When Adelina Sotnikova of Russia won the gold medal in women's figure skating over South Korea's Yuna Kim on Thursday night, it was the signature moment of the Sochi Games for the host nation. For many skating fans, however, it was a serious injustice. With accusations of inflated scores for Russian skaters and several judges having questionable backgrounds, Sotnikova's win has been seen as both the skate of her life and a potential injustice towards Kim.
[Photos: Adelina Sotnikova dethrones Yuna Kim]
Enough people are upset about the result to have banded together to force change. At Change.org, a website where people can start and sign petitions to correct injustices in politics, sports or elsewhere, more than 1.6 million signatories have put their names to a petition — titled "Open Investigation into Judging Decisions of Women's Figure Skating and Demand Rejudgement at the Sochi Olympics" — hoping to spark an official inquiry. The text, started by someone known only as "Justice Seeker," includes the following:
As you can probably tell, the world was keeping an eye on Yuna Kim who has set a World Record for the history of Women's Figure Skating, to defend her gold medalist title this Sochi Olympic 2014. The free skating event took place this morning and nobody denies the fact the Sotnikova did present to her potential. She did an amazing job and showed amazing performance. The one mistake she made was the stumbling after one of her jumps which was - although small - quite visible even to the public who do not know professional knowledge of figure skating. Nevertheless, she achieved her best score of 149.95 which was 0.11 away from Yu-na Kim's world record of 150.06 at the Vancouver Olympics. This comparison illustrates the home advantage already although I do admit that rules have changed since then but we are talking of quality of programme here.
Next up was Yuna Kim, she skated and her performance can be shown through what the CBC commenters said "this woman has no equal". She did show tiny unstable landing in one of her jumps, but relative to the stumble shown by Sotnikova, it was not as visible and she carried on with superb acting performance. "If you were to write a textbook, that would be how to do it", "Nobody compares to the flow she takes as she jumps and on the landings, nobody" (CBC)
Even the night before in the short programme, an evaluation sheet from the judges were made public which showed 0 in one of Yuna's jumps - in the short program where she made no mistakes at all which already shocked the Korean people. As well as the fact that they put 4 Russian people as judges out of the 14, makes all the sense. But the score in the free program has added on to the unfairness of what's supposed to be the fairest of all competitions - the Olympics. The corruption needs to be made visible and needs to be corrected.
The above quotes are chosen because they are stated by well-known figures, however, the rest of the public is demanding justice. But of course, we, as just citizens, know that our voice is weak and we may not have a chance to change anything. But this is crucial. And this petition may help towards bringing fairness back into the Olympics that showed so much corruption ironically. Yuna does not care about the medal since Gold was not in her utmost desires but it is the unfairness being observed by EVERYONE in the world except Russia. They need to acknowledge that yes, Sotnikova wrote the history in Russia but HISTORY IS FULL OF BIAS THAT NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED. This is NOT for Yuna Kim, this is for the FAIR SPORTSMANSHIP THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE CENTRAL TO THE WORLD EVENT OF THE OLYMPICS.
As of Friday morning, the petition has amassed more than 1.6 million supporters and has set several Change.org petition records. With 800,000 signatures in its first seven hours and a peak rate of nearly 100,000 every 15 minutes, the support has been staggering. The petition starter has chosen to deliver the signatures as they come in, so the ISU is receiving them automatically.
According to Aften Lay of Change.org, the site is experiencing five times its previous record for traffic.
The International Olympic Committee denied any sort of figure skating controversy, according to USA Today.
[Video: The pressure to win gold in Russia]
Not surprisingly, the majority of support has come from inside Korea, with nearly 90 percent of supporters reaching the site from Kim's home country (although, as the petition has gone viral, more comments can be seen from other countries on its page). Unfortunately for "Justice Seeker" and others, these figures might make it easier for skating officials to dismiss the petition. Although Kim has a great deal of global support —her 1,500,000-plus Facebook fans dwarf all Sochi athletes not named Shaun White — she's one of the most popular people in Korea and a major representative of the nation. Fairly or not, these fans are more likely to be accused of their own forms of bias, because they're not exactly impartial observers.
It's also debatable as to how scandalous the result really was. Many skating observers have agreed that Sotnikova's margin of victory was a bit shocking, but as many others, including Yahoo's Dan Wetzel, thought the order of finish was reasonable. Sotnikova's free skate featured one more triple jump than that of Kim, and Kim herself admitted after winning silver that her drive to win was not as great for Sochi as it was for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. It is quite understandable that her fans would be upset about the result — and they certainly have some good points in their argument's favor — but many figure skating scandals of the past have featured more obvious evidence of corruption.
Ultimately, though, the culture of skating is probably the one factor most working against this petition's eventual impact. In simply allowing several judges with questionable facts on their resumes — including one banned for a year following a bribe scandal and another who's married to the president of the Russian skating federation — near the competition in the first place, the ISU made it very clear that they have no problem courting accusations of corruption — they might even welcome them. A very popular petition filled with the names of skating fans is unlikely to change their minds. Sadly, the powers that be in skating seem to have accepted these complaints as the cost of doing business long ago.