I do think it's kind of interesting that the rumors of corruption and intrigue start bubbling up when the scores are so close. It seems to me that if one competitor were way, way the hell ahead of everyone else, that would be a LOT more suspicious. That was pretty much the way it was in Vancouver, when Yuna Kim (or however she's transliterating her name these days) beat Mao Asada by 23.06 points. If I were a suspicious-minded type of person, that would lead me to believe that somebody REEEEEEEEALLY wanted to make sure she won. And yet, no one seemed to make that connection at the time, and no one else seems to have made it since. Instead, everybody was quibbling about the point and a half separating Evan Lysacek and that Russian guy with the bad back.[*](Speaking of whom, I suddenly remember that he won gold in Torino by an almost absurdly large margin. I don't specifically remember the talk that occurred at the time, but I seem to remember that there was some. I'm beginning to fear that there always will be SOME talk from now on. *sigh*)
I said it four years ago when it was Plushenko making noise, and I'll say it again now that it's one of our Americans shooting off her fat mouth: there is a procedure in place for those with legitimate concerns to lodge a formal complaint, but there's a temporary window of opportunity in which to do so. Once that window closes, that's it; you had your chance, you blew it, and now it's out of your hands. Any chatter after that is fruitless and disrespectful to your competitors; moreover, it really reflects badly on you and your country. Ashley Wagner is now making the same types of whining noises that Plushenko made in Vancouver;[*](The specifics are different, but basically what is boils down to in each case is, "I didn't get the score I wanted; therefore, the judging MUST be rigged." How self-involved can you get?) the main difference is that this time it's reflecting badly on ME and MY country. In other words, this time it's personal.
I'm not saything there WASN'T something shady going on in Sochi.[*](Nor, for that matter, am I saying there was something shady going on in Vancouver or Torino.) I'm just saying that I didn't see anything suspicious last night; all I saw was a FANTASTIC night of figure skating and three eventual medalists who rose to the occasion in fine form. I was satisfied with the results, and if it turns out that there was something underhanded going on, I trust that the IOC and the ISU will deal with it accordingly.
Here's what it all boils down to: a couple of the judges had questionable credentials, and in the future, the ISU would do well to review their criteria and procedures for assigning judges, unless of course they WANT to keep dealing with this crap during every Olympics.[*](It's interesting to note that this kind of stuff never seems to come up during the annual figure skating competitions, only during the Olympics.) Scott Hamilton has some good suggestions in that regard.
With that said, the bottom line is this: The scoring holds up to scrutiny. It is entirely possible to analyze the technical marks and explain mathematically why Sotnikova won. Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski did an excellent job of breaking it in down in layman's terms during February 21st's primetime coverage; they did it even better than Scott Hamilton did. For that, I commend them.
Speaking on a personal level, Sotnikova's free skate dazzled me, and Kostner's free skate thrilled me. Yuna Kim's free skate, performed to an odd little piece of music that sometimes sounded like a cat walking across piano keys, failed to move me at all.[*](As opposed to her short program, a lovely interpretation of "Send in the Clowns," one of my all-time favorite songs. Although I must acknowledge that it was as much the music itself that affected me as the interpretation.) Nevertheless, I must commend Yuna Kim; she has been the calm at the center of the storm through all this, demonstrating nothing but grace and dignity in the face of all the sound and fury swirling around her. That is real sportsmanship, the mark of a true champion.
If there's one good thing to come out of all this nonsense, it's that it's given me a chance to make good on something that I said during the kerfuffle at the Vancouver Games. When Plushenko was doing his trash-tallking against Evan Lysacek, I said at the time that if the tables were turned and it was a Russian skater on the receiving end of the trash talking, I would support that skater just as I supported Lysacek. I believed it; I wouldn't have said it if I didn't believe it. But in my mind I had some lingering doubts: maybe I WAS biased in favor my fellow American,[*](who also happens to be a sexy, sexy man.) maybe my conviction wouldn't stand up to the test.
Now the tables have turned. Regardless of the final results, Sotnikova was one of my favorite competitors in the ladies' discipline, whereas trash-talking American Ashley Wagner is dead to me now. I'm sorry that the controversy happened, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to prove myself to myself. Yes, I love my country, but I love justice and integrity even more.
Congratulations, Adelina. And don't worry; I've got your back.