Figure That

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Figure That

Audrey Rowland

February Snow

Audrey Rowland, Writer

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Women’s figure skating, a perennial favorite at the Winter Games, has crowned an unexpected champion, 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikova. Sotnikova accrued a total of 224.59 points from her short program and free skate, 5.48 points ahead of Yuna Kim, the South Korean who had hoped to repeat her gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Games. Surprisingly, given Russia’s tradition of excellence in dance and similar pursuits, Sotnikova is the first Russian woman to win an individual Gold Medal in figure skating, but, as she was not chosen to compete in the team event, she will not take home a team Gold Medal. South Korea’s Yuna Kim and Italy’s Carolina Kostner, placing second and third respectively, joined Sotnikova on the podium.

Going into the Olympics, reigning champion Yuna Kim was expected to take home the Gold, a swan song to conclude an illustrious career. However, although her artistic scores were higher than Sotnikova’s, the Russian’s technical scores and extra triple jump edged Kim out of first place. Carolina Kostner and Mao Asada, Japanese champion, were also rated above Sotnikova. Even her teammate Yulia Lipnitskaya, the 15-year-old virtuoso, seemed more likely to medal, rendering Sotnikova’s dark horse victory all the more unexpected.

Sotnikova’s surprise win has not gone uncontested. Hours after Kim’s final score went up, Change.org petition to overturn the results had already garnered 73,000 signatures. American skater Ashley Wagner, who placed 7th despite staying on her feet throughout her programs, criticized the judging process by saying that figure skating “need(s) to get rid of the anonymity if they’re going to create a fan base.” Currently, figure skating is scored by a panel of anonymous judges with concurrent anonymous scores, encouraging controversies like the Sotnikova-Kim debate. However, as no complaint has been registered with the International Olympic Committee, Sotnikova will skate away from Sochi with a gold medal.