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There is one word that always grabs the world’s attention in sport: scandal.

Figure skating has had its share – anyone remember Tonya and Nancy in 1994? This one has been examined as often as Nathan Chen does a quadruple jump.

Not so much the 2002 disgrace at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Tara Lipinski, 1998 Olympic gold medalist and now NBC analyst, teamed up with husband Todd Kapostasy for a four-part documentary series on Peacock, NBC’s streaming channel. “Meddling” takes a closer look at the scandal surrounding the alleged electoral fraud conspiracy, in which the Russians were accused of securing a gold medal for pairs skaters Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, beating Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier despite the Canadiens. flawless routine.

As part of the scheme, French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne reportedly succumbed to pressure from her federation to reduce the scores of Canadians in favor of their Russian rivals.

Days after the scoring irregularities surfaced, Sale and Pelletier also received gold medals and the Russians were allowed to keep theirs. The two pairs shared the first podium in the medal ceremony as co-gold medalists.

“It brought me sadness as an Olympic champion to know what that night was like,” says Lipinski. “You skate hard and everything is going well, the rest is fun and you soak up the crowd and seeing the marks. And you earn and spend your time on the podium listening to the national anthem, and those are unique memories. .

“I think they would all agree that it was the weirdest and most miserable night. How uncomfortable and extremely awkward it was to share the podium. David said it was “made for the people, not for us”.

“I don’t think any of these skaters will get that night, their only shot at Olympic glory and the experience of what it would be like to win a gold medal.”

Instead, they got chaos. As the AP reported:

“So on Sunday night, after the original dance ended, a blue carpet was laid on the ice and a medal podium was placed on it. Canadian and Russian flags were hung from scaffolding, ready to be pulled up to the rafters.

“It might be awkward – medals usually won by a couple torn between two. But Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze accepted their co-champions with grace, a gift Sale and Pelletier acknowledged.”

Yet, as Lipinski and Kapostasy discovered in interviews with everyone involved – including Le Gougne – it left scars. On Sport, which immediately underwent sweeping reforms in judging and an overhaul of the scoring system, eliminating the perfect 6.0 which was not so perfect in the end. And on the four skaters, 20 years later.

Figure skater Jason Brown has always been known for his bubbly personality and ponytail flowing through jumps and spins on the ice, but when he makes his second Olympic appearance in Beijing in February, he’ll sport a whole new look. .

Lipinski notes that there had not been a thorough examination of the scandal in the past two decades. Even though this was a dominant theme during the Olympics in Salt Lake City, a drama that continued for days on end, the perception was generally that the French judge voted for the Russians that night under pressure from others. . Netflix covered the scandal in an episode titled “Gold War” as part of its “Bad Sport” docuseries.

“But detailing every facet was necessary. It’s a deep, responsible look at what happened, “she says of” Meddling. “There are so many different layers in this story that I didn’t realize they were happening. . “

Le Gougne and the president of the French skating association were suspended for three years for their alleged roles in the scheme.

The docuseries are Le Gougne’s first time addressing the US media, Lipinski says. They did a six hour interview.

“It affected his life so much,” Lipinski says. “She came back to live with her mother in France and feels like she couldn’t live her life, she misses her sport so much. Unfortunately, she even considered committing suicide.

“Twenty years later, we are going to see where these people are and how it has profoundly affected their lives. “

Lipinski and Kapostasy hope to realize other projects with their May 5th productions. Not necessarily focused on figure skating, although it is full of potential.

“The reason I wanted to do it was that I never want to back down from things that have happened in this sport, and that was a huge flaw,” she said. “It’s good not to pretend no, but why not take a look and relive the history and find out more? At the same time, we can appreciate that this sport has evolved and has a new judging system .

And, in recent years, no scandal.

Watch the first episode of “Meddling” for free on Peacock here.

Gender roles are ingrained in the sport of figure skating – creating a challenge for athletes outside of the binary, like American pairs figure skater and Olympic hopeful Timothy LeDuc. In this episode 3 of the My New Olympian Favorite podcast, LeDuc talks about his first appearance in the skating world, going out with his family twice, and how they navigate a sport whose official rulebook defines pairs. skating like a man and a woman.

NBC Chicago

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