원회를 지정하고 그것들을 조사했어야 했다. 룰이 이것을 허용한다 [= 이것을 가능케하는 룰이 존재한다]. "특별(extra)" 패널이 점수 금고들을 열고 그것들을 사정 평가할 수도 있었다. 그러나 그렇게 하지 않았다, 문제들을 무시하는 것이 ISU한테는 더 쉬웠다.

총체적으로, 피겨 스케이팅 월드의 슬픈 날이다.

More on the Women's Controversy

Feb 22, 2014

Written by Beverley Smith

It’s unfortunate that the story about the women’s event wasn’t just about Adelina Sotnikova barrelling out of nowhere to prove a point: that she counted, that she should be noticed, that the Russian federation had taken her too lightly by not having her skate in the team event, with all the hype surrounding the 15-year-old wonderkid, Julia Lipnitskaia. Russia put all of its eggs in that wonderful little basket, but you know how bandwagons work.

That alone would have been a fabulous story of triumph for the forgotten Sotnikova, but the suspect judging in Sochi took that away from her, probably forever. Now, somehow, she’s made to answer to what those judges may have done, by all sorts of nastiness on her Facebook page. It will trail her for a long time. And it won’t be fun. And it won’t be her fault.

There has been so much chatter over the past couple of days and so many misunderstandings about what happened in the women’s event. There is no mistaking the fact that a Russian, Alexander Lakernik, was in charge of the technical panel and as controller, could overrule any of the decisions made by the specialists in awarding levels of difficulty – and those levels make a big difference in the point system.  (Olga Baranova, the assistant technical specialist from Finland, is by all accounts, quite good at her job.)

Who in their right mind in the ISU thought it a good idea to put a Russian in such control of an event, at an event in Russia? Intriguing things often happen at skating events in Russia, where the scores don’t always match what happens on the ice. Back in 1978, the International Skating Union suspended all judges from the Soviet Union for one year, because any attempt to suspend one at a time for nationalistic judging just didn’t seem to have any effect at stopping it.

And there’s no mistaking the fact that Ukrainian Yuri Balkov found his way onto a panel after the disgrace of the 1998 Olympics, where he was recorded listing the order of finish of the dance event to another judge. These sorts of people should never judge again, if the International Skating Union doesn’t want to embarrass itself, no less at a major event like the Olympics. You don’t see judges suspended any more. You see judges with marks against their names be demoted to a lower level, but they can work their way back up again. After all, Irina Nechkina, an Ajerbaijan judge who lives in Moscow, was taken off the dance panel at the Turin Olympics for some bad judging calls, but was back on it for Vancouver and Sochi in the dance event.

And there’s no mistaking the fact that Alla Shekhovtseva, married to the Russian federation president Valentin Piseev, somehow found her way onto that women’s panel. The name Alla, alone, sparks controversy. She’s always played an active role in judging circles and has always been very vocal about her opinions. And I’ll never forget the sight of her on a TV camera, embracing Sotnikova in the bowels of the rink after the kid won the gold medal. The optics are terrible.

At the Vancouver Olympics, Alla judged ice dancing, not the other events. She’d been a dance judge for years. And she played a huge role in Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin dancing to an aboriginal theme that sparked such controversy and drew condemnation from aboriginal groups around the world. Alla pushed for that routine, thought it marvellous, while other dance coaches in Russia, according to one, rolled their eyes and knew that was a program that could never win. Yet, Alla’s voice is strong and things got to the point that it was too late to change it.

Alla doesn’t judge dance any more because of an interesting turn of events in Russia, following the country’s embarrassment at the Vancouver Olympics, having won no gold medals at all in figure skating. High-ranking Russian politicians wanted heads to roll. Many Russians were hoping that Piseev would abdicate his post as president, feeling that he had neglected to develop skating at a time of tough economic change. Incredibly, Piseev announced that he was stepping down as president. Other notable Russians lined up to win the position, including Anton Sikharulidze, the Russian who won Olympic gold in Salt Lake City. Alexander Gorshkov (1976 Olympic champion in dance) stepped down from his long-time role as chairman of the ISU’s ice dance technical committee to take a run at the post as well.

But then everything changed at the last minute. Before the election, Piseev created a new position for himself in the federation, called something like director general. Gorshkov won the vote for president, but he also lost power. No longer did he sit with the ISU, but now he had to work under Piseev, who is still all-powerful in the Russian federation. When Sikharulidze heard about Piseev’s new position, he dropped out of the race for president, feeling that he would have to dance to Piseev’s tune.

More changes happened. Now there was a vacancy on the ISU dance technical committee. And Alla decided to run for it. She could not have run for it if Gorshkov was still on the ISU committee.  With him out of the way, she got a seat on the technical committee. It meant she could no longer judge ice dancing.

But it does mean she can judge the other disciplines. And there she was, in Sochi, judging the women’s event.

Much is being made of two things: that France was on that dance panel, too, and after all, wasn’t a French judge conspiring with Russians at the scandal of the Salt Lake City Olympics? However, just because France did it once, doesn’t mean they did it again. Apparently they had something to gain at Salt Lake City: a gold medal in ice dancing. In Sochi, France did not have a medal contender in the women’s event. And it doesn’t mean that all French judges work the way that Marie La Gougne did in 2002. There are lots of good, honest judges in France.


And the old eastern block thing? That wasn’t always a given. One former Russian competitor once told me that judges from the Soviet Union and its satellites used to make agreements on placements, but the block didn’t always sit in solidarity. The Soviet powers always tried to negotiate, he said, and it didn’t always work. People are different. Some are strong. Some are weak to suggestion. “Some of them could be frightened into doing it,” he said.

And the old block theory? That was necessary under the old system, when the winner was decided on a majority of votes. Now it’s not so necessary. Although the more the merrier, one judge can affect the results. Two can certainly make a difference. And hey, look at those wicked GOE marks that came from two judges for almost all of Sotnikova’s elements. All of those +3s helps to bump up the marks. And witness the low GOE that Yuna Kim got from one judge in particular for almost all of her elements. A string of +1s helps put distance between the two skaters, point by point. And those points all add up, particularly if you lose levels of difficulty, too. Just like in the short program, Kim was awarded only level three on the same two elements: layback spin and footwork sequence. No, Kim didn’t do as many jump elements as Sotnikova, but she should have been able to maximize what she did through 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.

Much is also being made of the fact that Sotnikova stumbled out of the last double jump of a three-jump combination. Geez, say some, she shouldn’t have won because of that, while Kim made no such stumbles. The current judging system doesn’t work that way. You get points for what you do accomplish and it all adds up. A stumble will take away some GOE points, but you can make up for it with other elements.

The real wild cards in the scoring system are the GOE, the levels of diffciulty and the program components of the presentation marks that include skating skills, transition and linking footwork and movement; performance and execution, choreography and composition, and interpretation. For one thing, I don’t think Sotnikova interpreted her music with the subtlety shown by Kim, Carolina Kostner and Mao Asada. Asada got some tough performance marks too. For a skilled artist, it’s hard to believe she got a mark as low as 7.50 from one judge, the same judge who didn’t give her more than 8.50.

Yes, it’s the program component marks that bother me the most, putting Sotnikova only fractions of a point behind Kim and a couple of points ahead of Kostner. Those marks just don`t make sense. Are we supposed to be impressed by a skater waving at a crowd, to get them stirred up, as Sotnikova did? It’s fun, and a nice moment, but does “Habanera” warrant it? Did we see a touch of “Habanara” in her movement? What we saw was an exciting display of athleticism.

It doesn`t seem like the International Skating Union or the International Olympic Committee is listening. They watch and don`t understand the more ethereal parts of artistry and beauty of the blade and body movement. IOC spokesman Mark Adams thinks all the hubbub about Sotnikova’s marks is  “hypothetical” at this point and “my personal point of view would be to congratulate a fantastic performance,” he said.  He admits he doesn’t know much about skating.

Behind the scenes, Kim was in tears, bewildered about what had just happened. The South Koreans have started a world-wide online petition, asking not for a gold medal for Kim, because the medal isn’t important to her. They are only asking for fairness and an investigation into what happened. It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask. People want transparency. They don’t want to walk away from the Olympics with doubt in their minds, like they did at Salt Lake City.