Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova has produced a masterclass in the women’s short program to take the lead at the world championships – but the judging scores have been met with caustic remarks over Russian dominance on social media.
Some fans and pundits seemed angered by the results secured by the Russians in the ladies’ skating, guided by famed coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Cynics suggested that the judges had favored the Russian competitors, adding that they feared it had killed the intrigue of the competition.
Some critics claimed that the Russian skater was overscored and Japanese star Rika Kihira should have taken the lead in the women’s competition.
2️⃣ Rika Kihira nails a triple axel and the rest of her program to be ROBBED BLIND OF FIRST PLACE in the Ladies Short Program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships because the ISU only loves Eteri https://t.co/aLEOIcBMbr
— Fran (@Fran_klymydear) March 24, 2021
The heated debate arose from the fact that Kihira delivered more impressive content but still ended up almost two points behind her Russian counterpart, who had a higher component score.
“Rika Kihira nails a triple axel and the rest of her program, only to be robbed blind of first place in the Ladies Short Program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships because the ISU only loves Eteri,” wrote one viewer.
“You’re kind by saying ‘yikes’,” US journalist Philip Hersh told one observer, comparing Shcherbakova and Kihira’s scores. “I went for ‘shameless.’ Also appropriate would be ‘it’s a joke.’
Others didn’t agree with accusers of a biased approach towards the Japanese athlete explaining that, despite having a triple axel which should have substantially increased her technical score, Kihira under-rotated two jumps which didn’t go unnoticed by judges.
Shcherbakova, on the contrary, didn’t give judges any reason for deductions, immaculately executing all of her elements including a triple lutz triple loop combo, which she performed in the second part of her routine, earning almost 14 points for this element.
She had 2q and her spins are visibly slower. Her energy was better, but underotations were called out.
— Anna (@Anna53818508) March 24, 2021
After emerging on the international circuit and producing several famous champions including Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, Tutberidze has become an object of fierce criticism, with some figure skating pundits accusing her of implementing harsh methods of training and exploiting young skaters.
The prominent coach, who has brought revolutionary changes to women’s skating and introduced the so-called ‘quad generation’, continues to set the pace in the sport and bring new champions to the international stage.