Olympic figure skating: Learning to lose with grace

US figure skater Ashley Wagner complained about the judges scores after Thursday night’s free skate figure skating finals, earning some negative press for her reaction. How do we learn to lose with grace?

By Lisa Suhay, Correspondent / February 21, 2014

Figure skating’s Ashley Wagner is unwittingly cutting herself down by publicly criticizing the Winter Olympics judges after Thursday night’s medal round competition in Sochi.

I feel for Ms. Wagner because she may have been one of those little girls – like I was – who constantly heard a parent saying, “If you keep making that face it’ll freeze that way!”

Her frustration with the judging at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the conclusion of the event was etched all over her face. While it’s hard to control facial expressions in a moment of upset, we can learn to control our mouths afterward.

The scoring in figure skating is a perennial issue, leaving many competitors and spectators wondering about how winners are decided in competitions measuring subjective and objective elements.

This is where Wagner tripped up, essentially suggesting that the two Russian skaters, gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova and fifth-place finisher Julia Lipnitskaia, had been given unfairly inflated scores.

“I feel gypped,” said Wagner, according to Yahoo, who skated two programs without any falls.

She didn’t stop there. I really wish she had because it would have been a much more recoverable situation.

“To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it,” Wagner added. “People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can’t depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable.”

Seeing the news of Wagner’s sour grapes comments against the judges prompted me to call a different kind of Olympian, turned coach, whose motto is, “Win with grace. Lose with dignity,” Chess Olympiad champion, Grandmaster Susan Polgar.

Chess, while far less subjective, is an officially recognized sport by the International Olympic Committee complete with an Olympiad, arbiters, and medals.

Ms. Polgar, born in Hungary, has kicked down plenty of doors in her time and been the subject of controversies for taking on male-dominated systems in her sport. She was the first woman in history to earn the Men’s Grandmaster title (1991), won the Chess Olympiad four times with an unbeaten record of never having lost one of the 56 games Olympic games she played between 1988 and 2004.

She is also a tremendous fan of figure skating.

When I called her this morning at her office at Webster University, where she is the coach of the men’s championship-winning chess team, she had some advice for Wagner on how to improve her post-Olympic game.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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