I watched the Ice Dancing at the Sochi Olympics and I was pleased by what I saw. In a very close battle , the American pair of Meryl Davis and Charlie White edged out the Canadian duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Afterwards, the Canadian pair was understandably disappointed but appeared to take their loss in stride as they congratulated the winners. Imagine my surprise the next day when I read that Tessa Virtue commented that Marina Zoueva, the Russian lady who coaches both pairs, had favored the American pair over themselves. Then the Canadian press got into the act, questioning the judging and hinting at a conspiracy between Russia and America that led to the Russians winning the team gold while the Americans copped the pairs event.
I am not that knowledgeable about ice dancing. I watched both pairs perform and I thought they were both fabulous. I felt that way about the third place finishers too.In the absence of any egregious mistakes, such as a fall or a bobble, by any of the pairs it is difficult to quarrel with the scoring and the results. I don’t see how the results could have been fixed considering the judging format. As I understand it , the high and the low scores from the panel of judges are thrown out and the remaining ones ( from the middle of the pack) are multiplied by the degree of difficulty to arrive at the score. Unless there is widespread collusion by several of the judges, it is impossible to fix the result. This was possible in the Cold War era when the Eastern bloc nations toed the Soviet line but I don’t think it is possible now . For the Canadian press to mutter about fixing is sour grapes.
I would like to ask Tessa Virtue the following questions:
1. One of the remarks you made about your coach’s ” Favoritism” is that she attended their performance at the U.S nationals rather than being there for you at the Canadian nationals which you won. Considering that both events took place the same day , there was no way she could have attended them both. So she chose to attend theirs … big deal! Is that really worth mentioning ?
2. If you had won at Sochi, would you still have complained about your coach favoring the Americans ?
3. This season , Davis and White won every competition they entered . They came to Sochi on a high note confident, and determined to win the Olympic gold that had eluded them at Vancouver. Is it possible that they were in top form and were just that little bit hungrier?
4. Moir and you won the gold at the Vancouver and Olympics in 2010, Davis and White finishing second. At the last four world championships they and you have alternated as victors . You won in 2010 and 2012, they won in 2011 and 2013 and in each case the other pair finished second .Obviously, it is a very close rivalry and this time they won. Why can’t you just accept it instead of raining on their parade?
I loved watching the competition on ice and was very disappointed in the aftermath, the hints of favoritism and the allegations of collusion and fixing. You four have competed against each other for years and until now your rivalry has been a model of fierce competition and good sportsmanship. It is stupid – sorry, but there is no other word for it – to throw it all away particularly when there is no chance of reversing the result. Instead of dwelling on Sochi , why not concentrate on the upcoming 2014 World Championships in Saitama,Japan at the end of March? That will probably your last chance to go up against Davis and White since all of you will retire before very long. At present you are tied in your head to head competition; consider the 2014 worlds your rubber match. Whoever wins , I promise not to question the result.
P.S As is always the case, the press instigates a controversy and then feeds on it. It is most unfortunate that a remark by Virtue has been blown up so much, with Americans and Canadians flooding the message boards accusing each other of being sore losers. For the record , I am not one of them. I like Canadians,very much. I enjoyed the times I’ve been in Canada and I think Canadians are very nice, polite, helpful, cultured people. This doesn’t apply to the sports journalists of both countries when they are trying to manufacture a story.