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.

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Redemptive performance keeps demons at bay for Nathan Chen

Redemptive performance keeps demons at bay for Nathan Chen

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - It was the most significant performance to this point in Nathan Chen's competitive skating career.

And Chen's redemptive Olympic free skate Saturday may turn out to be the most significant in his entire career.

"I'm glad I was able to show myself, and everyone else, I can bounce back from a bad performance," Chen said.

To have finished his debut Olympics with nothing to temperhaving done so poorly in the team event and individual short programs would have been a burden Chen couldn't have shaken until 2022 -- if ever.

"These kind of things haunt you," 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie said.

Chen, 18, not only exorcised the demons-in-waiting -- he also wound up making Olympic history, winning the free skate by a whopping 8.91-point margin over repeat gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. His performance moved him from 17th after the short to fifth overall but, more important, allowed him to step into a future that again seems as bright as the one everyone has envisioned for him.

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No way to sugarcoat this: Nathan Chen has been awful in his first Olympics

No way to sugarcoat this:  Nathan Chen has been awful in his first Olympics

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - There is no way to sugarcoat this, to find a silver lining or a saving grace, or to think that the light at the end of the tunnel is anything but an oncoming train.

Nathan Chen has simply been awful in his first Olympics.

As poor as Chen was in the team event short program a week ago, he was significantly worse in the individual short program Friday.

"Honestly, it was bad," Chen said. "I made as many mistakes as I possibly could have."

The most gifted jumper in U.S. men's skating history did not have a clean jumping pass among the six he completed in the two short programs. The three in the individual short produced a fall, two step-out landings and failure to do a required combination.

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Men's figure skating has mess on its hands (and knees, and butts)

Men's figure skating has mess on its hands (and knees, and butts)

The Grand Prix and Challenger Series events ended last weekend, moving this Olympic figure skating season into the national championship phase (the first two of note are Russia, Dec. 19-24 in Saint Petersburg and Japan, Dec. 20-24 in Tokyo.)

There are big questions related to each.  Will injured reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva compete in the Russian Championships? Will injured reigning world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu be ready for Japanese nationals?

A 2018 Olympic spot for each should be a foregone conclusion, notwithstanding the unanswered questions about eligibility for all Russian athletes.  Given that Medvedeva did not compete at the Sochi Olympics, the epicenter of current Russian doping issues, and given that she has had no doping positives, nothing but injury should keep her from competing in Pyeongchang.

The Grand Prix Series also has left other unanswered questions.  Here are a few involving men’s singles (I’ll get to women, pairs and dance later in the week):

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In Grand Prix Final, watch the competitions within the singles competition

In Grand Prix Final, watch the competitions within the singles competition

Who knows what to make of the singles competition in the Grand Prix Final?

The women’s event beginning Friday in Nagoya, Japan, is missing the two-time reigning world champion and overwhelming favorite, Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, sidelined by a broken foot, as well as the 3-4 finishers at last year’s worlds, Gabrielle Daleman of Canada and Karen Chen of the United States.  Both Daleman and Chen wound up miles from Japan after finishing, 16th and 23rd, respectively, in the season standings, with only the top six earning places in the final.

The men’s event beginning Thursday does not have reigning world champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan (injury prevented him from a near certain qualification), Javier Fernandez of Spain (did not qualify) and Patrick Chan of Canada (skipped second Grand Prix event after a poor showing in his first.)

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