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1998 Olympics bloc judging scandal question

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Tony Wheeler, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. Tony Wheeler

    Tony Wheeler Well-Known Member

    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.


    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?
  2. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    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 :shuffle:), 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.

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  3. Tony Wheeler

    Tony Wheeler Well-Known Member

    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.


    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)..
  4. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    Thorny Issue

    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: Jul 6, 2012
  5. alchemy void

    alchemy void blowing kisses with bitchface

    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 :rofl: 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. :blah:
  6. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,203274,00.html#ixzz1zn7eHkIh

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

    Tony Wheeler Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    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 :mad:

    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. :shuffle:
  10. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    Did you follow caseyedwards' link?

    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).

    You would have to check the Ukrainian-language section of Youtube for that.

  11. pollyanna

    pollyanna In denial

    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.


    Then this report at 1998 Worlds


    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: Jul 6, 2012
  12. Tony Wheeler

    Tony Wheeler Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. Tony Wheeler

    Tony Wheeler Well-Known Member

    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'.
  14. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    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).
  16. RumbleFish

    RumbleFish New Member

    I found this hilarious as well. :rofl:
    Obviously, Blumberg and Button didn't really care for all the whinning comming from Canadian side.

    Here is another interesting article.

    It eventually turned out that Tarasova was speaking the truth, and Dubova was trying to hype up B&K to :lol: level.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  17. escaflowne9282

    escaflowne9282 Reformed Manspreader

    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
  18. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member



    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.
  19. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    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 :drama: season where they claimed Dubova favored Usova/Zhulin and then end up with gold with :TT1:. 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.