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Borscht Belts: Kim 'not really upset' about result

Skaters still figuring out futures; Platov agrees with dance decision
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Korea's Yu-Na Kim, the Olympic gold medalist from 2010, kisses her silver. -Getty Images

Two days after the ladies skating event ended, the Korea Skating Union asked for an investigation into the judging that ended with Russia's Adelina Sotnikova beating South Korea's Yu-Na Kim for the Olympic gold medal.

One person isn't fazed by it: Kim.

When asked Saturday night about her federation's action, Kim said, "I just think the people around me are more upset than I am. A lot of people thought I was crying (on TV) because of the score, but actually, I wasn't. There was no other meaning. I was just really happy it was all over and I had a good result.

"I don't think the letter is going to change the result, so I'm not really upset about it," Kim added.

Kim, who had just performed in the Olympic gala along with the other medalists and top skaters in these Winter Games, reiterated that she has no plans to compete in the 2018 Olympics which will be held in South Korea.

"I was an athlete," Kim said, adding that she plans to use her time between now and 2018 "to help as many athletes (in Korea) as much as I can."

The one major event on her immediate docket, she said, was a show scheduled for May in Seoul.

Kim said she had no added emotions after having just competed in her final Olympics.

"I've been here for about a week, and I'm really happy it's the end right now," she said.

Sotnitkova earned 224.59 total points, Kim tallied 219.11 and Italy's Carolina Kostner finished third with 216.73.

Although there has been some controversy as to whether Kim should have beaten Sotnikova and whether Sotnikova received a boost in the scores because the Winter Games were held on her home soil, many skaters have said the scoring was fair. Olympic champions Scott Hamilton and Tara Lipinski both said they agreed with the scoring in Sochi, as did two-time Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko.

Mark Adams, the International Olympic Committee's director of communications, deemed Korea's action as a "protest letter" but pretty much turned the matter over to the International Skating Union (ISU). The ISU has not received a protest letter, Selina Vanier, an ISU spokeswoman, confirmed to icenetwork.

"You'll have to speak to [the ISU], but from what I understand, the letter wouldn't trigger any investigations," Adams said. "As far as I understand, it is a protest letter."

The ISU stood behind its judging system, saying that the officiating judges were selected at random from a pool of 13 judges. The ladies panel included judges from Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. Yuri Balkov was the judge from Ukraine, and he had served a suspension for a year after a Canadian judge recorded a phone conversation at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano.

The ISU said in a statement that it is "confident in the high quality and integrity of the ISU judging system."

Sotnikova was cheered by the Russian crowd before her performance in the gala Saturday, and although she was exhausted from the emotions from the past few days, she said, "I had a magic feeling on the ice tonight, magic emotions."

When asked if she was bothered by Korea's protest, she shook her head, no.

"I'm as a calm as a tank," Sotnikova said through an interpreter, who noted, appropriately, that that saying is a common Russian expression.  

Worlds-bound?

The 2014 World Figure Skating Championships will take place March 24-30 in Saitama, Japan, but there are question marks as to which skaters will compete, a common occurrence in an Olympic season. Of the four Olympic champions crowned in Sochi, Yuzuru Hanyu is expected to compete in the men's event, as is Sotnikova. Russia's pairs skating champions, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, were not sure about their plans, and neither are American ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Davis and White became the first U.S. team to win a gold medal in ice dancing and are two-time world champions. Davis and White said at the gala that they will go to Moscow from Sochi to perform in a show, then travel to New York to do some media events before heading home to Detroit to determine their competitive future.

Among the Americans who competed, Jeremy Abbott said he plans to compete at worlds, as do all three of the U.S. women: Gracie Gold (fourth in Sochi), Ashley Wagner (seventh) and Polina Edmunds (ninth). Jason Brown, who skated to a ninth-place finish in his first Olympics, is the first alternate. Max Aaron, who finished third at the U.S. championships and was not selected to the U.S. Olympic team, was named to the world team.

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates (eighth in Sochi) and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (ninth) are expected to compete at worlds, as is the pairs team of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (ninth). Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay placed 12th in their Olympic debut and are the first alternates for worlds. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were named to the world team.

Moving on

The Olympics often marks the end of careers for skaters, and these Winter Games are no different. Among those who said good-bye here are Qing Pang and Jian Tong, who have skated an astounding 21 years together and finished fourth in their fourth and final trip to the Winter Games. Pang and Tong also placed fourth in 2006 and earned the silver medal in 2010.

Brian Joubert, a fan favorite from France, said "finis" after these Games. A world champion in 2007, Joubert never finished better than sixth in four Olympic appearances and was 13th in Sochi. 

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won the gold medal four years ago in Vancouver and two silvers in Sochi (one in ice dance and the other in the team event), talked about this being their final Olympic appearance but did not specify whether they would compete at worlds. Fellow Canadian Patrick Chan has not made a decision about worlds or his competitive future.

Akiko Suzuki, 28, who placed eighth in both of her Olympic appearances, also said Sochi would mark the end of her competitive career.

Tomáš Verner of Czech Republic, who placed 11th, is leaving the competitive ranks and planning to study in Prague. Verner is the 2008 European champion.

Show stoppers

The Olympic gala featured many of the top stars who competed but also some invited guests. Julia Lipnitskaia, who entered these Olympics as a contender for gold, opened her exhibition routine with a triple flip -- the jump she wished she had landed in the short program Wednesday.

Mao Asada, who received plenty of support from the crowd in Sochi, both when she struggled through her short program and when she rallied with a triple Axel in the free skate, performed, appropriately, to "What a wonderful world."

Elena Radionova, a two-time Russian medalist, could not compete because she missed the age requirement (she turned 15 in January). She was, however, invited to perform in this gala and did a routine to Russian folk music.

Of the 32 Olympians in the gala, three were Americans: Davis and White, and Gold.

Chan closed the gala with a thank-you message to the crowd and to IOC president Thomas Bach. He spoke in English, French and added one word in Russian, "spasibo," which means thank you. He made the quick speech with all of the gold medalists on the ice (Davis and White, Volosozhar and Trankov, Sotnikova and Hanyu).

The gala was produced by Ari Zakarian, the longtime agent for Evgeni Plushenko. But Plushenko, the four-time Olympic medalist who said a back injury forced him to withdraw from the men's competition, did not perform in the gala.

-Amy Rosewater

Platov admires American, Canadian dance duos

Two-time Olympic ice dance champion Evgeni Platov, who coached Brits Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland to a 10-place finish in Sochi, shook his head with admiration at the performances of Davis and White, and Virtue and Moir.

"They are amazing," said Platov, who coaches his teams in New Jersey. "After 2008, they just skyrocketed. Everyone was trying to catch them, and no one could."

While Platov called Davis and White's gold a close decision, he thinks it was correct.

"Meryl and Charlie skate so together, their unison is unbelievable," he said. "They skate above the ice, like feathers. Whatever they do is just a little bit lighter, a little bit crisper."

He takes his hat off to the Canadians for sticking with eligible competition another four seasons after their triumph at the 2010 Vancouver Games, especially after Virtue's two surgeries to relieve chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

"It is so hard to do that," he said. "The first time, it is great, it feels amazing. Then it gets so much harder.

"They tried to be different (with the Carmen free dance); there was tremendous pressure to try to catch Meryl and Charlie. It is so much more difficult for them than for us. We had 25 consecutive wins because it was easier then. No one can beat the new system all of the time."

Platov and partner Oksana Grishuk were undefeated for the four seasons between their Olympic crowns, retiring with four world and three European titles. Platov thinks the rigorous demands of the IJS (International Judging System) and, especially, technical callers, makes it unlikely another ice dance team will ever win back-to-back Olympic titles.

"We never get the same levels; every event is different," he said, speaking specifically of this season's Finnstep sections. "The tech panel needs slow motion to see whether it is an inside or outside edge, whether it is held long enough. You can't be 100 feet away or watching at home on a TV screen."

"You can have four top couples, and it's hard to say which one is better," Platov continued. "I think we coaches are pretty good with all of the seminars we have, but sometimes one of my teams will get a Level 1 out of the blue, and I'll say, 'What is this?' Then I see video and talk to the callers and I agree with them."

-Lynn Rutherford

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