Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier vs. Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze

At Salt Lake City's 2002 Olympics, Canadians — and reigning world champs — Jamie Sale and David Pelletier performed flawlessly in a free skate set to the theme from Love Story. Despite the crowd's chants of "six! six!" — calls for a perfect score — the pair still took the second spot on the podium. The win went to Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, who become their nation's eleventh consecutive pairs skating gold medalists — despite a glaring technical error.

The press backlash was swift, and by early the next morning, the nine judges and two referees were huddled in a windowless basement room of the Salt Lake Ice Center — sealed in by tape to keep reporters out. By the time they emerged, French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne had admitted to voting for the Russians under pressure from the French skating federation. Officials moved quickly to limit the damage: at a ceremony held shortly after the competition, Sale and Pelletier were awarded a second set of gold medals. (The Russians kept theirs, too.) The scandal marked a low point in a sport long marred by tales of vote-swapping, judge-collusion and favoritism, and figure skating's image has yet to fully recover.