Yuna Kim

ISU boss defends Sochi Olympic figure skating judging


The International Skating Union hasn’t received a formal complaint from South Korea about figure skating judging in Sochi, the ISU president said while defending its judging system Thursday.

The Korea Olympic Committee said last week it would file an official complaint, along with the Korea Skating Union, about “unreasonable” and “unfair” judging that awarded Russian Adelina Sotnikova the Olympic gold medal over South Korean Yuna Kim in Sochi.

The complaint would “demand the [ISU] look into the makeup of the judging panel and whether a fair judgment was possible.”

That complaint hasn’t reached the ISU yet.

“As soon as we receive something official from the Korean Skating Union or the Korean Olympic Committee, we will comment,” ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta said at the World Championships in Saitama, Japan, on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

The Italian Cinquanta said a complaint needed evidence.

“Figure skating is an extremely difficult sport,” Cinquanta said, according to Agence France-Presse. “So the judging system is not easy [to be understood].

“In addition, when point of view and opinion are expressed and are criticism, that is one thing, but criticism of wrongdoing needs to be presented with evidence, so that we can make a difference between opinion and something more precise,” he said, according to Reuters.

One of the judges from Sochi is married to a top Russian figure skating federation official and was seen hugging Sotnikova shortly after she won gold. Another was suspended one year as being part of the 1998 Olympic ice dance fixing scandal.

“We are not perfect, as also the skaters are not perfect,” Cinquanta said, according to Reuters. “Sometimes, they do a mistake. Mistakes are possible, because we are human beings.

“But the best human beings we may use are those sitting in the arena. If one is seated in the row No. 32 or 34, he or she does not have the same view as the official has sitting at the rink.”

Skater breaks Kim’s record at World Championships

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang

Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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