Figure skating

Olympic figure skating judging complaints rejected by ISU

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Two Korea Skating Union complaints over the women’s figure skating judging at the Sochi Olympics were separately deemed inadmissible and dismissed by the International Skating Union, which found no bias from a Russian judge.

The KSU’s first complaint called for an investigation of “the wrongful constitution of the panel of judges and the unjust outcome” of the Olympic women’s figure skating event, according to the ISU. Russian Adelina Sotnikova controversially won gold over 2010 South Korean Olympic champion Yuna Kim.

The first complaint demanded that “corrective actions” take place based on the outcome of the requested investigation.

It specifically mentioned Sochi Olympic judge Alla Shekhovtseva, who made headlines in the aftermath of the women’s free skate as being married to a top Russian figure skating federation official and was seen hugging Sotnikova shortly after she won gold.

“The complainants admonished the appointment of Alla Shekovtseva as a violation of the rule against conflict of interest and the code of ethics,” the ISU wrote.

A three-member ISU Disciplinary Committee panel ruled that Shekhovtseva was “neither biased nor partial to the Russian skater Sotnikova.”

Further, the complaint was deemed inadmissible because the ISU said it was not directed at an individual or a federation.

The second complaint, “dismissed” by the ISU, similarly called for an immediate investigation of “the judging composition and whether it was biased toward Sotnikova.” Again, Shekhovtseva’s husband and her mixed-zone embrace with Sotnikokva were cited, with this YouTube URL. The KSU wanted any and all available sanctions against the judge.

The judge’s marriage “may be reasonably viewed as suggesting allegiance to Shekhovtseva’s national federation and Russian athletes such as Sotnikova,” the KSU complaint read, according to the ISU.

Shekhovtseva described her embrace with Sotnikova in the ISU’s decision to dismiss the complaint:

“After the end of the Event I walked in the arena and had to stop at the mixed zone because the flower ceremony was going to start and the hall way was blocked by TV crews, ceremony stuff, skaters, and a lot of other people. Adelina Sotnikova was there. She was very excited and she was hugging everybody around whom she knew. This can be seen on the mentioned YouTube piece- that she ran to several people whom she knew. But this YouTube piece shows only 3-4 persons. In reality there were much more. For example, she was whipping of happiness on the shoulder of the Russian Assistant Team 5 leader for more than a minute before she approached me and this episode was shown a lot on TV including the closing ceremony video but was not shown on the mentioned YouTube piece. And as I said the skater was so excited that she was running to everybody whom she knew. She also approached me and embraced me. Of course, I congratulated her with her performance.”

The ISU said the second complaint was dismissed because it was submitted too late, more than 60 days after the women’s free skate in Sochi.

The ISU panel also said Shekhovtseva’s presence was not a conflict of interest because she and her husband were not on the same judging panel and pointed out that Sotnikova initiated the hug and that the embrace came while the judge was off duty.

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Chloe Kim qualifies for U.S. Olympic snowboard team

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BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — In 2014, Chloe Kim ranked high enough to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in snowboard halfpipe, but she was too young to compete at the Winter Games.

Four years later, she’ll finally have the opportunity to represent the red, white and blue at the Olympics.

Kim won her second straight Olympic qualifier, which will secure her nomination to the U.S. halfpipe team. The 17-year-old, who is the only woman currently capable of landing back-to-back 1080s, is considered the gold medal favorite for PyeongChang 2018.

“It seems like a dream almost, and I’m trying to wake up,” Kim said of earning her spot on the Olympic team. “I think today when I get home, it’s going to sink in, and I’m probably going to cry.”

With the pressure of Olympic qualifying over with, Kim says that cleaning up her cab 1080s will be a primary focus as she prepares for PyeongChang.

Who will join Kim on the women’s halfpipe team remains up in the air, though Kelly Clark is in good shape after a third at the Copper Grand Prix and a second at Dew Tour Breckenridge, which hosted Friday’s qualifier.

The three-time Olympic medalist crashed on her first two runs in the final and needed to be checked out by the medical staff after hitting the deck on a frontside 1080 attempt on Run 2. With a bandage on her nose, she came back undeterred in Run 3, landed the frontside 1080 and got onto the podium.

“These are Olympic qualifying events, and me ending up in the middle of the pack isn’t really going to benefit me,” Clark said. “I have one shot, so I went for it.”

The men’s halfpipe competition produced a surprise winner in 19-year-old Jake Pates, who outdueled not just his own U.S. teammates but also a stacked field of international riders.

Pates came out firing on his third and final run, putting down a sequence of tricks that ended with a unique variation on the double McTwist 1260 made famous by Shaun White. Instead of doing a standard grab, Pates executed a tail grab on the trick that added extra difficulty and clearly caught the eye of the judges.

“That was a trick I’ve been wanting to do forever,” Pates said of the double McTwist, which he had never landed in a contest before. “Seriously, I saw that happen when I was, like, 8 years old. I saw that happen at X Games and it was crazy.”

According to Pates, it was just the fourth time he had ever landed the trick on snow.

With such a stacked group of riders on the U.S. team, Pates was mostly overlooked when it came to Olympic qualifying favorites. Now he’s suddenly in the discussion as a possible medal contender.

“I never thought in a million years I would have won this event today,” he said. “I just wanted to land that run, actually I’ve never done that before. I’ve been dreaming about that all week.”

Ben Ferguson, who was the top American at the first selection event, took a strong step toward making his first Olympic team as well by finishing third overall and second among Americans in Breckenridge. He and Pates will both be in position to potentially secure their spots on the team at the next qualifier.

“For every other American out there, there is another level of pressure we’ve got to deal with doing these [Olympic qualifiers],” Ferguson said afterward. “And for me, doing well in these last two has kind of pulled some of that pressure off and relieved a little bit of anxiety, and I can just focus on having fun more.”

Aside from helping to shape the U.S. Olympic team, the men’s halfpipe competition in Breckenridge also provided a showcase of international stars who will be in the mix for medals in PyeongChang.

Scotty James of Australia unveiled a new run which included back-to-back double cork 1260s and a switch backside 900. It was a very technical run which earned him a massive score and would have given him the victory were it not for Pates stepping it up at the very end.

Also standing out was Japan’s Ayumu Hirano. The Sochi silver medalist started his run off with a massive indy air before going into a difficult sequence of tricks that included a frontside double cork 1440 and frontside double cork 1260. He finished in fourth.

Absent from the men’s field was White, the two-time Olympic gold medalist. White was unable to put down a clean run amid snowy conditions during Thursday’s qualifying round and therefore failed to advance to the final.

Despite the disappointing result, White is still in good shape when it comes to Olympic qualifying. He was second among U.S. riders at the first selection event and still has two qualifying events left.

Up to three spots on the U.S. team for both men and women will be allocated through automatic qualification. In order to be eligible, riders need a top-three finish at one of the selection events. Each rider’s two best results will be used as a tiebreaker.

There are two selection events remaining for snowboard halfpipe, and they will both take place in January.

Olympic qualifying for snowboard and freeski slopestyle resumes Saturday in Breckenridge.

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Snowboard Halfpipe
Qualifying Standings 
(through two of four events)
1. Ben Ferguson — 1,800*
2. Jake Pates — 1,320*
3. Danny Davis — 1,200
4. Shaun White — 1,120*
5. Gabe Ferguson — 950
5. Chase Josey — 950

1. Chloe Kim — 2,000* (QUALIFIED)
2. Kelly Clark — 1,400*
3. Maddie Mastro — 1,300*
4. Arielle Gold — 1,100*
5. Elena Hight — 850
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.

Breckenridge Finals (all times Eastern)
Friday
Men’s Ski Halfpipe — 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Women’s Ski Halfpipe — 12:45-1:30 p.m.
Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe — 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe — 4:15-5 p.m.

Saturday
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle — 11-11:45 a.m.
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle — 12:15-1:30 p.m.
Men’s Ski Slopestyle — 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Women’s Ski Slopestyle — 4:15-5 p.m.

Man lives in Olympic Stadium

St. Moritz Olympic Stadium
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Rolf Sachs greets visitors at one of his homes by saying, “Welcome to the Olympic Stadium.”

Sachs, reportedly an investment banker turned furniture designer from London, owns a unique building — the press box and changing rooms of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympic Stadium in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

CNN is the latest outlet to report on Sachs, who reportedly acquired the land about a decade ago.

It also includes the outdoor area that hosted Opening and Closing Ceremonies, hockey games and speed skating events.

“I am very connected with St. Moritz. I thought it was an iconic building that we absolutely had to preserve, so I thought to make a house out of it,” Sachs said, according to CNN. “I even had a public vote here in St. Moritz and finally got the permit. And now it’s a very, very happy home for all my family and friends.”.

In 2010, the Daily Telegraph in Britain profiled Sachs’ Olympic Stadium home, calling it “a submarine-like structure” measuring 98×28 feet that had been abandoned for 20 years.

Sachs has an Olympic flag flying high when he’s home. Inside, he has a 1948 Olympic gold medal.

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