Most Controversial Judging Decisions Ever

Tony Wheeler

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Looking for your own lists here- and I’m talking decisions that really seem to make no sense as opposed to close calls where you can see the decision going either way.

Particularly interested in 6.0-scoring instances, but not limited to just that.
 

Vagabond

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Copying these (with an edit) from a much earlier thread:

1. Worlds 1902, Ulrich Salchow over Madge Syers. He was so embarrassed that he gave her his gold medal. I, however, am still not over it. :mad:
2. Olympics 1968. Wolfgang Schwarz over Tim Wood. The Canadian judge intended to mark Wood first, put the wrong marks down on paper, and the mistake cost Wood his gold. :duh:
3. Worlds 1927. Sonja Henie over Herma Szabo. Three out of five judges were Norwegian and marked Henie first. Enough said. :rolleyes:
4. . . . Olympics 1994. Oksana Baiul over Nancy Kerrigan. All Baiul had over Kerrigan in the Free Skate was "It." :blah:

https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/worst-results-under-6-0-vs-cop.91652/#post-4200621

To which I would now add:

5. Worlds 1970. Pakhomova & Gorshkov over Schwomyer & Sladky. Gorshkov's skating in the Free Dance is painful to watch. :yikes:
 

tripleflutz

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1. Sotnikova's win in Sochi. Pretty ridiculous all around. Not only should Kim have 110% beaten her, but Kostner as well. If the judging were correct it isnt even sure she would beat Asada overall as in the short she would be about 15 points ahead dropping her score to the 70ish it should have been, and in the long program she should have lost to Asada by about 15 points (Asada should have won the long and Sotnikova been only 4th in the long).

2. Witt over Ito at NHK 87. IMO Witt should not have even beaten Harding at this event. First of all she should not have even been 3rd in the short, she botched her combo completely which was a bigger thing then so should have been behind young Kerrigan who was clean. Her long was very subpar technically even for her standards (not just comparing to someone like Ito) with only 2 triples made. Ito had 7 triples. Remember there were no figures at this event.

3. Browning winning Lalique 91. He had such a horrible skate here, something like his Olympic skate making only a couple jumps successful, and somehow beat Zagorodniuk who IIRC skated cleanly. No maturity or artistry yet, but still there is no way this result should have taken place.

4. Chan over Ten at 2013 worlds. I think everyone remembers this clearly enough I will not even bother getting into a description.

5. Kwan over Butyrskaya at 95 Lalique. Butyrskaya did 6 triples including 2 triple loops and all 5 triples and was clean. Kwan made only 5 triples, popped her only triple loop try, and only had 1 triple lutz (since she missed the first one) just like Maria. Maria's Malaguena was also wonderful and stunning artistically and her jumps were far better than Kwan. Total reputation and political result.

6. Stojko over Eldredge at 96/97 season Grand Prix final- Stojko did do the first ever quad triple here but fell on a triple axel and stepped out a triple loop, and the rest of the program was just horrible. Eldredge was clean, did 8 triples to Stojko's 6 which should negate the quad, and spins, speed, overall program, quality of most of the jumps were all far superior. Total home court result. The judges at worlds were willing to give Eldredge the win over Stojko had he gone clean and this time Stojko was clean with a quad-triple and a much better skate. Bourne & Kraatz's win over Krylova & Ovsiannikov at this same event, while it doesnt make my list, was another home cooked result.

7. Slutskaya over Butyrskaya at 2000 NHK. I think everyone remembers this one so I wont even bother getting into a descreption. Maria was sure screwed frequently in her career.

8. Fratianne over Watanable at 1980 worlds. Watanabe had the skate of her life and should have easily won the long program and passed Fratianne who was barely ahead of her going into the long. Fratianne also botched her short program at this event while Watanabe had an excellent short. Fratianne was always so overrated and overscored though, like anyone coached by Frank Carrol.

9. Chan over Takahashi 2012 worlds. Takahashi had a bigger mistakes in the short but a much cleaner skate in the long, and his PCS in the long should have been higher than Chan's too, not several points lower which was crazy. Chan also got some bloated GOE on not so great elements.

10. Chait & Shaknovsky over Drobiazko & Vanagas 2002 worlds. I am not a fan of Drobiazko & Vangas and found them very overrated at times by fans and commentators (underrated a bit by judges, which is probably what led to the sympathetic overrating of them by some others) but this result was clearly wrong. I would have probably had D&V winning silver over Bourne & Kraatz here, no way they should have been lower than bronze.
 

meggonzo

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3. Browning winning Lalique 91. He had such a horrible skate here, something like his Olympic skate making only a couple jumps successful, and somehow beat Zagorodniuk who IIRC skated cleanly. No maturity or artistry yet, but still there is no way this result should have taken place.
I posted the links above in post #2. ;)
 

tripleflutz

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The GPF right before 2002 SLC Olympics where Slutskaya beat Kwan. That was a head scratcher.
That was obviously block judging. The ordinals of the final program made them abundantly clear, how often do you see a 4 1st place to 3 3rd place split, LOL! My memory is a bit fuzzy but didnt Slutskaya only make 3 clean triples to 6 for Kwan and 7 for Hughes in the final program.
 

overedge

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I can't point to a specific decision that was more bizarre than the others, but Rahkamo/Kokko were consistently undermarked throughout most of their career, because they didn't come from a powerful ice-dance country. Yet their skating was creative and innovative enough for one of their programs to become a compulsory dance (the Finnstep).
 

alchemy void

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Japanfan

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1. Sotnikova's win in Sochi. Pretty ridiculous all around. Not only should Kim have 110% beaten her, but Kostner as well. If the judging were correct it isnt even sure she would beat Asada overall as in the short she would be about 15 points ahead dropping her score to the 70ish it should have been, and in the long program she should have lost to Asada by about 15 points (Asada should have won the long and Sotnikova been only 4th in the long).
I always try to understand both points of view when a judging decision is controversial.

But in this case it was home-cooked judging through and through. Kim had no equals, including Sotnikova.

10. Chait & Shaknovsky over Drobiazko & Vanagas 2002 worlds. I am not a fan of Drobiazko & Vangas and found them very overrated at times by fans and commentators (underrated a bit by judges, which is probably what led to the sympathetic overrating of them by some others) but this result was clearly wrong. I would have probably had D&V winning silver over Bourne & Kraatz here, no way they should have been lower than bronze.[/QUOTE]

I loved D/V - more than C/S - and remember the outcry about the result at the time.

I do think C/S's medal was a result of politics, but am not an expert when it comes to ice dance in particular so am not willing to firmly depend that position. D/V were beloved and often underscored, so it's easy to be biased on their behalf.

Just playing the devil's advocate here.
 

paskatefan

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2001 Worlds - Todd Eldredge's bronze medal should have been silver. I will never forgive that judge who put him in 7th (!) place after his very fine short program. Alexei Yagudin's free skate was quite flawed (yes, I do realize that he had been injured, and I certainly didn't wish that on him). Nevertheless, Todd took it all in stride, and was thrilled to make it to the podium.
 

Marco

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I'll never be over Tara Lipinski beating Tanja Szewczenko at the 1997 Champions Series Final.
Was that a controversy or just a close decision? Was that even a split panel?

IIRC both went clean but emotions were high for Tanja who was skating at home and clean for like, the first time ever. I like Tanja's energy but find her programs a bit empty.
 

Mad for Skating

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I wasn't around for the 6.0 era, but I have a list of more recent judging stuff that gets under my skin. This is not intended as shade towards any of these skaters; many of my faves get overscored, so this is not a list of skaters I hate or anything. Most of my complaints are actually about the margin of victory, not the result itself.

Bradie Tennell winning 2018 US Nationals over Mirai Nagasu. Bradie did an amazing job, but I think the US was eager to dish out high scores for her because they needed a new it-girl. Mirai brought her A-game that night and I think the judges really held back on her scores. Not to mention, Ashley Wagner's PCS were ridiculously low that night and I'm still bitter.

Satoko Miyahara winning 2018 Japanese Nationals over Kaori Sakamoto. Kaori consistently receives low GOE for her jumps even though they are some of the best in the world. Satoko is a beautiful skater but she lacks that it-factor for me, and there is simply no way she should've beaten Kaori by several points.

Tarasova/Morozov winning the 2017 European title over Savchenko/Massot by such a large margin. Savchenko/Massot struggled in the SP but I think they were underscored. In the free skate S/M went clean and T/M struggled with a lift, however S/M only won the FS by 2 points over T/M. S/M had the superior free program that year, so I definitely think they should've won Euros that year.

Carolina Kostner winning 2013 Europeans over Adelina Sotnikova. I adore Carolina, but she was heavily held up with PCS despite making major mistakes. I find it funny how everyone raked Adelina over the coals for being juniorish and unpolished, but that has become the new norm just a few years later.

Papadakis/Cizeron's 2015 world title over Chock/Bates and Weaver/Poje. P/C have grown into a gorgeous team, but I don't think Mozart was one of their strongest programs (compared to, say, To Build a Home, which felt much more emotional and mature). Chock/Bates' FD wasn't particularly compelling that year, but they are so technically sharp. Weaver/Poje had the best program of the three IMO. However, I think the scores were so close that it became a matter of personal preference.

Alexa and Chris Knierim winning 2018 Nationals over Tarah Kayne/Danny O'Shea. The Knierims are usually the superior pair and they earned their Olympic spot fair and square, but with their mistakes I can't justify them winning. Kayne/O'Shea only had one major mistake, and they had two very strong programs overall.

Volosozhar/Trankov winning the free skate at the 2014 Olympics over Stolbova/Klimov by such a large margin. V/T had been the clear no. 1 in Russia and they had huge momentum going into Sochi, which snowballed their scores all season, whereas S/K were a new pair with little major international experience. However, on that night, V/T got positive GOE for two-footed throw landings whereas S/K went clean, and the PCS gap (77 for V/T versus only 71 for S/K) was too large. V/T deserved their win overall, but the margin of victory still smells fishy to me.

Alina Zagitova beating Wakaba Higuchi at 2017 Cup of China. Alina is an amazing technical skater, but she made big mistakes in the SP while Wakaba went clean and still won. I just don't see it.

Javier Fernandez winning 2015 Cup of China over Adian Pitkeev. Javi was just all over the place, missing jumps, and Adian had two very strong performances. I understand that Javi is a great performer and puts on a fun show every time, but charming smiles do not un-pop quads. Javi deserves huge PCS for being The Greatest Showman, but his skating skills lag behind a bit, and the judges seem to overlook that because he is so entertaining.

Duhamel/Radford beating Stolbova/Klimov for the bronze medal at 2017 GPF. Okay, I love Meagan and Eric with all my heart, but mathematically it doesn't add up. In the SP, S/K skated with clean elements (she had one fluke fall but it didn't affect the choreography), while D/R made a few technical mistakes, but D/R received higher PCS (IMO, S/K have the better skating skills). I think if the SP had been scored correctly, it would've affected the medal standing. However, I love both of these teams, so I don't really have a problem with it.

Sui/Han beating Duhamel/Radford at the 2018 Olympics by 5 points. D/R really threw down the gauntlet, while S/H's performance felt a little tight (understandably so because they were trying so hard to beat Savchenko/Massot). I feel like the judges forgot D/R because it had become a showdown between S/M and S/H. S/H had the best SP of the event and S/M had the best FS, but D/R had the best overall performance. I think S/H were held up a bit on TES despite missing both side-by-side jumps and losing levels. On PCS I think it was fair - the only thing I'd change is Tarasova/Morozov getting 74 for that Candyman crisis!

Hubbell/Donohue beating Chock/Bates for the 2019 US National title. For me, C/B had much more sparkle, and they skate with controlled power, while H/D (particularly Zach) seem to tear across the ice with unchecked speed, which I don't find aesthetically pleasing.

Chock/Bates finishing third at 2018 Nationals. I think they were very underscored in the short dance and they couldn't make it up, even with the beautiful FD.

---
I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I can think of immediately.

Sotnikova over Kim wasn't right IMO, but I don't see it as the greatest injustice of the sport. It's the classic example of the Russian wonder kid with big jumps beating a more refined older skater. These days, it happens all the time. I think it was only such a big scandal because we didn't know that was going to be the new status quo.

While I prefer Kwan over Lipinski by a mile, I think Lipinski earned the 1998 gold based on her technical content. That's about it.
 

tripleflutz

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2001 Worlds - Todd Eldredge's bronze medal should have been silver. I will never forgive that judge who put him in 7th (!) place after his very fine short program. Alexei Yagudin's free skate was quite flawed (yes, I do realize that he had been injured, and I certainly didn't wish that on him). Nevertheless, Todd took it all in stride, and was thrilled to make it to the podium.
I agree there. Yagudin got some sympathy for toughing out through an injury but he didnt skate well, except in the short program where he did deserve 2nd. Todd definitely deserved silver, I even think there is a good case for Goebel deserving bronze at that event although maybe Yagudin would still get that on the presentation mark, but it would be close.
 

tripleflutz

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I forgot one really bad one, which should have easily made my top 10, maybe my top 5. Uno winning Olympic silver over Fernandez. That was a horrible judging decision and am still bitter over it, since Fernandez winning silver for Spain would have been even more historic. You dont even have to delve into the scores much, one pretty simple thing already shows how wrong the result was. Uno won silver by about 1 point. His brutally underrotated quad loop was called fully rotated by the apparently blind technical caller, LOL! Nuff said.
 

clairecloutier

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For some reason, most of the decisions that have felt most controversial to me are in ladies.

1. Sochi 2014 ladies medalists
2. Baiul over Kerrigan at Lillehammer 1994
3. Worlds 2007 ladies medalists

HM Kwan over Chen 1996 Worlds— I feel the decision was correct, but understand the controversy
 
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allezfred

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2001 Worlds pairs event. The most shockingly judged competition I have ever witnessed in person. It was pretty clear that there was an agenda to give Sale/Pelletier gold at all costs.
 

sharsk8s

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Papadakis/Cizeron's 2015 world title over Chock/Bates and Weaver/Poje. P/C have grown into a gorgeous team, but I don't think Mozart was one of their strongest programs (compared to, say, To Build a Home, which felt much more emotional and mature). Chock/Bates' FD wasn't particularly compelling that year, but they are so technically sharp. Weaver/Poje had the best program of the three IMO. However, I think the scores were so close that it became a matter of personal preference.
I actually agree with you that it was far from their best FD or the best performance of it but the only reason they won was because the other teams (C/B and W/P) made significant errors in their FD
 
D

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Was that a controversy or just a close decision? Was that even a split panel?

IIRC both went clean but emotions were high for Tanja who was skating at home and clean for like, the first time ever. I like Tanja's energy but find her programs a bit empty.
The Japanese and Russian judges placed Tanja first, while the other 5 went with Tara. Interestingly, the German judge gave Tanja the lowest marks of all the judges.

Tara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNMyZawqRy4&t=372s
JPN CHN FRA CAN RUS GER USA
5.9 5.9 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.7 5.9
5.8 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.9

Tanja https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWxeqEPrPek
JPN CHN FRA CAN RUS GER USA
5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.6 5.7
5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.7 5.8
 

Louis

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I wonder if there are any judging decisions that would have widespread support as being egregiously wrong among:
1) North American fans,
2) European fans, and
3) Russian fans

Not that any of these groups are monolithic, but they do tend to put weight on different factors that influence perceptions of judging decisions.

If you can get those three groups to agree that a judging decision was wrong, I agree it's controversial. Absent that, for me it's a close call.

The other factor is whether the decision was controversial at the time, or whether it became controversial over time as rules and frankly preferences changed. Judging of Midori Ito (unfavorably) or Jill Trenary (favorably) in the 1980s, in my view, is not especially controversial by the standards of the time, but by today's rules and preferences would seem egregiously wrong.

Under 6.0, I also feel like we generally got bad judging 10-15% of the time. When I look back at results, I ask whether it's just "general" bad judging or exceptionally bad judging? Oksana-Nancy for me falls more a long the lines of "general" bad judging -- the type of wrong decisions I was used to seeing approximately 1 times of 10; not quite unthinkable but close. Same for Sale/Pelletier winning in 2001 -- terrible judging, but still within the "two standard deviations" I expected from 6.0.

I'll have to think of some truly WTF examples that fall past that second standard deviation for me and possibly others....
 

tripleflutz

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Sale & Pelletier got a ton of gifts in their career. 2001 worlds, 2000/2001 GPF, atleast 1 of their wins over Shen & Zhao. Then have the audacity to get all uppity and self entitled the one time they might have been robbed a bit in SLC. So arrogant and self entitled.
 

Habs

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The one that always comes to mind for me, despite not being a major event, was 1991 Trophee Lalique. Kurt Browning beat Viacheslav Zagorodniuk, and only landed two clean triples - a toe loop and salchow. Even Scott Hamilton said it was a farce, and Tracy Wilson interviewed the referee.

Kurt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acIiSgnJCas

Zags https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siMuG-OXfkw
Kurt himself has referenced that result as a head-scratcher. IIRC, he mentioned it in his book as a result he didn't understand, but he took that medal and slunk home.
 

sharsk8s

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WHAT??? To this day Mozart is my favorite FD of theirs :slinkaway:slinkaway
Its one of my favorite to watch but it isn't on the same technical level as some of their current ones. They have become much better skaters since then (which is expected since they were 19 at the time).
 

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