Award a Gold Medal to Denis Ten for his Performance at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships

  • by: Monica Friedlander, Journalist
  • recipient: Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the International Skating Union and Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee

In light of the unjust results in the men's competition at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, we request that a second gold medal be awarded to the true winner of the competition, Denis Ten, the way a second gold medal was awarded at the 2002 Olympics to the pair team of Jamie Sale and David Peletier.

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Dear Mr. Cinquanta and Mr. Rogge:

Twelve years ago the International Skating Union (ISU) made an unprecedented decision: to award a second Olympic gold medal to the pairs team of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who viewers and experts alike believed should have won the gold in the first place. We, the undersigned, believe that for the same reason, a second gold medal should now be awarded in the men’s competition at this year’s World Championships held in London, Ontario, Canada.

We believe that predetermined judging robbed a very talented young skater of the gold medal he earned. Denis Ten — the first skater from Kazakhstan to ever break into the ranks of elite skaters — delivered the program of his life on March 15, 2013. His program was not just technically difficult and flawless, but artistically exquisite as well. His scores were high and he won the long program, but by a margin so small that it allowed Patrick Chan, a perennial judges’ favorite, to win the gold yet again after skating a program marred by four major mistakes, including two falls. Any other skater would not have even been within striking distance of the podium with such a skate. Yet the judges deemed Chan't skate to be almost as good as Ten’s, and based on the combined long and short program score, awarded him the gold medal. In fact, Chan's program was also marked higher than that of bronze medalist Javier Fernandez, whose historic achievement (first Spanish skater to medal at Worlds) was overshadowed by the scandal ranging across the world.

Most of the press covering the event was up in arms. Here is a sample of headlines and quotes from the press and skaters:  

•  “Smell of Reputation Judging Lingers Over Skate World” (Chicago Tribune)    

•  "World champ's apology is perfect ending to flawed skate” (USA Today)

• "Denis Ten won that world championship. Patrick Chan didn't win. His federation did!" (Olympic Chamion Evgeni Plushenko, on Twitter, RSport)

• “ Reputation still reigns supreme. The judges still make decisions based on what they hoped to see, not on what actually happened. (Christine Brennan, USA Today)

• " No disrespect to Patrick but a skater shouldn't be able to fall twice & get such high PCS." (World Champion Todd Eldredge, on Twitter)

•   "Glitzy gala cannot hide figure skating warts" (Steve Keating, Reuters News)

•   “This judging is ridiculous and the only reason people buy it is because it's in North America. Imagine the outcry if it were Russia” (Johnny Weir, three time U.S. National Champion, on Twitter)

It is in part because of this kind of judging that the sport of figure skating has seen a catastrophic decline in recent years. Audiences believe that what they watch and what the judges judge are entirely different competitions. It is little wonder that most fans become alienated, refusing to travel to events and patronize a corrupt sport that is quickly losing its last trace of credibility. 

Very sadly, Denis Ten is not the only victim of this kind of judging. Last year Patrick Chan similarly skated a flawed program yet outscored Daisuke Takahashi’s to win the gold. The habit of scoring Chan dozens of points higher than he deserves and anyone expects has resulted in the coining of a new word commonly used in skating: Chanflation. 

What makes Chanflation and other biased judging possible is the very judging system implemented by the ISU after the 2002 Olympic scandal — presumably to make political judging less likely to happen. Instead, it accomplished the exact opposite. The judging is now anonymous, with no one knowing which judge awards which mark to which skater. Moreover, the arbitrary program component scores (PCSs) are entirely subjective. Patrick Chan is constantly awarded PCSs high enough to make up for his technical flaws. In other words, the worse he skates, the higher his PCSs need to be to save him.  Under the 6.0 judging system it would have been inconceivable for a skater who made so many errors to get a perfect 6.0 mark for artistic impression. The flaws and falls distract from the artistic value of the performance. Yet Chan received higher scores for program execution than Ten, who was flawless — including an incredible mark of 9.5! What would the judges have awarded Chan had he actually skated a clean program? 

Considering all of the above, we, the undersigned, respectfully request that the competition results be reviewed, reconsidered, and a gold medal be awarded to the true winner of the 2013 World Championships — Denis Ten.


The Undersigned

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