Ice dance fans incensed as Moir, Virtue place second in short dance
Published Monday, February 17, 2014 9:33AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 17, 2014 1:30PM EST
Many figure skating fans were incensed to see how differently the judges scored Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir against their American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White Sunday. But at least one former champion says it really might come down to which style the judges prefer.
Former 10-time ice dance champion Shae-Lynn Bourne tells CTV’s Canada AM that comparing the Canadians to the Americans is like comparing apples to oranges, in terms of their styles.
“Tessa and Scott are more artists…. and the others, I see more as athletes. They’re always doing powerful routines and they’re exciting, but when Tessa and Scott touch the ice, they’re telling a story,” she said.
“It’s like watching a beautiful movie unfold, and they get you emotionally. And last night, they really captured that.”
On Monday, the two teams will face off in the long ice dance program to see who will be going home with the gold medal.
Bourne, who competed at three Olympic Games with partner Victor Kraatz, says she’s not convinced that the Americans were necessarily better than the Canadians, just different.
“It’s almost like two completely different movies that you’re watching and with Meryl and Charlie -- they fly on the ice, they have great technique, but I don’t feel any emotion.
Davis and White set a world record with their short dance program score of 78.89 -- 2.56 points ahead of Virtue and Moir’s 76.33. That’s considered a big gulf in the tight voting system of ice dance.
Many fans took to Twitter to voice their surprise with the judges' choices Sunday, as did three-time world champion Elvis Stojko. He tweeted he didn’t agree with the judges’ components scores, and said he thought Virtue and Moir simply skated better.
Former Finnish ice dancer Petri Kokko, who is credited with creating the Finnstep, a critical element in the short dance program, tweeted he too thought the Olympic judges got it wrong.
“I don’t understand the judging in #icedancing. @Virtue_Moir should be leading in my honest opinion,” he wrote.
Earlier, he tweeted: “Hope @Virtue_Moir wins. Americans timing off in the #finnstep and restrained even otherwise.”
“Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are ice dancing PERFECTION. Don't care what the 'judges' think. Best couple. PERIOD,” tweeted Canadian fan @PerfImperfectBB
“When the inventor of Finnstep says that Virtue & Moir did it better, but the judges say otherwise... that's sketchy,” added @Benelavance
Bourne said if she had been behind the judges’ table Sunday, she too would have chosen the Canadians.
“From my perspective, I didn’t see any mistakes, nothing technical that my eyes could see,” she said
“…That was the best they ever skated that program all season. It had the magic, it flowed.”
Still, she added that skaters can lose points for even tiny mistakes, such as holding a lift a few seconds too long.
Despite the scores, Bourne says there’s still a chance Virtue and Moir could pull off a gold in the long program.
“All they need to do is skate free, really be present and show their magic,” she said.
“It really comes down to not being tight and not being cautious but really just giving 100 per cent, and beyond,” she said.
Monday’s final dance competition comes amid recent rumours that there could be something more sinister behind the judges’ voting choices. Last weekend, the French sports magazine L'Equipe published a report alleging that judges from the U.S. and Russia are conspiring to help each other during the Games.
Quoting an unidentified Russian coach, the paper reported that the U.S. had agreed to help Russia win the pairs and team figure skating events, and in exchange, Russia has agreed to help Davis and White win gold.
U.S. Figure Skating has categorically denied the report.
David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, says there’s really no way to verify the newspaper report.
“Normally, you wouldn’t take these kinds of allegations too seriously, but it did come from L’Equipe, which is the same newspaper that broke the Lance Armstrong story (in August, 2005) with 100 per cent correctness, so one does wonder,” he told Canada AM from Sochi.
“What’s unfortunate is that we don’t really have any way of checking if they’re true because there’s no transparency in figure skating voting; we don’t know who voted how. So if there was real collusion, we wouldn’t know about it.”
There’s nothing new about figure skating judging conspiracies, says Bourne; there were plenty during her competitive career too. She says skaters have to do their best to ignore those rumours and focus on their performances.
“It’s always been around – the politics of skating and all the conspiracies. You just have to kind of keep it aside and not let it get to you when you are skating. Every skater is used to hearing these stories,” she said.
As for who will go home with the gold medal, Bourne says it will come down to whoever can bring their best to the long program.
“If Tessa and Scott can give that real magic moment,” she said, “I think they have a good chance of winning.”
With files from The Canadian Press