(FYI: I am a former figure skater and judge with over 25 years of World Class experience in the sport.)
" For two years, we considered that Elena and Anton won, but it went to the other couple,'' We didn't accuse the North American block, we just accepted it. So now it is our time.'' Coach Tamara Moskvina.
Not so fast Tamara-- I don't know what event the Judges sitting in the Olympic Ice Skating Arena in Salt Lake City were watching tonight-- but it sure as hell wasn't the Pairs event I was watching! I'm willing to accept judging based on the merit of what was presented at the time of the performance last night, but not on politics.
Well-- (interject a big sigh here,) it appears the ugly, political side of figure skating got kicked off in primetime tonight, as Olympic Pairs Skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, from Canada were robbed of the Gold Medal in tonight's Pairs competition. The Canadian Pair, skated a perfect program to the original music by Francis Lai from film "Love Story" by Eric Segal. However perfect wasn't good enough to win the gold tonight.
Allow my fellow skaters to express their thoughts;
" I felt disappointed as an athlete, as an Olympian and as a figure skater when that happened." Brian Cousins, Olympic Gold Medallist
" If you’re upset with anything, put it on the judges,” Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medallist "They are going to be talking about this decision for years!"
That just about kicks off my feelings.
From where I sat, Jamie and David skated a perfectly balanced programs of the right technical difficulty with no errors. Yes I could nit-pick a half a beat here or there-- but there were no bobbles, flat take-offs, wobbly edges or missed landings. All jumps and spins hit their proper edge within the acceptable practiced entrances and the landings were technically correct. Everything was esthetically pleasing within the character of the music and theme. They interpreted the music within the characters they played in an appropriate manner. The footwork in between the items (of jumps, spins and lifts,) were as we say in in skating-- rock solid and linked without a break.
And one more thing-- Jamie and David told a story.
Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze, from Russia who were awarded the Gold medal, made two noticeable errors-- Anton stepping out of the double axle and Elena's shakey landings, where their skating lacked edge control. Elena Berezhnaya skated several sections with no passion or projection. It is definitely noticeable to me that the passion of Anton Sikharulidze is carrying Elena through at least two sections of the program.
And they failed to tell any type of story to link their performance to the audience. A serious disconnect in my opinion.
And for God's sake-- someone get Elena a decent haircut before World's. That sloppy mop is more of a distraction to her costuming and program than I've ever seen in a World Class/Olympic level skater.