Skaters dismiss report of collusion between Russia, USA
SOCHI, Russia – Twelve years after the judging scandal in figure skating that rocked the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, at least a report of judges in collusion entered the mix during the team competition Saturday night at the Sochi Olympics.
The French magazine L'Equipe reported earlier in the day that a deal was in place between judges from Russia and the USA to help Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White in ice dancing – at the expense of 2010 Canadian Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir – and thereby help Russia win the gold in the first Olympic team event.
Saturday night, Davis and White finished first in the ice dancing short program in the team event with 75.98 points. Virtue and Moir were second with 72.98 points. Both teams were peppered afterward with questions about the L'Equipe report.
"That's the first time we're hearing that so that's unfortunate that there's an article," said Davis. "But we're so focused on our jobs, and we really don't know a whole lot about anything else. I think we're confident that what we're putting out on the ice kind of speaks for itself."
White echoed that: "We don't really let any sort of external factors … play any sort of equation to what we're doing or what we're expecting. … We're here to do our job, and it's the Olympics."
Russia went into Saturday night with the team lead, followed by Canada. The USA was tied for fifth. The L'Equipe report was attributed to an unnamed Russian coach.
"The best thing about being an athlete at the Olympic Games is that's none of our concern," said Canada's Moir. " … Our goal is just go out there and kind of make a tribute to our career and the training we've done this year and make all Canadians and figure skating proud."
Said Virtue: "That's sort of out of our control. We have to take care of our job on the ice and focus on the task at hand.''
Barbara Reichert, director of communications for U.S. Figure Skating, issued a statement: "Comments made in a L'Equipe story are categorically false. There is no 'help' between countries. We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture.''
Mike Slipchuk, High Performance Director, Skate Canada, weighed in with a statement: "We were made aware of the article from L'Equipe today and we feel it is best not to comment on it. Canada is confident that the results of the competition will be determined where they should be, on the ice."
The 2002 Olympic scandal, which involved Russia, Canada and the pairs competition, resulted in a total restructuring of the scoring and judging system in figure skating.