Me and My Nine Iron

February 26, 2010

South Korean Skating DQ: The Push, the History and James Hewish

Someone should write a novel, and credit me for the title and following excerpt.

As you may know, the South Korean team was stripped of its gold medal in the women’s 3000-meter relay final Wednesday as a result of a disqualification, moving second-place China up to the top of the podium. In what has been a dysfunctional Olympics (from the luging death to the poor TV coverage from NBC to the disorganization of events up in Vancouver), the controversy of this year’s Games may go down in history as this very event.

It’s indisputable that there was contact on the turn that slowed down the

Chinese woman considerably and eventually decided the race, but if speed skating rules were as simple as “the initiator of contact is automatically disqualified,” then judge James Hewish wouldn’t have had to deliberate with his crew for three minutes before making his decision (more about him later). I think Chris Chase, Yahoo! sports writer, best states my opinion when he wrote that “the offending bump was obvious, but it wasn’t clear that it should lead to a disqualification. Relays tend to be judged a little looser than regular short track events, so there was thought that Hewish might let the contact go.”

I’m not trying to contest that an egregious act should be ignored because it’s a relay, but the push was about as harmless as Michael Jordan‘s controversial off-hand push off of Bryon Russell for the game-winning shot in the NBA championship (depending on how you feel about the play). It also doesn’t help that the Chinese woman’s skate made contact with the Korean’s at the exact same time as the push, and I can’t imagine her not losing a step from the skate miscue so it’s unfortunate that the Korean’s push was likely unnecessary.

But enough of breaking down the video footage, let’s introduce a key player at this time – Australian judge James Hewish. The man who made the decision to DQ the Korean team is infamous in Korea, but even before this event. In the 2002 Winter Olympics, Hewish was the presiding judge in another DQ of a Korean when our hometown hero, Apolo Anton Ohno, who finished second in the race, was awarded the gold after Hewish decided the victorious Korean was cross-skating across Ohno on the final lap. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to let this contact go.

Is Hewish racist against Koreans? I don’t know, and neither do you. He’s not dumb where he’s going to flat-out admit his prejudice, if he were to have one, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and agree that Koreans are sometimes overly aggressive speed skaters (but who isn’t?). But I don’t think you can bring up the history of the specific female skaters involved because an incident should be judged on its own. And, no active member of the IOC is going to call out Hewish because that would be treason. You always have to support the decision of your staff and especially, your superior. That’s why you can quickly discredit all of the supporting comments, with some being completely irrational and making you wonder if these people were even watching the same video.

Like this one by an IOC member: “The South Korean affected Sun Linlin‘s route at a very crucial moment when China had the chance to win. The fault judging may not have come if it happened during the starting laps. The ISU (International Skating Union) ruled that the skater trying to pass takes the full responsibility when there is physical interference. Sun Linlin was skating in her route when nudged by Kim Min-jung outside.”

First of all, you’re telling me you’re allowed to do that in the beginning, but not in the end? The worst thing you can ask for in sports is inconsistent ruling. Also, the underlying theme in all of the opinions is that the Korean cut her off. Am I the only one that saw the Korean on the inside the entire time while the Chinese lunged with her left hand like she had no idea she was going to make contact with the Korean? It’s almost like she didn’t even see her. Simply put, it’s all bunk, and the main part is that putting Hewish in that position of power was the critical mistake for a subjective call. I don’t know what his title is, but they couldn’t have someone else judge the final?

I really hope that when they were deliberating, they were able to view the incident from all angles. Believe it or not, judges/referees/officials sometimes have less angles to review a play from than we TV viewers do. Nonsensical, I know, but true. Also, I’m sure it wasn’t, but I just have to mention that I hope they didn’t catch the Chinese’s bloody face (who got cut from the skate of her own teammate trying to climb the wall, and it was shown all over TV) and sympathize or think anything of it, but I would think they’re smart enough to know that a push to the chest didn’t cause that gash.

Call me biased, but I wish it was a non-call because there was the skating contact, and the fact that it could’ve gone either way at a really important time. I think most sports fans would prefer the questionable non-call at the end of games. But maybe, they should institute some alternative penalties like tacking on a couple of seconds to isolated, non-crashing incidents like these, as I’ll display in my poll below. Maybe then, we wouldn’t have to possibly serve three years for phony bomb threats directed at Hewish. (By the way, the bomberman was only identified as Kim, which is about as identifiable as John Doe here in the States.) It would also help to prevent something like a poor U.S. performance from medaling. They finished last of the four teams (I read they got lapped, which is downright pathetic), and they walk away with the bronze over the Koreans’ empty-handedness. Right.

But we’ll let Korea submit a meaningless appeal and the system play itself out.




  1. I agree 100%

    Comment by recepti — December 5, 2010 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  2. The subject is fully clear but why does the text lack clarity? But in general your blog is great.

    Comment by gualetar — March 22, 2010 @ 3:11 am | Reply

  3. Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit.

    Comment by ZAREMA — March 19, 2010 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

  4. If only other Koreans and Korean-Americans were as slow to judge as you.

    Comment by James — February 27, 2010 @ 11:54 am | Reply

  5. It sounds like having James Hewish judge an event in which there are Korean competitors is akin to Joey Crawford reffing Tim Duncan — there’s inexplicable prejudice.

    Comment by Chris — February 27, 2010 @ 10:27 am | Reply

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