There is more than a little rooting interest in Canada in South Korean figure-skating champion Yu-na Kim; she trains in Toronto with Brian Orser, whose silver in Calgary in 1988 is still a sore point in the country.
It might be of interest, then, to point people toward the "Who is trying to mess up Yu-na Kim's jumps?" conspiracy theory video, which has gone viral ahead of the women’s singles figure-skating competition, which begins Feb. 23 in Vancouver. This has been making the rounds among skating buffs for a long time, but it highlights a strange pattern of judges downgrading Kim on her combination jumps (which Michelle Kwan can be heard to describe in the video as having a huge "wow factor"). On the accompanying YouTube tag, the anonymous poster explains his premise this way:
"Last season, a strange 'wrong edge' call suddenly appeared on her 3F-3T (triple flip-triple toe loop combination), a jump Kim had been doing for the past 5 years. And a surprising 'downgrade' mark suddenly appeared on her 3Lz-3T (triple-Lutz-triple toe) at Tokyo (at the ISU Grand Prix meet in November)." (Italics mine.)
The video, featuring edited footage of Kim's jumps, goes on to build a case. See for yourself:
So, as the video explains (if the above version suddenly disappears, don't worry — it seems to have multiplied), Kim and Orser tweaked her routine to avoid the downgrade. They designed a new combination, which, as the video states, "is more difficult and also has higher base points ... Experts have commentated on the high quality of Kim's 3Lz-3T."
Phillip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune blogged about this in January, after the ISU leaned on Kim to travel from Toronto to skate in a Four Continents Cup meet in Korea. Hersh noted there is a follow-the-money element.
"Skating message boards have been buzzing for two years about alleged deals between the ISU and the Japan skating federation (four of the seven ISU official sponsors are Japanese companies; the other three are French) to make sure judges are aware of potential flaws in Kim's skating. The combination of historic suspicion over judging in figure skating and historic political and cultural animosity between Korea and Japan undoubtedly is feeding these rumors.
"They picked up steam at the Grand Prix Final, when the technical panel gave a questionable downgrade to both Kim’s triple-triple combination and an individual triple toe loop — especially since the same technical specialists will work the Olympics."
Subsequently, Kim and Orser stood their ground. She did not compete in Korea.
The point of all this is that you might want to pay particularly close attention to Kim's technical scores and the commentators' reaction in the video. Around the 4:35 mark, NBC's Scott Hamilton, says, "I don't even know how you count that as a downgrade," in reaction to Kim's scores at the Grand Prix.
Of course, in Canada, CTV's commentators is David Pelletier, who along with partner and present-day spouse Jamie Sale, was victimized during Skategate eight years ago in Salt Lake City. Talk about some added irony.