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    1998 Olympics bloc judging scandal question

    I'm not creating this thread to bring up the argument of who really deserved 3rd in the ice dancing event in 1998, but I had a question based on a video I just watched.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=U18yDHDTMZc

    This video has Balkov saying to Senft that he wants Bourne/Kraatz 3rd in the free dance, followed by Lobacheva/Averbukh and then Anissina/Peizerat.

    Now my question, was Balkov saying that is what the supposed 'bloc' should all do? If it was, then that means at the end of the day, Bourne/Kraatz would have indeed ended up on the podium. (CD1 5th, CD2 4th, OD 4th, FD 3rd = 7.2 compared to Anissina/Peizerat CD1 3rd, CD2 3rd, OD 3rd, FD 5th = 8.0)

    All I ever hear is how the Canadians were pre-determined to end up in 4th place and a lot of it (if not all of it) had to do with the Balkov recording, and then FROM that came the 'unfair judging' as a whole. But what he says in the piece that they aired sounds like the exact opposite.

    So did he have other plans for the earlier segments of the competition?

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    That always seemed strange to me too. And then there's the fact that Jean Senft gave the exact placements he mentioned in the phone call (ETA, actually she had B&K 2nd, above K&O ), and was the only judge to have L&A above A&P. Yuri himself did place B&K 3rd in the FD, but A&P 4th and L&A 5th. Did he really want B&K to win bronze, but then decide he just couldn't justify placing L&A ahead of A&P after the FD was skated or what? Or was he trying to influence Jean to see if she herself would give those placements (which she did, although I won't automatically jump to the conclusion that it was because of intimidation or corruption), for some reason? Was there ever any evidence that he called anyone else besides Jean? I only remember ever hearing about her phone call.

    Whatever the intention of Yuri's phone call, it was certainly unethical, but it is really odd that it's the Canadians who make him out to be the biggest bad guy of all because of the impression that he was the one who caused B&K not to medal.

    http://winter-olympic-memories.com/h...igure_d_ex.htm
    Last edited by RFOS; 07-05-2012 at 10:01 PM.

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    Mix that in with this video and listen to Judy Blumberg's (an Americans) thoughts throughout the entire OD at the 98 Worlds a month later.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17KVjJJpups

    She thinks they should be behind even Punsalan/Swallow in that portion, and listen to how many times she has to stress how weak the program is. It's not often that you hear THAT much opinion about a program.. ever.

    The whole sport was changed in part starting because of the 1998 bloc judging scandal, but everything about the Canadians being the central target and then a Canadian 'exposing' all of it just doesn't add up based on the little information they have (unless someone can direct me to more or the plan Balkov really had)..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wheeler View Post
    This video has Balkov saying to Senft that he wants Bourne/Kraatz 3rd in the free dance, followed by Lobacheva/Averbukh and then Anissina/Peizerat.

    Now my question, was Balkov saying that is what the supposed 'bloc' should all do? If it was, then that means at the end of the day, Bourne/Kraatz would have indeed ended up on the podium. (CD1 5th, CD2 4th, OD 4th, FD 3rd = 7.2 compared to Anissina/Peizerat CD1 3rd, CD2 3rd, OD 3rd, FD 5th = 8.0)

    All I ever hear is how the Canadians were pre-determined to end up in 4th place and a lot of it (if not all of it) had to do with the Balkov recording, and then FROM that came the 'unfair judging' as a whole. But what he says in the piece that they aired sounds like the exact opposite.
    Thorny Issue

    At Nagano in 1998, a Canadian judge, Jean Senft, believing a deal had been struck between the French and several Eastern bloc judges that would prevent the Canadian ice dancing team of Victor Kraatz and Shae-Lynn Bourne from winning a medal (they would finish fourth), taped a phone conversation with Ukrainian judge Yuri Balkov, during which Balkov asked Senft to vote for the Ukrainian skaters in exchange for his support of Kraatz and Bourne. After Senft submitted the evidence to the ISU, Balkov was suspended for a year.
    So, the idea would be that Balkov would go against the anti-Canadian bloc in exchange for support for "the Ukrainian skaters."

    Unfortunately for Jean Senft, the recording didn't confirm her belief that a deal had been struck between the French and Eastern European judges; all it proved was that Balkov was prepared to trade his vote for a favor.
    Last edited by Vagabond; 07-06-2012 at 12:11 AM.

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    Clearly you're subscribed to 3axel1996. The 1998 Worlds dance vids were a very happy surprise when I awoke this morning and I watched them all.

    First thing that that stands out to me is how much I enjoyed all of the dances in general. I'm a big IJS supporter, but I do think dance is not nearly as enjoyable to watch as opposed to 6.0. Or maybe this was just an exceptional year for ice dancing.

    Anyways I found it interesting in both the OD and FD that ABC was trying to push the "B/K as victims of the eville judging bloc" storyline through fluff pieces and Terry Gannon bringing it up during every. freaking. dance. And when Gannon asks his fellow commentator about their thoughts, he gets nothing: Blumberg unequivocally picks apart B/K's OD to a extent, then in the FD, Button calls A/P's Romeo and Juliet "one of the great dances of all time", "superb", and defends the posing in the beginning, for example.

    Back in 98, I thought A/P deserved their placements over B/K but that it was close. But now, watching their ODs back to back, its shocking how superior A/P were. I know I'm biased as I am looking back at 6.0 dancing through a COP lens, but it really blows my mind this was a controversy at the time.

    I couldn't take bloc judging conspiracies seriously when the right team won the bronze medal in Nagano. B/K winning bronze would have been a much bigger travesty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabond View Post
    So, the idea would be that Balkov would go against the anti-Canadian bloc in exchange for support for "the Ukrainian skaters" -- Grushina and Goncharov, I presume.
    More likely Romanova/Yaroshenko, who were 9th at the Olympics, as opposed to Grushina/Goncharov's 15th.

    R/Y had consistly been placing in the top 10 since 1993 and had a European bronze medal for 1996. They retired after the 1998 season.
    G/G were still a young team just starting to make a name for themselves.

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    Jean Senft, a current Olympic and world figure skating judge, is no stranger to the sport's controversial side. While judging at the Nagano Winter Games in 1998 she blew the whistle on behind-the-scenes vote trading after Canadian ice dancers Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz were denied a medal. She was initially cited for national bias by the International Skating Union, but after she produced a taped phone solicitation from a Ukrainian judge the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the citation and suspended the implicated judges.
    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/articl...#ixzz1zn7eHkIh

    She framed it in a way that helped her and played into the larger thought of corrupt judging.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caseyedwards View Post
    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/articl...#ixzz1zn7eHkIh

    She framed it in a way that helped her and played into the larger thought of corrupt judging.
    I don't know. If B/K would have won the bronze, Senft likely wouldn't have said anything. I think it's ridiculous to think she would have, seeing how the evidence she had (or at least what I linked to) even puts B/K in the bronze position. Was there more publicly released from that conversation?

    Sounds to me almost like she was fine with everything until B/K didn't end up on the podium, and when she was cited for judging how she did, it became this huge ordeal.

    If she thought it was going to be a huge problem, she would have 'blown the whistle' prior to the event even taking place. Sorry. There's something that made her not address it until afterwards, and I don't see it being anything besides thinking B/K would get bronze.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabond View Post
    Thorny Issue



    So, the idea would be that Balkov would go against the anti-Canadian bloc in exchange for support for "the Ukrainian skaters."
    Do we have that part on a broadcast? All I have ever heard is the part where B&K are placed 3rd and A&P 5th.

    Here is a link to a 60 minutes profile from Sandra Loosemore's site: http://www.frogsonice.com/video/skategate/ (it's the last video) with more info.

    Senft's comments in that video make me

    Unfortunately for Jean Senft, the recording didn't confirm her belief that a deal had been struck between the French and Eastern European judges; all it proved was that Balkov was prepared to trade his vote for a favor.
    I always found it galling that she called herself a whistleblower; a true whistleblower would have brought that tape to the referee ASAP and gotten Balkov kicked off. Instead, Senft decided to vote his way (in terms of her overall placements - her FD score was even more outrageous, as she was the only one who put B&K ahead of K&O). She participated in that vote trade. She didn't report him until after the event did not go B&K's way, and until she had been cited for National bias (was that in relation to the Olympics or something else?).

    I agree with Tony.... I bet if the bloc gave B&K the bronze, that tape never would've seen the light of day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wheeler View Post
    I don't know. If B/K would have won the bronze, Senft likely wouldn't have said anything. I think it's ridiculous to think she would have, seeing how the evidence she had (or at least what I linked to) even puts B/K in the bronze position. Was there more publicly released from that conversation?

    Sounds to me almost like she was fine with everything until B/K didn't end up on the podium, and when she was cited for judging how she did, it became this huge ordeal.

    If she thought it was going to be a huge problem, she would have 'blown the whistle' prior to the event even taking place. Sorry. There's something that made her not address it until afterwards, and I don't see it being anything besides thinking B/K would get bronze.
    Did you follow caseyedwards' link?

    She was initially cited for national bias by the International Skating Union, but after she produced a taped phone solicitation from a Ukrainian judge the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the citation and suspended the implicated judges.
    I'm not very familiar with this event, but I assume that what is reported in both the Time piece and the Sports Illustrated piece to which I linked is true. If so, the reason why she reported it was because she wanted to clear her own name, not because she wanted to blow the top off of some vast Eastern-bloc conspiracy (though the fact that she was the only judge to place B&K ahead of Krylova & Ovsiannikov in the Free Dance does raise a question in my mind about how fair she was in her judging).

    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    Do we have that part on a broadcast? All I have ever heard is the part where B&K are placed 3rd and A&P 5th.
    You would have to check the Ukrainian-language section of Youtube for that.


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    There was a report during the 1998 Olympics about bloc judging narrated by Tracy Wilson about the compulsory dances. I remember being flabbergasted that L&A "passed" Punsalan and Swallow when P&S were skating better than ever.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNslu...tailpage#t=35s

    Then this report at 1998 Worlds

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djcWpXZZI-0

    In these reports, you can clearly see who the alleged five "bloc judges" were, and which five teams allegedly benefited from their alleged agreement. And yes, it was Romanova/Yaroshenko for Ukraine.
    Last edited by pollyanna; 07-06-2012 at 03:04 AM.

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    I get that she reported the tape after she was called out for her own judging, but again, no one has really linked to any other parts of the recording (if they even exist). So what we have is something suggesting B/K 3rd and A/P 5th.

    In the video I linked to earlier, they go on to say something right after that snippet like "That assured Bourne and Kraatz that they would finish in 4th place overall." No, the 'evidence' you just provided wouldn't have produced those results. Even if Bourne/Kraatz had kept 5th place throughout the 2nd CD and OD, their marking of 3rd in the FD and Anissina/Peizerat being placed 5th would have still given B/K the bronze.

    So again, my issue here is that the evidence we have been provided shows that there was some kind of deal to make B/K third. Whether Balkov was going against the supposed bloc that had already been set up or not-- how do we know? Seems to me Senft was just fine with going along with that, and that's my problem with her being the eventual supposed whistle-blower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pollyanna View Post
    In these reports, you can clearly see who the five "bloc judges" were, and which five teams allegedly benefited from their alleged agreement. And yes, it was Romanova/Yaroshenko who soared in the standings which back then was unheard of.
    Are you sure about R/Y? Like already noted, they had been in the top 10 at Worlds in the five years prior to 1998, they had a European bronze, and they made the Champions Series Final the season before the Olympics. Now I'm not saying that they deserved to be the 12th or whatever the majority of the 'non-bloc' had them (a la Moniotte/Lavanchy and their rapid decline), but they definitely did not soar up the standings.

    Now take Chait/Sakhnovsky, who went from 13th in 1999 to 5th in 2000, and I remember that being 'unheard of'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wheeler View Post
    In the video I linked to earlier, they go on to say something right after that snippet like "That assured Bourne and Kraatz that they would finish in 4th place overall." No, the 'evidence' you just provided wouldn't have produced those results. Even if Bourne/Kraatz had kept 5th place throughout the 2nd CD and OD, their marking of 3rd in the FD and Anissina/Peizerat being placed 5th would have still given B/K the bronze.

    So again, my issue here is that the evidence we have been provided shows that there was some kind of deal to make B/K third. Whether Balkov was going against the supposed bloc that had already been set up or not-- how do we know? Seems to me Senft was just fine with going along with that, and that's my problem with her being the eventual supposed whistle-blower.
    NBC obviously got it wrong, and no one there was paying enough attention to the story to notice the mistake.

    I checked the Jurisprudence Archives on the Court of Arbitration for Sport Website to see if the Court made any findings in the Senft case, but I didn't find any records at all for the case. Maybe they're there, and I'm just missing something.

    Tony, if you're really interested in this, you might contact the Court directly and ask them about the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    Here is a link to a 60 minutes profile from Sandra Loosemore's site: http://www.frogsonice.com/video/skategate/ (it's the last video) with more info.

    Senft's comments in that video make me
    Thanks for that link. Ugh, what biased reporting. They said Senft didn't go along with what Balkov's, but she DID almost exactly what he said to do (except for having the Canadians even higher) and they didn't even give the other side as to why she would have been suspended. Her marks were clearly out-of-line in favor of skaters from her country and would warrant being questioned with regards to possible national bias. I've heard no evidence presented that her presenting the tape to the authorities had anything to do with her suspension but that is clearly the biased impression they're trying to create (and I absolutely agree with those who say she should have done so before the free dance and who question whether she would have if B&K had medaled).

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    Quote Originally Posted by alchemy void View Post
    Anyways I found it interesting in both the OD and FD that ABC was trying to push the "B/K as victims of the eville judging bloc" storyline through fluff pieces and Terry Gannon bringing it up during every. freaking. dance. And when Gannon asks his fellow commentator about their thoughts, he gets nothing: Blumberg unequivocally picks apart B/K's OD to a extent, then in the FD, Button calls A/P's Romeo and Juliet "one of the great dances of all time", "superb", and defends the posing in the beginning, for example.
    I found this hilarious as well.
    Obviously, Blumberg and Button didn't really care for all the whinning comming from Canadian side.

    Here is another interesting article.
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...rne-and-kraatz

    Tarasova thinks anyone could see Bourne and Kraatz don't deserve a medal.

    "In my professional view, the Canadians are not ready for competition this year," said Tarasova, who coached the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympic dance champions.

    Dubova, the Canadians' coach, countered: "Probably we are being attacked because for the first time in history, a North American couple (is trying) to win an Olympic gold medal in ice dancing."

    Canada's Jean Senft, who is judging the Olympic ice dancing, said last month that deals are being made among the French, Italians and Russians, with dance votes presumably being traded for support in the other three disciplines.

    "When people start to speak about this, it always means they feel they are probably weak and are going to lose," Grishuk said.
    It eventually turned out that Tarasova was speaking the truth, and Dubova was trying to hype up B&K to level.
    Last edited by RumbleFish; 07-06-2012 at 05:38 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    Do we have that part on a broadcast? All I have ever heard is the part where B&K are placed 3rd and A&P 5th.

    Here is a link to a 60 minutes profile from Sandra Loosemore's site: http://www.frogsonice.com/video/skategate/ (it's the last video) with more info.

    Senft's comments in that video make me



    I always found it galling that she called herself a whistleblower; a true whistleblower would have brought that tape to the referee ASAP and gotten Balkov kicked off. Instead, Senft decided to vote his way (in terms of her overall placements - her FD score was even more outrageous, as she was the only one who put B&K ahead of K&O). She participated in that vote trade. She didn't report him until after the event did not go B&K's way, and until she had been cited for National bias (was that in relation to the Olympics or something else?).

    I agree with Tony.... I bet if the bloc gave B&K the bronze, that tape never would've seen the light of day.
    ITA, I was so mad that she was always portrayed as a poor victim. She actually has an integrity award named after her! Then again, we've been ranting about Saint Senft since 2002

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wheeler View Post
    I get that she reported the tape after she was called out for her own judging, but again, no one has really linked to any other parts of the recording (if they even exist). So what we have is something suggesting B/K 3rd and A/P 5th.

    In the video I linked to earlier, they go on to say something right after that snippet like "That assured Bourne and Kraatz that they would finish in 4th place overall." No, the 'evidence' you just provided wouldn't have produced those results. Even if Bourne/Kraatz had kept 5th place throughout the 2nd CD and OD, their marking of 3rd in the FD and Anissina/Peizerat being placed 5th would have still given B/K the bronze.

    So again, my issue here is that the evidence we have been provided shows that there was some kind of deal to make B/K third. Whether Balkov was going against the supposed bloc that had already been set up or not-- how do we know? Seems to me Senft was just fine with going along with that, and that's my problem with her being the eventual supposed whistle-blower.
    ISU officials have denied the charge. Wolfgang Kunz of Germany, the referee of the ice dance event in Nagano who supervises the judges, said this week: "There is absolutely no evidence or verification of the allegation of a so-called plot."

    ISU vice president Lawrence Demmy of Britain, a four-time world champion in ice dance, said the Canadian couple had made three mistakes in the first dance, the Golden Waltz.

    Senft disagreed. "I saw only one, and other skaters had mistakes that I thought were more blatant."

    She had placed eventual champions Pasha Grishuk and Evgeny Platov second in the waltz and jive and first in the tango and free dance, where she put Bourne and Kraatz second and silver medalists Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov third.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...les/olyn20.htm

    The ISU proposals come after a season in which Grishuk and Platov suffered falls in three different competitions-yet won each one. In Friday night's waltz, Grishuk misstepped in front of the judges, yet she and Platov still received the night's best marks from a nine-judge panel that includes five from former Eastern Bloc nations. Russians Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov skated cleanly yet landed in second, where they remained after tonight's original dance. The French team of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat were in third place.

    "The fact that [Platov] fell two times before the European championships and didn't lose any points for that, that makes people realize they can win no matter what they do," Peizerat said. "If there is a mistake in the middle of a competition, [the judges] have to judge the mistake. They cannot just carry on as if they didn't do anything wrong."
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...es/rules16.htm

    There was such an outcry about falling or misstepping that the tape was just used to quiet all the outrage. The idea that any fall or any misstep in any part of a comp was enough to prevent a team -primarily G&P - from winning almost regardless of what anyone else did!

    I think these articles are useful in demostrating why Senfts statements and her tape would be followed even if the results of the judging don't match the alleged conspiracy because Balkov was with Senft not against Senft.

    It does seem like a conspiracy was alleged throughout the judging and that the 3rd place for B&K in the free was a part of the plan to make them 4th.

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    I forgot Dubova coached Bourne and Kraatz in the 90s. I wonder if it was popular for ice dance teams to leave Dubova and go to Tarasova in the 90s-2000s. Klimova/Ponomarenko leave Dubova after a pretty season where they claimed Dubova favored Usova/Zhulin and then end up with gold with . Poor Dubova couldn't get gold in 1994 either since her "favorites" end up losing to Grishuk/Platov, and that must've stung as well as Dubova kicked Grishuk out from her group after the whole Zhulin/Grishuk love affair. Though, Grishuk/Platov were with Linichuk at the time, they would end up going to Tarasova before the 1998 Olympics and win gold there. Then Bourne/Kraatz want to win gold too, so they leave Dubova and head off to Tarasova before the 2002 Olympics hoping to improve upon their 4th place finish in Nagano.

    I wonder if there's bad blood between Tarasova and Dubova.
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