‘Nobody called Americans dishonest’: Politician hits back at ‘skating while Russian’ bonus claim after ice prodigy shatters record

A politician has told critics to look at the reasons for American defeats after a claim that Russian figure skaters had been helped to glory, including a world record for a 15-year-old, because of bonuses for their nationality,

Russia dominated the medals at the Finlandia Trophy on Sunday, when Kamila Valieva, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Alena Kostornaia finished first, second and third at Finland's Espoo Metro Arena.

Valieva, 15, posted scores of 174.31 and 249.24 to break the Free Skate and Combined Score World Record – although rows ensued online over what some fans described as "hyper-inflated" scores.

Leading figure skating reporter Philip Hersh was the most high-profile name to speak out, taking aim at the Russian competitors.

"I keep looking through the International Skating Union rules to find the Skating While Russian bonus, but it must take three-factor identification to access it," the Olympic veteran quipped to his thousands of social media followers.

"These women are good enough; they don’t need inflated PCS [program component scores] and GOE [grade of execution] because it says Russia on their team jackets."

There was some consternation over why Hersh had specifically called out Russian athletes, with one fan pointing out that US star Jason Brown, who beat Russians Mikhail Kolyada and Dmitri Aliev, had also been among the purported beneficiaries of perceived generous judging.

"It's true for your lot, too," they told Hersh. "[Brown] would never make a podium with falls on triple axels... zero quads.

© Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva via AP

"No matter how excellent of a skater he is, [he would not have won] if, on his jacket, there was something else other than USA. A pot calling a kettle black."

Dmitry Svishchev, a member of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, congratulated the Russian team on results that he said showed progress "in the right direction".

"The system for the development of figure skating in Russia has positive trends," he told Championat. "It is not clear why our foreign colleagues and rivals perceive this negatively.

"It is necessary to understand not the reasons for the victories of the Russians, but the reasons for the defeats of the Americans.

"Formerly, Americans and Canadians were often winners. Nobody shouted that it was dishonest. Every country and school has its own ascent.

"For these statements, one can only rejoice and treat them with a grain of irony. This is an unspoken recognition of our school."

While some said that the scores were fully justified for Valieva's outstanding performance to dethrone champion Kostornaia, others warned that the totals may have devalued the prodigy's achievement.

"Kami’s new record just feels so empty," claimed one. "Breaking a record should come after a skate of your life.

© Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva via AP

"With all these hyper-inflated scores, there’s no sense of accomplishment anymore."

Valieva landed three quad jumps including a quad Salchow, a quad toe-triple toe combination and a quad toe-Euler-triple Salchow combo.

The nearest Americans to the triumphant Russian trio were Karen Chen, who finished sixth, and Amber Glenn, in tenth. Elsewhere in their division, 16-year-old Sofia Frank broke numerous female Philippine records, finishing 18th.

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