sochi 2014

Yuna Kim

ISU boss defends Sochi Olympic figure skating judging

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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

Russia hires new hockey coach after Olympic disappointment

Oleg Znarok
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Russia’s hockey federation named Latvian Oleg Znarok its hockey coach Wednesday, tasked with bringing the national team back up after an underwhelming quarterfinal exit at the Sochi Olympics.

Znarok, 51, led club team Dynamo Moscow to back-to-back Gagarin Cup titles in the KHL the previous two seasons. His deal to coach Russia runs through the 2018 Olympics, according to R-Sport.

He takes over for Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, who in Sochi led a Russian team hoping to win its first men’s hockey Olympic gold since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

But it stumbled after an opening 5-2 win over Slovenia, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout and needing another shootout to defeat Slovakia 1-0.

Russia blanked Norway 4-0 in the qualification playoffs but fell 3-1 to eventual bronze medalist Finland in the quarterfinals.

Bilyaletdinov had a memorable press conference with Russian reporters after the elimination. He said, among other sound bytes, “eat me alive right now.”

Znarok played for the USSR and, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, was captain of the Latvian national team. He later coached Latvia at the 2010 Olympics, where it lost all four of its games with the worst goal differential in group play.

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President Obama praises Dutch speed skaters with Rembrandt backdrop

Barack Obama
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President Barack Obama stood in front of the most impressive backdrop he said he’d ever seen for a statement to the press and went on to laud one of the most impressive performances in Olympic history on Monday.

“I’d be remiss if I did not mention that I’m proud of both of our teams at the Olympics,” Obama said at The Rijksmuseum for art and history in Amsterdam (transcript here). “So in addition to painting, you really know how to speed skate.”

Obama was standing in front of Rembrandt‘s 17th-century masterpiece “The Night Watch.”

In Sochi, Dutch speed skaters won 23 of a possible 32 medals, or 71.9 percent, the greatest-ever percentage for one nation in one sport that had at least eight medal events at a single Winter Olympics, according to OlympStats.com.

The entire U.S. Olympic Team won 28 medals in Sochi, nine fewer than Vancouver 2010 and three more than Torino 2006.

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