When Evgeni Plushenko's coach declared that the "criminal" judges had robbed his skater of his "destiny", I shrugged it off. Sour grapes, to be sure, but pretty tame in terms of accusations in the sometimes crooked world of international figure skating judging.
But in the wake of Evan Lysacek's surprise gold medal win Thursday night, a groundswell of voices have emerged, not claiming any corruption on the part of the judges, but rather that the sport's judging standards need to be reevaluated . Most prominent among them is Elvis Stojko, a former Olympic figure-skating champion himself, who laments what he sees as the promotion of artistry over athleticism in his sport:
How can you be Olympic champion when you don’t even try the quad? If you’re going to take the quad out, why not take out another triple axel and just have more of the other stuff so the International Skating Union can make it more into an “art” recital.
Plushenko had a great performance. His footwork was great and maybe his spins weren’t quite as good as Lysacek’s, but it wasn’t that big of a difference. He also had a quad toe triple toe that wasn’t even attempted by anyone else. He did both triple axels, so all the jumps were there.
But the judges’ scoring was ridiculous. [...]
I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade because it’s not the skaters’ fault. It’s the system. And the figure skating community wants to control who wins and who loses. And what it does is it makes the component score more valid than the jumps so it can control whatever it wants.
To be fair, Maggie Hendricks points out that Lysacek and Plushenko did receive the same artistic score, meaning that Lysacek did in fact win on the merits of his jumps. Whether he should have been penalized for not attempting a more challenging program is another question entirely though.