Israeli Pairs skaters Andrea Davidovich and Evgeni Krasnopolski finished 15th in the Short Program in Sochi earlier today, just barely making the Top 16 cut-off to skate the Long Program on Wednesday.
An Olympic medal is now completely out of reach. But, look on the bright side: At least we won’t have a replay of 2002, when Israeli ice-dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky winning the Bronze in Ice Dancing at the World Championships prompted the 4th place Lithuanian team to circulate a petition against them, and to ask Sakhnovsky, “How much did it cost you to buy that medal?”
“There is big money involved with the Israeli couple, and you cannot fight against that. What other explanation can there be for them finishing third?” Povilas Vanagas explained to the press by way of rationalizing how he and his partner ended up without a medal of their own.
However, lest the Israelis think there was anything personal (or even, anti-Semetic, say) about his remarks, Vanagas also claimed that the International Skating Union was “paying us back” for their protest at the Salt Lake City Olympics, when the Lithuanians were upset at finishing fifth. So, basically, everyone was out to get them.
Ultimately, Courtney Jones, the championship referee, called the protest unfounded.
(For those playing along at home, when the Lithuanians won the Gold at Skate Israel, they had no complaints.)
In 2013, with Galit Chait having moved on to coaching the Israeli Figure Skating Team, The Skating Lesson podcast was quoted as having predicted, “If you are a skater who is Jewish, with an overly ambitious parent, and you have a cheated double Axel and a double Lutz, you will one day skate for Israel.”
(To translate that into non-skating speak, “If you’re a lousy skater with unimpressive jumps, but your parents have money, you can buy yourself a spot on the Olympic team because the Israelis will take anyone who can pay.”)
Now, of course, trash talk is common in every sport. The interesting thing is who says what about whom. Even in 2002, when the Olympic Pairs judging was in such dispute that a second gold medal was awarded to the Canadian team in addition to the one won by the Russians, the talk was of illicit deals and vote-trading backroom shenanigans. But, nobody threw out the money card. Nobody said the Russian pairs team or the French ice-dancing team bought their medals.
That particular libel is reserved.