Another judging controversy in figure skating. Just what the sport needs. And in many ways, just what it deserves.
This one started, however innocently, after U.S. judge
In the e-mail, Inman, who teaches judging seminars in the summer but is not judging in these Olympics, commented on that last remark: "I find it an interesting observation of his own skating and the judges' marking of transitions."
I know Joe Inman, and I find him a surpassingly fair and knowledgeable judge. He is not a homer. He placed beloved American skater
Casual fans of figure skating may have forgotten that Gailhaguet was a central figure in the Olympic judging scandal in Salt Lake City. So his words do not exactly descend from the mount. He essentially fixed the 2002 pairs competition by pressuring a French judge to vote for the Russian team, a transgression for which Gailhaguet was suspended by the weak-willed ISU for a mere three years. He is now right back where he'd been. For Gailhaguet now to speak of a "North American lobby" in connection to Inman's above-board, innocuous e-mail is the height of Gallic gall. He should go stand in a corner wearing a dunce cap, scribbling "Je suis desolé" until the old 6.0 scoring system is brought back.
But I digress.
Not really. The old 6.0 scoring system, beloved by audiences because it was understandable and nakedly subjective, was scrapped as a result of the Gailhaguet-orchestrated Salt Lake City scandal. Judges often propped up their favorite skaters by using the second, artistic mark, and their partisanship was there for all to see. And to boo. It was great theater. Now judges prop up their favorite skaters by using the five "program component" marks -- except that viewers in the stands and at home never see those marks and are left to scratch their heads at the numbers that flash on the screen determining winners and losers. As one coach recently told me, "The judges used to have one mark to monkey around with. Now they have five."
Five, plus a cloak of anonymity. In other words the new scoring system is every bit as rife with potential for corruption as the old one.
The skaters know it. Plushenko said as much in his interview about his and Joubert's lack of transitions. "If the judges want someone to place high, they can arrange it...." America's outspoken
Weir, absurdly, went on to call for Inman's head. "I hope he's banned from judging [for] the rest of his life. It wasn't the time or place."
Actually, it was the perfect time and place. The Winter Olympics. The only time the rest of the sporting world has its eyes on this beautiful, difficult, horribly corrupt and politicized sport. Joe Inman's timing couldn't have been better.