Allegations of another figure skating scandal at Winter Games

Canadian coach shrugs off reports

 A figure skating scandal could be brewing at the Sochi Olympics, but Canada's head coach insists he's confident the judging will be fair.

Twelve years after the scandal that rocked the Salt Lake Olympics, French newspaper L'Equipe has reported that Russian judges would help keep Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir off the top of the podium, in favour of Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

In exchange, the American judges would help Russia win gold in the new team event, according to L'Equipe.

"I stay clear of that stuff," said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director. "I have full confidence that the skaters go out and do their job, they will do their job on the ice, the judges will judge it as they see it."

L'Equipe's story, under the headline "Petits arrangements entre amis" -- or "Small arrangements between friends" -- cited an unnamed Russian coach as saying there was a "proposed barter" between the two countries.

Virtue and Moir didn't speak with reporters after their practice Saturday afternoon, as they were competing in the team event later in the evening.

Davis and White also didn't stop for the media.

Virtue and Moir are Canada's Olympic champions from 2010, but were runners-up to their American rivals at both the world championships last spring and the Grand Prix Final in December.

"Our focus going into here is performance on the ice and we're fully confident the performances will be judged as how they are on the ice," Slipchuk said. "We can't get involved in stuff like that, that's peoples' opinion and we're just staying out of it."

Another judging scandal, however, is the last thing the sport needs after the entire scoring system was overhauled on the heels of Salt Lake.

Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were awarded gold in 2002 over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier after the French Skating Federation made a deal with the Russians.

Sale and Pelletier were later awarded a joint gold with the Russians.

The old 6.0 scoring system was then replaced in 2004 to make the scoring more objective.

The new system has set technical marks for each required element.

There are also component marks -- which range from 0 to 10 and replace the old artistic marks -- for skating skills, footwork, performance, composition and choreography that still leave room for interpretation.

Under the new system, the highest and lowest scores are dropped.

Virtue and Moir and Davis and White -- who train together in Canton, Mich., and share the same coach in Russian Marina Zoueva -- have been neck-and-neck since 2010, but the balance in results has tilted more toward the Americans over the past year and a half.

Slipchuk argued that Virtue and Moir are peaking at the just the right time.

"Every event and every performance forward was just another building block," he said. "We'll see how they all do here, and leave it on the table here. Like any sport, you're going to do perfect performances to win Olympic gold, so that would obviously will dictate what happens here."

The ice dancers were scheduled to skate the short dance Saturday night on Day 2 of the three-day inaugural team event.

The Canadians are in second place with 17 points, two points behind the Russians.

The Americans are fifth.

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  1. john posted on 02/08/2014 10:34 AM
    sounds like russia is afraid of us . in the words of the great yoda

    thay should be afraid thay should be .
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