SOCHI, Russia—The Sochi Olympics aren’t yet 48 hours old, and the first allegations of shady dealings in figure skating judging have surfaced.
The source is the French magazine L’Equipe, which wrote Saturday that the United States and Russia are conspiring to help one another in the pairs and ice dance events, with Canada’s reigning Olympic dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir paying the price.
Quoting an unidentified Russian coach, the magazine reported that the U.S. had agreed to help Russia win the pairs and team event. In exchange, it reported, Russia would help U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning world champions, win gold in their event.
Davis and White train in the same Michigan rink, under the same coaches as their Canadian rivals, Virtue and Moir.
Saturday at Sochi’s Iceberg Palace, where the inaugural Olympic team event resumes, they’ll compete their short programs in succession with their weight of their respective countries on their shoulders.
Locked in a three-way tie for fifth in the team event, the United States is counting on Davis and White to vault the squad into safer standing. Ten countries are vying for gold, but only the five top scorers will advance to Sunday’s medal round.
Dance is the third of figure skating’s four disciplines to be contested in the event. As reigning world champions, Davis and White can, and should, post the top scores for their short program, which would be worth 10 points, doubling the United States’ score.
Whatever deficit remains after Davis and White compete will fall on Alexandria’s Ashley Wagner later Saturday. The women’s short program is the final event in the preliminary phase of the competition.
To recap Thursday’s proceedings, a poor performance by Jeremy Abbott and shaky one by Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir relegated the U.S. to fifth (along with France and Germany) with 10 points. As it stands now, the U.S. would lose a tie with either country, though that could change.
Russia leads with 19 points, after Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov finished first in the pairs segment and 31-year-old Evgeni Plushenko, competing in his fourth Olympics, finished second in the men’s event.
Canada is second with 17 points. China is third (15), and Japan is in fourth (13).
The dance competition gets under way at 6:30 p.m. local time. Davis and White, the last to compete, are due on the ice at 7:43 p.m. (10:43 a.m. ET).
The women’s short follows at 8:17 p.m. local time (11:17 a.m. ET). Wagner, a West Potomac graduate, is up seventh, at 9:04 p.m. (12:04 p.m. ET). She’ll be followed by an imposing trio: Russia’s 15-year-old jumping phenom, Julia Lipnitskaia; 2010 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan; and Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the 2012 world champion.