Russia on Thin Ice

Isn't it an outrage that foreigners don't respect Russian culture when Russians themselves treat foreign cultures with such reverence?

Adding even more shame and disgrace to Russia’s already horrific debacle at this year’s winter olympiad, USA Today reports on the wretched antics of Russian male figure skater Evgeny Plushenko, who was denied a repeat figure skating gold medal by American Evan Lyacek after humiliating himself and his country by taunting his rival in a typical neo-Soviet manner and then claiming he was “not a champion” afterwards.  Way to make Russia look like a nation of juvinile deliquents, Evgeny!  Don’t let the door hit you on your way into obscurity. [For more on the photo detailing yet another Russian disaster on ice, click here.] 

The Winter Olympics have never seen a men’s figure skating competition quite like the one that starts today. The field is deep and decorated. About eight men realistically could win the gold. And the event comes with its very own, already raging judging controversy, which began a full week before the first official triple jump was even attempted. 

If there’s a skating controversy brewing, you can bet that a Russian is nearby, and this time, it’s 2006 Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko, who has staged an impressive if controversial comeback at 27 and is considered the favorite to win, especially if the judges continue to send him their late Valentine’s hugs and kisses in the form of the incredibly generous artistic scores he has been receiving all season. 

It’s one thing to launch scores into the stratosphere for Plushenko’s jumps, which are among the best the sport has ever seen.  But when he postures and preens in front of the judges while his competitors work up a sweat with intricate footwork and innovative choreography between their jumps, his artistic program component scores should take a nose dive. 

Whether they will probably will determine if Plushenko wins the men’s competition. There’s certainly been a backlash against Plushenko of late, as reported in the news media. 

Pointed criticism about his artistry during his 2006 Olympic long program was included in a series of judges’ educational DVDs last summer, USA TODAY reported last week. So intent was the Russian skating federation on Plushenko’s winning the gold that it demanded the International Skating Union remove Plushenko from the videos, and the ISU caved in and did just that. 

If it sounds like we’re picking on poor old Russia, consider the nation’s history with figure skating judging problems. The Russians were one of the two parties involved (with the French) in the biggest Olympic figure skating judging fiasco of all time, the 2002 pairs scandal in Salt Lake City. And back in 1978, the ISU kicked every Soviet judge out of the sport for a year. Talk about a lifetime achievement award. 

The Cold War clearly is alive and well and thriving in this sport. Earlier this month, respected international and Olympic judge Joe Inman of the USA, who is not at these Games, sent out a private e-mail to colleagues, friends and some reporters with a quote from Plushenko from AbsoluteSkating.com in which the skater criticized his own artistry: 

“If the judges want someone to place high, they can arrange it. Like (at the European championships) in Tallinn, (France’s) Brian Joubert got more points for his transitions than me, although we did exactly the same transitions on the ice. In fact, we don’t have any transitions because we focus on our jumps.” 

It’s an eye-popping quote, to hear a top international skater admit he doesn’t fulfill one of the five components on the artistic side of his sport. It just so happens this also was exactly the point made on the judges’ educational videos that the Russians protested against so strongly. 

In his e-mail, which somehow found its way onto the Internet, Inman wrote, “I find this an interesting observation of his own skating and the judges’ marking of his transitions. When he says, ‘We don’t have any transitions,’ what does that translate into a mark?” 

That’s the exact question everyone in this sport should be asking on the eve of the men’s event. But instead of the skating world following Inman’s lead, as it should have, it stood idly by as longtime Russian ally Didier Gailhaguet, president of the French skating federation, jumped into the fray, seeking to turn this simple question in an e-mail into a potential advantage for Plushenko, or a disadvantage for some of his top competitors from North America. 

“It just proves that the North American lobby is on its way,” Gailhaguet told French sports magazine L’Equipe. 

You might remember this man. Gailhaguet was the mastermind of the infamous 2002 cheating scandal, instructing French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne to vote for the Russians over the Canadians in Salt Lake City. 

For his efforts, Gailhaguet was kicked out of the sport for three years, and though he will forever be reviled as one of figure skating’s most notorious scoundrels, he’s back now, clearly not chastened, and open for business at these Olympic Games.

53 responses to “Russia on Thin Ice

  1. If I didn’t know better I’d think those were two freaks who jumped on the ice for a giggle, like a streaker or something, and few seconds later they were both tackled by the cops.

    Priceless, truly priceless.

    Wonder what Russians would say if a couple of yanks dressed up in matrioshka outfits and hammed it up like that. Probably wouldn’t be pretty.

    • [Wonder what Russians would say if a couple of yanks dressed up in matrioshka outfits and hammed it up like that.]

      They would say: “Oh that’s hilarious”.

      However, the Australian Aborigines have suffered so much from the British and Australian invaders that they see offence in everything that white people do.

      Once you have been touched by those crazed British colonialists, you become paranoid.

      • Care to give an example of a foreigner trivializing core Russian cultural icons into a cartoon and Russians responding as you describe, Artie? Or are facts not something you care to bother with?

          • Are you saying that Rasputin is a core Russian cultural icon? I hardly believe my eyes reading such rubbish. At least previously Russians frequently mentioned Tchaikovski or Leo Tolstoy and such other greats from the 19th and early 20th century. And now, Rasputin…

        • AT,

          An excellent example of how the most tragic events in Russian history are lampooned in a silly semi-porno Western disco song by Boney M.

          And yet, Boney M are adored in Russia for their great melodies, and Rasputin is the most loved of them all, along with Bahama Mama.

          I have never heard of any Russian ever complaining about this song. Russians have self-respect and a sense of humour.

          The Beatles’ “Back In The U.S.S.R.” was also well received. The Beatles even issued a disc called “Back In The U.S.S.R.” at the Melodya studio in Moscow during Perestroika. I bet if they instead sang a song “Back on The Aboriginal Reservation”, the reaction would have been much less enthusiastic.

          Or how about the Bullwinkle Show cartoon that featured evil spy characters Boris and Natasha, who spoke with fake Russian accents.

          Or how about Rambo III, in which Sylvester Stallone travels to Afghanistan to help America’s best friends and allies – Taliban and other Islamic mujaheddins – fight evil Russians, and singlehandedly kills millions of these inept impotent Russians? Inch Allah!

          How about Rocky IV.

          How about Law and Order, which is full of Jewish-Russian and Russian characters, all of whom are murderers and gangsters, including women and children; and most of whom are played by hairy-chested mulatto Latinos faking a Greek accent.

          • Well actually the Taliban are from the post Soviet period Arthur.

            As usual your understanding of history shows you lack of knowledge.

            As for “Law and Order”, well that is a fairly fair depiction of the foul influence of the Russian diaspora.

            You are well known for depositing the filth of you criminal culture in every country you contaminate.

            Even in New Zealand prostitution is controlled by Russian immigrants.

            • Is that why prostitution in New Zealand is widedly considered to be organized in the most civilized way in the world?
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_New_Zealand

              Interestingly, in Russia, many criminal businesses are controlled by Georgians and Chechens, with Georgians being especially prominent among “Thieves in Law”.

              • Artie,

                Bahama Mama? Please sir. Everyone knows “Ma Baker” stands second in Russia’s pantheon of Boney M appreciation.

                And it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that Rasputin is considered by Arthur and his ilk to be a cultual icon. They have so few you see.

  2. I think the Russians should lobby for a new olympic sport: Russian yoga.

    • Oh, hatred is an easy game to play, isn’t it. Your armpit of Europe of a country has plenty of people who excel at this sport.

      • Awww Artie, did I touch a sensitive subject? Every country has its drunks, but nobody can equal the Russians. And for all your envious “armit of Europe” comment, Romania is Switzerland compared to Russia and you know it :)

        • For you A., I AM NOT ARTIE. No, the glorious cities of Bucharest and Galatz I visited last year is nothing close to Switzerland. Bucharest looks more like Perm, and Galati is a little worse than Vladimir. Calm down, though, some time you will reach the same level of development, Russia is only 11 positions higher on the list of the countries by GDP compared to Romania.

          Ah… and I will never erase from my memory the picture of your peasants using dozen of horses to pick cabbage, just on the outskirts of your capital city… the stench… the characters… the drunkenness… UNFORGETTABLE! A EU COUNTRY…

          • You’re funny Artie. A high GDP does not automatically equal “development”. In terms of living standards, quality of life, criminality, public health, democratic standards, human rights, and basically every indicator that counts, Romania IS Switzerland compared to Russia. Fact is, Romania is in the EU, while Russia is still a third-world country. That’s despite Romania being bled dry by the Soviets for decades, while Russia continues to exploit the resources of other nations. So chew on that.

            And judging Romania by Galati is like judging the US by Detroit (though even Galati is more civilized than any Russian city)

            • Oh Artie, I checked for myself, and even in terms of nominal GDP Russia is behind Romania. Russia is also well behind Romania in the HDI (human development index) and Gini (income inequality) statistics.

              • A. you are mixing me up with someone calling me “Artie”.

                OK, you can call that dump Switzerland, but I’d rather live in Perm than in Budapest.

                …and check your sources again:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

                • Russia is 8 positions below on HDI, but is still basically in the same group.

                  …but you probably have many more cabbage-collecting horses than Russia does. And what’s up with the stray dogs — Swiss shepherds?

                • Well, good, stay in Perm then and rant about the sour grapes. You might be confusing Budapest with Bucharest, but it’s ok, both Bucharest and Budapest are exciting, cultured, civilized and safe cities, which is more than can be said of any Russian city.

                  GDP ratings are not that reliable. Equatorial Guinea and Libya have a higher nominal GDP than Russia, would you say then that Russia is more backward than those two?

                  I gave you a specific list of indicators where Russia has a very long way to even comparing itself to Romania (I can repeat them for you: quality of life, public health situation, human rights, democratic standards, criminality). Care to talk about any one of those, instead of making idiotic and xenophobic remarks?

                  • Oy, my mistake I would move to Budapest any day. I would rather live in Perm than in that dump of BUCHAREST, but I have the privilege of living and working in much a better place than either of the two.

                    Have you been to Equatorial Guinea — that’s a nice, nice place. I cannot judge about Lybia, its a closed state.

                    My remarks are xenophobic — I thought you started first. The quality of life in your country is roughly the same as in Russia. This also applies to Bulgaria, another EU member. The remaining EU countries have better standards of living.

                    Democratically, Russia is less developed than Romania.

                    I am not sure about crime or hospitals (got a decent treatment in Perm last time, have never been mugged in Russia but twice in Rio), but even if they were better, I’d never in my life consider a voluntary relocation to your country.

                    But in terms of the number of stray dogs, you are the world champion — even though Moscow is pretty bad in this area!

                    • Good, then please stay away from Bucharest. It may be a “dump”, but you know that it’s much more civilized and safer than any Russian city. Foreigners aren’t mugged or knifed on the streets of Bucharest, nor do you see drunk people passing out on the streets. We also don’t have neo-Nazi gangs, or organized crime on a comparable level to the former USSR.

                      As far as I understand, average wages in Russia are indeed similar to Romania, and slightly higher than Bulgaria. That doesn’t automatically mean similar quality of life. It doesn’t matter that you’re making the same amount of money if you pay higher prices, have less economic freedom, face considerably higher health risks, have a lower life expectancy, are more likely to lose your job (or get paid in toilet paper and bottles of vodka) and have to deal with much higher degrees of corruption and criminality.

                      And well, I’d take stray dogs over gangs of drunken, racist and violent yobs roaming the streets anytime :) And no worries, I wouldn’t relocate to your country either, the only places in the former USSR I’d set foot in are the Baltic States and Georgia, and maybe Ukraine.

                    • I’ve been trying to do this since I first visited the place. Unfortunately, I have to go there pretty much every year. But hey, I’d rather live in Bucharest than in Delhi. — feel happier now?

                    • AT,

                      Confusing Budapest and Bucharest is like mistaking Denmark for Rwanda.

                      Unlike Romanians, Hungarians are a civilised nation.

                    • Well, in my experience Romanians are far more civilised than Russians, who remain the same violent imperialist and genocidal racist maniacs they always have been.

              • Adolph,

                Your Romania is way behind Russia in the statistic that counts:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

                List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita

                51 Russia 15,039
                68 Romania 11,755

                This is amazing, given that Romania is in EU and thus, by the free market argument, is suppose dot benefit greatly by the EU’s high standard of living.

                In fact, amazingly, Romania is the poorest country in all of EU, even poorer than Bulgaria. Of course, people familiar with Romania are not surprised, because of Romanian society ‘s traditional laziness, peasant values, and dislike of learning and science.

  3. Anybody seen the weird straps attached to the bodies of Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin? Last night on the Olympics “Max” swung Oksana with what looked like a suitcase handle attached just under her bra. They attached straps to themselves so that they could hang on better. Of course the Rooskies are different from the rest. They really sucked and as usual bent the rules in the true rashan manner and disrespecting the Olympic Body.

    Then RooSSiyski Goon Plooshenko actually had the nerve to step onto the gold part of the platform after winning silver. Hear him explain it….

    • Should I take the number of oooo’s and SSS’s in the name of the country as (i) an offense; (ii) an evidence of Georg’s level of: (a) maturity; (b) literacy; (c) him being in some kind of a secret pact with Elmer and a bunch of other proud Ukrainians who use spelling to compensate for the fact that their country’s per capita GDP is between that of Tonga and Guatemala? And no Olympic medals whatsoever. Or should I just also engage in alternative spellings of OOkraine or Yackraine. Seriously folks, you are not in high school! Or wait — maybe you are. This would explain a lot.

      • The SS is RuSSia is simply a statement of fact.

        Hitler would be so proud of the way RuSSians such as yourself ape his racist genocidal policies.

        • Yackraine is also a statement of the fact then. It accurately reflects the country’s current situation — at least last time was there about 6 months ago.

      • @Arthur and your sock puppets who attack whatever Roosha has left of Ukraine whenever possible. You cannot even speak for your family much less your own name which you change a lot on this site.
        Your Sino-Roosha does not even have a name, just Moskovia Rebranded. The chosen name of Russ, did not improve your image, other than embarrassing the rest of the freedom loving Russ. That is the reason that the adopted name by Peter the first of Russia is still declined as an adjective, in your modified tongue of a polyglot language. Not fit for polite speech other than to pigs like yourself.

        Claiming Kyiv Russ history as your own negates the fact you Arthur are a bastard of filthy and bearded thrash, from the Asian Step abandoned ant trown out of Asia for being too violent, along with some lost slavs living with their mean spirited black pigs, who liked living by raiding and killing neighbors and collecting taxes of the Mongol Khan. Of course Bolshevik RaSSiyskis disadvantaged the whole region by continued killing of your betters.

        Moscal propaganda is not working since class will always tell and remain persecuted by your ilk. Even here in the Olympics showing that RaSSiya is not much by itself, and will be even less the next olympics.

  4. I disagree that the quad is gone for good. At the moment, top US and Canadian skaters are incapable of doing a quad, so it is de-emphasised in international scoring.

    But if some top Canadian or American man ever becomes good at it – the value of the quad in international judging will skyrocket again.

    Of course, if some Canadian or American man starts walking on his hands – this “element” too will start getting top rating in international judging.

    Go USA!

    • When I read “Go USA” from you of all America haters, I want to vomit. By the way, I doubt that the majority of those judges were American or Canadian.

      Of course, you would tell me that American imperialists and war mongers bought every judge with the money they got from selling oil that they got from invading Iraq. You need not bother to respond

    • Sounds like Arthur is being a sore looser.

      A bit like the Russian winter Olympic team…..

      • Ops, I mean Arthur is a sore loser….

      • Trolling for gay sex again, Andrew? Get lost.

        • Now Arthur, your national team got a pasting.

          You are just throwing the typical Russian tantrum.

          Sorry Arthur, get back to molesting little boys like your President, I mean PM Putin.

        • And how many medals did Russia win again…..?

          Considering the Russian Olympic committee was claiming they were going to win 30, including 11-17 gold medals…..

          • More than Ukraine and Georgia taken together though.

            • Ouch. Is that the only stick you can measure up against anymore?

              “You think we’re bad? Well what about our former republics? They are WAY more screwed up than us.”

              A palpable defense indeed.

              Bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem. – Seneca

              • Frankly, I think this is the peer group Russia should rank itself against. This, as well as the counties with the same GDP/capita, say Chile, Turkey, Latvia etc. ….So for you Ukraine and Georgia are “meliorem” Andrew — do you concur with that?

                • …”pessimis”, not meliorem of course– haven’t used my Latin since college — still Andrew wouldn’t appreciate this.

                  • You’re obsessed with GDPs, Artie. What does the GDP have to do with the number of medals a country gets? If you’re taking about anything else except sports, I don’t see how Russia could be in the same “peer group” as Turkey, Latvia or Chile. Last time I checked, there were hundreds of thousands of Russian immigrants in Latvia, not the other way round.

                    • Again, not “Artie”. I’ve been to close to 40 countries now. Based on doing business there and personal impressions nominal GDP/person is a good benchmark to rank the countries.

                      Latvia has had quite a large Russian population since the time of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire. Latvians have been civilized enough not to ethnically cleanse Russians, like some Central Asian republics did. So there are many Russians in Latvia. Again, on the GDP chart, Latvia is slightly higher than Russia — its at the top of the peer group. Plus the benefits of living in the EU — no wonder there are many more Latvian immigrants in Russia.

  5. Latest hot news! Russia has lost her quarter final against Canada 7 – 3.

    Their hockey team is going home empty handed for the first time in – I believe – 50 years.

    Another loss to your ruSSia VV Putin. What will your excuse be? aye Vova.

  6. I_am_proud_to_be_Russian

    You guys seriously need to stop offending Russians!!!! Get your butt off the chair and do something to let your so-called prosperous country to flourish!! You can’t deal with your own problems: 1) for centuries you’ve been offending African Americans; 2) you can’t grow your own genious – nearly every scientist is imported from European countries; 3) because of you we have financial crisis, so why would you spend your precious American time on websites like that instead of proving the pride of America on practice?

    Im Russian and Im proud of it, i was happened to be born in the country with rich history and prosperous future.

  7. Really A? I loved your video about the homeless russian achohailics.
    Shouldn’t Russia deserve some respect, as USA does? I’m scrolling down the comments and all what i see are rude commments that are being posted. You guys who post these are a bunch of jerks who don’t know what RESPECT even means. You guys are just plain, weird, jerks, a**holes, and I won’t continue, because if I did it would be pretty long. Thanks for reading! ( STUPID JERKS)

    • LOL, Svetlana, Russia’s “rich history” consists mainly of genocide, mass murder and oppression of other ethnic groups.

      The rudest comments mostly come from those supporting Putin BTW.

  8. Oh, and I_Am_Proud_to_be_Russian is right!

  9. I was extremely pleased to uncover this web site.

    I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!
    ! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you saved to fav to look
    at new stuff in your site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s