Tara Lipinski and her husband examine the 2002 skating scandal


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. Until now.

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. It’s called “MEDDLING” and takes an in-depth look at the impact of the judges’ misdeeds on the two pair teams involved: Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.

Just after scoring irregularities centered on French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne surfaced, Sale and Pelletier, who had finished second behind the Russians, were elevated to co-gold medalists. Then, they shared the highest podium at the medal ceremony.

“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 win 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 hung from scaffolding, ready to be pulled up to the rafters.

“It could be embarrassing – medals usually won by a couple split between two. But Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze accepted their co-champions with grace, a gift recognized by Sale and Pelletier.

Yet, as Lipinski and Kapostasy discovered in interviews with everyone involved – including Le Gougne – it left scars. On Sport, which immediately underwent a scoring system overhaul, eliminating the perfect 6.0 which wasn’t so perfect in the end. And on the four skaters, 20 years later.

Lipinski notes that there has not been a thorough examination of the scandal in the past two decades. Even though this was a dominant theme during the Salt Lake City Games, a drama that continued for days on end, the general perception was that the French judge voted for the Russians that night under pressure from others.

“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. . “

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

“It affected her life so much,” Lipinsiki says. “She came back to live with her mother in France and feels like she can’t live her life, she misses her sport so much. Sadly, she even considered taking her own life.

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

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, 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 it isn’t, but why not take a look, relive the story and find out more?” At the same time, we can appreciate that this sport has evolved and that it has a new judging system. “

And, in recent years, no scandal.

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