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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Balancing act: Skating officials moved to find better harmony between artistry and athleticism in the sport

Balancing act: Skating officials moved to find better harmony between artistry and athleticism in the sport

Quadruple jumps were limited, the practice of backloading programs to gain bonus points was severely curtailed, and neither a major conflict-of-interest issue nor raising the minimum age for senior competitions was even approved for discussion.

Those were the major takeaways from the biennial International Skating Union congress last week in Seville, Spain.

But the impact of what did -- and did not -- happen at the 57th ISU Ordinary Congress will likely be far less significant than the ramifications of ISU Communication No. 2168 (pdf), issued 10 days before the congress began.

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In needed move to prevent federation figure skating heads from judging, ISU still needs to go further

In needed move to prevent federation figure skating heads from judging, ISU still needs to go further

The International Skating Union’s biennial congress early next month will consider a proposal that might have been unnecessary if the top Canadian figure skating federation official had a more accurate ethical compass.

So you can call Urgent Proposal No. 6 the Leanna Caron Rule, since the proposal obviously was spurred largely by the actions of Skate Canada president Caron.

The proposal, submitted by the ISU Council, is a move in the right direction toward eliminating conflicts of interest that can undermine confidence in judging of this highly subjective sport.  Hopefully, it will pass.

But it doesn’t go quite far enough.

And the ISU needs to change another regulation so it can go further.

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5x3 = astounding for Russia's Alina Zagitova, jumping toward Olympic title

5x3 = astounding for Russia's Alina Zagitova, jumping toward Olympic title

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - It was just after 10 a.m. Thursday, and the leading group of women was winding down its next-to-last practice before Friday's Olympic free skate.

Olympic Athlete from Russia Alina Zagitova, the short program winner, already had done the run-through of her free skate to music from the Minkus ballet Don Quixote.

It included a combination of three triple jumps: lutz, toe loop, loop. Zagitova apparently did it just because she can; the element is not a planned part of her program.

It was only the first course of the sumptuous jumping banquet Zagitova offered to the small audience at Gangneung Ice Arena.

After doing two more combinations of three triple jumps, which are common fare for her, the 15-year-old sated everyone's appetite with an extraordinary concoction.

She did a triple lutz followed by a triple loop and another triple loop and another triple loop and another triple loop. One lutz, four loops. A combination of FIVE triple jumps.

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With investigation over, no one will know if judge's alleged impropriety cost Spanish ice dance team an Olympic spot

With investigation over, no one will know if judge's alleged impropriety cost Spanish ice dance team an Olympic spot

The International Skating Union said Monday it has dropped disciplinary proceedings against a Belarusian judge due to his resignation, which seems to have been conveniently timed.

That means it never will be known if a Spanish ice dance team lost a chance to go to the 2018 Olympics because of Alexandre Gorojdanov’s alleged violations of his duties as judge.

It also means the ISU’s inexplicable refusal to give an automatic lifetime ban to any judge or referee found to have violated the ethical rules of those duties allowed Gorojdanov the chance to potentially corrupt the results of another competition.  The Belarusian had served a 6 1/2-month suspension from Jan. 13 to June 30, 2017, after having been found in violation of the ISU code of ethics as a pairs referee at a 2016 event.

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