- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY Figure skating is the boxing of the Winter Olympics. Or maybe boxing is the figure skating of the Summer Olympics, I don't know.
They are the evil twins of the Olympics, closely linked in a bond of corruption.
After getting the royal treatment from judges in the pairs figure skating competition Monday night, Canadian David Pelletier said when he learned that their performance wasn't good enough to win the gold medal, "It was like somebody punched me in the stomach."
See? Even the skaters talk in boxing terms.
If that's not enough, his partner, Jamie Sale, literally was punched in the stomach Monday night at Salt Lake Ice Center during warmups on the ice, when she collided with one of the winning Russian skaters, Anton Sikharulidze, knocking the wind out of her.
"With that bad collision, my stomach was hurting a lot," Sale said.
That's what they teach the Russians go to the body.
It's that sort of behavior that got Mike Tyson banned from boxing in Nevada.
This is the world of figure skating, one that in one sense I have no clue how it works or who should have won Monday night, and neither do most sportswriters. Here's the typical figure skating news conference dozens of reporters writing down the answers to Christine Brennan's questions.
But judging controversies are something I am very familiar with. After all, you've seen one Eugenia Williams scorecard, you've seen them all.
Figure skating had one of those Eugenia Williams-like judging controversies still stewing yesterday after Pelletier and Sale lost the gold medal to the Russian team of Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya. Apparently the routine that the Canadian pair performed was better than the one the Russians did, according to everyone but the judges.
The crowd booed long and loud when the marks came down to give the Russians the gold medal, and NBC's commentators nearly had to be restrained from running on the ice and bashing some ice skating judges heads. Sandra Bezic, a Canadian former pairs champion, said she was "embarrassed for our sport" and Scott Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic champion, declared that the Canadians "won that program, there's not a doubt for anyone in the place, except for maybe a few judges."
I don't know. It's almost quaint to have a good old-fashioned figure skating scandal again. It harks back to the good old days of the Soviet bloc voting. Heck, it's downright innocent compared to the Salt Lake City bidding scandal.
The city was in full-scale scandal alert yesterday. A news conference by Pfizer on the IOC Olympic research project on the science of skating was postponed, probably out of fear that someone might ask if the science of skating was make sure you have the right judges in your pocket.
The International Skating Union issued the following statement: "The International Skating Union, following certain reactions received by the public and media on the result of the pairs event at the Salt Lake City Ice Center last night and also to respect the public opinion, is doing an internal assessment to monitor if the ISU rules and procedures have been respected."
What would they do if they found those rules and procedures weren't respected? Have a rematch?
Pay-per-view baby. The United States and Russia had the cold war. Now Canada and Russia the ice war.
There were all kinds of conspiracy theories going around here yesterday. One was that the French judge, who was one of the five who voted for the Russian skaters, compared to the four judges who voted for the Canadians, made a deal with the Russians in exchange for a favorable vote when the ice dancing competition takes place.
That probably follows some sort of ISU procedure, I'm sure.
The head of the Canadian Olympic Committee held a news conference calling for an investigation into the judging. "The best thing to do right now is to request that the ISU, who are absolutely the ones responsible for competitions and for judges, investigate what has happened here," Sally Rehorick said. "We need to teach judges that they will be rewarded for being fair and that it is a fundamental principal of the sport."
This has been tried before. Before the 2000 Summer Olympics, an official in one sport suggested that judges be offered extra money in return for agreeing that they would not be bribed in other words, outbribe the bribers.
The sport? Boxing.

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