As skating returns to the scene of the crime, a look back at how expected big story at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships was whacked into a footnote by. . .you know what

As skating returns to the scene of the crime, a look back at how expected big story at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships was whacked into a footnote by. . .you know what

“They say history repeats itself. It’s been 25 years since Detroit was the epicenter of the figure skating world.”

— From a U.S. Figure Skating promotional video for the 2019 national championships in Detroit.

Todd Sand’s first response to the question of what he remembered most about the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit is not as surprising as it seems.

“It was the year the pros were coming back,” Sand said. “That was the main chatter leading up to the season and the nationals.”

Indeed it was.

And the 1994 nationals would be the first significant place to gauge the impact of the International Skating Union’s 1992 decision to give professionals the option to be reinstated for Olympic-style events. That put 1988 Olympic champion Brian Boitano and 1982 world champion Elaine Zayak into the mix for the 1994 Olympic team, a competition made more cutthroat by the U.S. having earned just two spots in both men’s and women’s singles for those Winter Games in Norway.

The denouement of those comebacks figured to be the big story in Detroit.

“Yeah, right,” Zayak said, with a hearty laugh, when reminded of that scenario this week. “I really made a comeback the right year, huh?”

Zayak’s standing-ovation-worthy skating to get fourth place after seven years away from any serious competition and Boitano’s making the Olympic team with a disappointing second to Scott Davis now are among the footnotes to the most attention-getting and notorious story in the history of figure skating in the United States.

You likely remember it: The attack on Nancy Kerrigan by associates of Tonya Harding that marked its silver anniversary on Sunday.

Read More

Damning report on USOC leadership in Nassar abuse scandal should lead nearly entire USOC board to resign

Damning report on USOC leadership in Nassar abuse scandal should lead nearly entire USOC board to resign

All but one member of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors must resign.

A new board must separate the position of athlete ombudsman from the USOC paid staff, so athletes can feel their grievances, large and small, get an independent hearing.

USOC sponsors, not Congress, should lead the drive for those changes in the aftermath of a damning report about the way USOC leadership mishandled the horrific Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

But the board could start the process of replacing itself at its meeting today in California.

Nassar was sentenced Jan. 24 to 40-to-175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes after some 200 of his victims courageously testified against him in court. But that testimony did not fill in all the blanks about the case.

In the months that have followed, there remained many critical and unanswered questions about how the USOC leadership had handled - and is handling - the worst and most gruesome events in the history of Olympic sports in the United States.

The answers, searingly critical of the USOC, came this week in the report issued by Ropes & Gray, the Boston-based international law firm whom the USOC Board of Directors hired to conduct an independent investigation.

The report’s evidence that USA Gymnastics and its former chief executive, Steve Penny, acted unconscionably already had been well documented.  Its evidence about the USOC’s utter failure to act was new – and even more awful than many suspected.

Read More

In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In mid-June, the International Skating Union gave a one-year suspension to Huang Feng of China for showing “obvious and systematic” national bias in his judging of the pairs event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The first weekend of July, the international federation allowed Huang not only to attend an important ISU seminar on the ramifications of recent scoring system changes but also to take – and pass – a test for promotion as a technical controller, an event official's position that can have an even bigger impact on the outcome of a competition than a judge.

Huh?

The ISU willingly provided me an answer to that befuddling question, but the logic in the answer smacks of relative ethics in an area where absolute ethics are demanded.  The bureaucratic hair-splitting involved simply is unacceptable.

And the ISU's "discipline" of the miscreant judge gives skating fans yet another reason to wonder if they can ever trust the results in this highly subjective sport.

Read More

Feckless ISU members vote to keep allowing indefensible judging conflict of interest in figure skating

Feckless ISU members vote to keep allowing indefensible judging conflict of interest in figure skating

This is all you have to know about the International Skating Union’s commitment to integrity in judging of figure skating.

The ISU members voted Monday morning at their biennial Congress to continue allowing an unconscionable conflict of interest in the sport without even any discussion on the matter.

Thanks to a move from Skate Canada, whose president’s ethical equivocation created the need for action, the feckless ISU members removed from the Congress agenda an urgent proposal preventing federation presidents from judging major international events.

Read More

EXCLUSIVE: Suspended once, international figure skate judge under investigation again

EXCLUSIVE:  Suspended once, international figure skate judge under investigation again

A Belarusian figure skating judge who recently served a suspension for violation of the International Skating Union’s code of ethics is under investigation again, Globetrotting has learned.

Alexander Lakernik of Russia, the International Skating Union’s highest ranking figure skating official, said in an email that the ISU is “investigating the irregularities at the the Golden Spin of Zagreb.”  That Challenger Series competition took place Dec. 6-9 in Zagreb, Croatia.

Sources have told Globetrotting that actions by Belarusian judge Alexandre Gorojdanov are at the center of the investigation.  Gorodjonov had been selected to judge both parts of the senior ice dance event at Golden Spin but was replaced for the free dance, with no reason given.

Read More