I was introduced to Figure Skating by my late Grandmother. I have vivid memories of watching the 1980 Olympics from Lake Placid with her and wondering how on earth it was possible for Russians Nataliya Linichuk and Genadiy Karponosov to win the Gold with such a boring and unimaginative program while the wonderful Hungarian team of Kristina Regazy and Andras Salay were awarded the Silver Medal. Inexplicably, Russia's terrific team of Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov were dropped to third. This result just never made sense to me.
Ice Dancing's dark days of deception and corrupt judging was rearing its ugly head in 1980 and the trend continued for many years. The judging bias was especially unfair towards the American teams, specifically Judy Blumberg and Michael Siebert being robbed of Olympic Bronze in Sarajevo in 1984. The lovely team of Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerrod Swallow were also victims of anti-American bias in judging in this highly subjective sport.
However, as witnessed by the recent Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010 and more recently at the World Championships in Moscow in 2011, a new era is indeed upon us. It was just wonderful to see Meryl Davis and Charlie White get a well deserved Gold Medal. I have always felt that they should have won the Gold at the 2009 Worlds in LA. They certainly had the best Free Dance there and to this day I will never understand how the judges could have awarded the Gold to Domnina and Shabalin.
Whatever the case might have been in LA, in Moscow there was no questioning the North Americans complete domination of Ice Dance. With Canadian Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capturing the Silver Medal and to the delight of the capacity crowd Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani completed the North American sweep of the podium by winning a Bronze Medal at their very first appearance at Worlds. Throw in the fact that Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier finished the competition in 5th and 10th place respectively, and the US Team of Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein in 9th place, there were 6 teams from North America in the Top Ten at Worlds. A very impressive accomplishment and long overdue.
Here's hoping that this trend of more accurate and fair judging will continue, especially since the 2014 Olympics is headed to Sochi, Russia. I commend the Judges in the sport of Ice Dance for helping to move the sport into the new Millennium. I thank and congratulate all the wonderful Ice Dance teams from the US for all the hard work, joy and inspiration that they have given to so many fans and future skaters alike. Because of Tanith and Ben, Meryl and Charlie, and Maia and Alex, up and coming Ice Dancers from the US no longer have to feel that they will never be able to compete with the Russians. Lets Go USA!!!