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International Skating Union issues statement on judging system

Adelina Sotnikova

Adelina Sotnikova of Russia competes in the women’s free skate figure skating finals at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Bernat Armangue

With yet another debate on figure skating’s judging system underway after Adelina Sotnikova’s upset of Yuna Kim in the Olympic ladies’ competition last night, the International Skating Union has issued a statement on the matter.

The statement is as follows:

The ISU is strongly committed to conducting performance evaluations strictly and fairly and has adequate procedures in place to ensure the proper running of the sporting competitions. The officiating judges were selected by random drawing from a pool of 13 potential judges. All judges in an event represent different ISU member federations. The Ladies’ free skating panel included judges from Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. To avoid exaggerated markings, the highest and the lowest scores entered by the judges are excluded to produce the final score. The technical panel determines the elements of each performed program. The judges add a mark, grading the quality of the skater’s execution of the elements so identified. The technical marks and the artistic presentation marks are added together to produce the final score of the skater.

The ISU has not received any official protest with regard to the Ladies’ Free Skating event or any other event held during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and is confident in the high quality and integrity of the ISU judging system.

Sotnikova earned a free skate score that was almost six points higher than that of Kim, enabling her to become the first Russian to win the ladies’ gold in front of a raucous home crowd.

The result was a relatively surprising one, and it caused U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner to demand that “people need to be held accountable” and that the sport get rid of anonymous judging.

Over one million people have also signed a petition asking for an “open investigation” into the judging process.

The ISU’s current system was adopted in 2004 following the pairs’ figure skating scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. It became mandatory at all international competitions starting in the 2006 season, which included that year’s Torino Olympics.

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