Figure skater Ashley Wagner has launched a blistering attack over the controversial result of the Winter Olympic women’s singles competition, calling for an overhaul of the sport and its judging process.
Adelina Sotnikova won Russia’s first ever Olympic gold in the ladies’ event, taking the honours ahead of favourite Kim Yu Na and Italy’s Carolina Kostner.
However, the result left a bitter taste in the mouths of many, who argue Kim should have been awarded higher scores for a flawless routine while Sotnikova was not penalised enough despite appearing to put a trailing foot down during her free programme.
Another Russian, Yulia Lipnitskaya, fell twice during her routine but still finished fifth, two places ahead of Wagner in seventh, and the American could not hold back her frustration at the result.
“I feel gypped,” said Wagner, who avoided falls in both her short and free programmes.
“People don’t want to watch a sport where you see people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean. It is confusing and we need to make it clear for you.
“To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it. People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can’t depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable.”
I am so proud to have had the opportunity to represent #TeamUSA tonight. Thank you. I can go home with my head held high!— Ashley Wagner (@AshWagner2010) February 20, 2014
It was Kim’s failure to win gold which caused the most controversy, with the announcement of the result producing audible gasps of surprise and pockets of jeering in the Iceberg Skating palace.
The South Korean, who was also the defending champion, announced her retirement shortly afterwards, although she refused to criticise either her fellow competitors or the sport in general.
Kim said: “I didn’t watch the skaters so I didn’t know about the other scores or how they skated. I can’t do anything about this. I did all I could.”
However, the Korean media reacted with anger and disbelief to the outcome, with Yonhap news agency saying: “Experts, fans up in arms over Sochi figure skating judging”, adding: “The final results left many experts scratching their heads.”
Newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, meanwhile, ran the headline “Was Kim Yu-Na robbed of rightful Olympic gold?” above an article which scrutinised the judges’ individual scores and attempted to highlight apparent discrepancies between Kim’s marks and those of Sotnikova.
There were nine judges casting their eye over the skaters on Thursday night. All the judges are named beforehand and a breakdown of the scores are freely available to view, however, the marks remain anonymous.
That is something Wagner feels needs addressing by the International Skating Union. The American was left angered by Sotnikova’s success but claimed she had expected it.
“I am speechless,” Wagner said. “The crowd was very supportive of the Russians, so to be a Russian figure skater must have been absolutely incredible to get out there ... period.”
She added: “They need to get rid of the anonymous judging.There are many changes that need to come to this sport if we want a fan base, because you can’t depend on this sport to always be there when you need it.
“The sport in general needs to become more dependable.
“I came into this event knowing pretty well that that (the result) was how it was going to go.
“It’s not fair to the skaters who work so hard to become noticed if they’re not going to have a sport that backs up what they are doing.”